4 Reasons Why Patients Delay Treatment
We routinely see four challenges that stand in the way of scheduling dental treatment: cost, time, insurance benefits, and perceived need for treatment. This year health fears are also top of mind for patients. How can you help them avoid delaying treatment?
Focus on Patients First
Do you want to give your patients a gift they will truly appreciate? Focus the dental team on conducting open and sincere conversations regarding treatment recommendations, provide insurance and financing options, and encourage them to schedule before the end of the year to best utilize dental benefits.
Several studies over the years have sought to understand patients’ decision-making processes and how to make it easier for them to say yes to treatment. Dental teams should take special note of several interesting statistics that came from recent surveys:
- A Price Waterhouse survey revealed that 32% of consumers are planning to adjust their spending on healthcare as a result of COVID.
- 88% of consumers surveyed said they want to know their payment responsibilities upfront.
- 35% of patients expressed interest in learning about payment plans.
- 70% of patients who hadn’t used financing previously were unaware financing was available as a payment option.
- 32% would not have chosen treatment if financing were not available.
One survey concluded, “Because the majority of patients choose their current dental provider for future care, the initial treatment and fee conversation may be the most critical dialogue in the practice.”
Help them Overcome Barriers to Care
Steps you can take to remove this challenge and provide your patients the opportunity for treatment:
- Run an unscheduled treatment plan report, identifying the patients with pending treatment.
- Utilize an end-of-year letter to encourage them to use their dental benefits that may be expiring.
- Take a proactive approach and offer financing options.
- Promote your in-house dental savings/membership plan.
- Follow up with patients who don’t respond.
Many dental benefit plans run for a calendar year, expiring at the end of December. In other words, they are “use it or lose it” plans. Flex spending accounts often work in the same way, with balances lost if unused by December 31st.
Utilizing your practice management software, customize an end-of-year benefit letter specific to each patient. Identify outstanding treatments as well as remaining benefits.
During these stressful times, it is truly a gift to remind your patients you are looking out for them by pointing out this valuable benefit. They will be grateful they didn’t delay treatment, and you will be busy!
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