By DR SIMON HOCKEN
Your new patient value and sales rate of your treatment plans are fundamental to the values, style and success of your practice.
They are also two of Breathe’s most important KPIs. The new patient value and the number saying yes are very revealing of any practice and in our experience they reflect one of three types of prescribing profiles:
- Get the patient fixed with healthy/healed perio and long term restorative solutions in the first or second course of treatment
- Get the patient fixed with healthy/healed perio and long term restorative solutions within one to three years of first meeting the patient
- Simply address the patient’s main area of concern during each consecutive treatment plan so that in many cases the patient’s oral health gently deteriorates
Average new patient value in private practice across the Breathe portfolio ranges from £300 to £4,500 and acceptance ranges from 30 per cent to 100 per cent.
Every practice has a sweet spot and (outside of central London) you might aim for an average new patient value of £800-£1,500 and an acceptance rate of around 70-85 per cent.
We often get asked to help dentists increase the value of their new patients and their acceptance rate and if you are a dentist who operates within the first two prescribing profiles above, then this is best practice for dealing with new patients:
21 steps to raise new patient value and treatment acceptance
- Collect patient from reception and introduce yourself
- Introduce patient to your nurse and sit in a non-clinical area of your surgery or, ideally, a dedicated treatment coordination room
- Ask questions so as to quickly establish soft facts and build rapport and trust. Listen attentively
- Ask the patient what you can do for them
- Ask the patient the Magic Wand Question: “If I had a magic wand and by waving it your mouth would look and feel exactly as you want it to, how would it look and feel?”
- Listen carefully to their answer and play it back to them
- Ask the patient: “What would it mean to you if we achieve this?” Listen carefully and play back their answer to them
- Move to the surgical area, explain to the patient that you are going to show them everything you can see in their mouth and tell them what it means. (This is called Co-Discovery)
- Use mirrors, intra and extra oral cameras and radiographs. Take your time. Show and tell the patient about all their pathology, as you find it (not at the end). Don’t offer solutions at this stage
- Take the patient back to the non-clinical area or the treatment coordination room where you will have access to the patient’s records and visuals
- Restate, show them and prioritise the pathology in terms of its potential effect on the patient’s health and wellbeing
- Use fear of loss to underline the patient’s problems, don’t make light of them
- Ask the patient what they would like to do. Let the question hang. Don’t become the solution to the problems until/unless the patient invites you to be
- If the patient says, “I’d like you to fix me,” or “What can be done?” offer a first treatment plan that addresses the wishes of the patient in Nos 4, 5 and 7 while the patient is with you and tell the patient the fee for this solution. Position it as your recommendation and what you would wish for your father/brother/son/best friend
- Shut up and let the patient respond
- If favourable, try closing with: “Shall we get started and book you an appointment?”
- If they have objections, address them, offer a solution to their objection, and try closing again
- If they want to think about it, book a time with them to come back to the practice to discuss with you, within a week, no fee for the appointment. If they are willing combine this review with their first hygiene appointment
- Take the patient to reception and tell the receptionist (within hearing of the patient) what has been agreed and what the next steps are
- Wait at reception while the receptionist starts the booking process
- Shake hands with patient, welcome them again to your practice and say that you look forward to helping them achieve No 7.
- Make it theatrical and give the patient lots of value (think of it as a first date!)
- Involve your nurse and hygienist in the co-examination
- Listen hard, it helps the patient to feel understood and connect with you
- Be confident, not diffident
- Be passionate not ambivalent
- Don’t talk about the dental process or dental tool box, talk about the results and outcomes
- Don’t give treatment plans at reception
- Don’t leave your receptionist to tell the patient your fees
- Don’t (ever) send treatment plans by post or email. Present to the patient face to face
- Don’t make assumptions about the patient’s ability to pay for their treatment
And if the patient hasn’t said yes, follow up, follow up, follow up. Personally. (Don’t ask your receptionist, nurse or treatment coordinator to do this.)
If you need help installing this powerful philosophy into your practice then please call me directly on 07770 430576.
With all good wishes,
Dr Simon Hocken is Lead coach: business, practice & clinical leadership at Breathe Business. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn to see what he’s reading and talking about.
Want more stories like this? If you haven’t already, subscribe to our fortnightly best practice update email here.