10 steps to sell more private treatments to NHS patients

I often get asked to help dentists offer their NHS patients private choices. We’ll spend a day together training up on the communication skills necessary to do this and my role is to challenge their current beliefs and then help them think differently, providing the process and language that helps their patients make good choices about treatments.

It’s amazing how much difference a well thought out approach to this workaday situation (which is worth at least hundreds of pounds per year per patient to the practice) can make.

Here are my 10 steps to sell more private treatments to NHS patients:

  1. Most dentists ask their patients a rather innocent or even banal question when they come through their surgery door, along the lines of: “What can I do for you?” Although this is kindly meant it rarely elicits a particularly useful response. A better question is: “If I had a magic wand, what would you change about how your mouth looks or feels?”
  2. During the clinical examination, help the patient see the pathology that you can see — and not just some of it, all of it! Once they can see it (use mirrors, intra/extra-oral cameras etc), tell them more about it and explain the consequences of leaving the problems untreated. Don’t offer treatment choices (or costs) at this stage.
  3. Summarise (for the patient) all of the pathology that is in their mouth. Don’t offer a treatment plan at this stage (really important!).
  4. Use FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), that is, don’t do anything to reduce the significance of the patient’s pathology.
  5. Ask the patient what they want to do now. They will say something like: “What do you think we should do first?”
  6. Build a hierarchy of treatment needs for the patient.
  7. Include a solution to the problem they came to the consultation with.
  8. Give them choices (not too many).
  9. Make a recommendation: “If you were my brother, I would want you to have XXX treatment.”
  10. “So shall we make an appointment to get started then?” If the patient is unwilling to commit, discover and then address their objections.

This sequence is easier to deploy on a daily basis if you role play it and practice it with all of your clinicians. It’s a proven method and yes, it really works.

If you need some help with offering your patients more treatment choices, contact me for a chat.

m. 07770 430576

e. simon.hocken@breathebusiness.co.uk



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