Getting patients to accept treatment and regular checkups is an important chore and one that can be very hard due to several reasons. Sometimes the patient simply does not have time to book a slot and turn up. In such cases, the solution is easy. Provide scheduling options to them, outside their working hours. However, rarely is the problem so simple. More often than not, your patient won’t tell you what the issue is. Nonetheless, there are a few common factors that may influence your patients’ decisions. This article will cover a few problems and detail a solution for them.
A few reasons patients might not accept treatment
Generalized dental treatment plans:
Every patient will have different needs and different wants when it comes to their dental health. Providing generalized plans to your patient will not help them or you. Moreover, you will come across as someone who can not properly make a dental plan or someone who does not want to put the work in. Not only do you come across as unprofessional, but you also come across as inconsiderate.
Lack of information:
Even the most educated person won’t know medical speak or won’t understand the treatment and its importance. And this issue is much worse for someone who has only graduated from school or has not graduated at all. It falls to you to educate your patients about their issues, the treatment plan, and all limitations or side effects.
Anxiety and stress:
There is a lot of stigma or unpleasant experiences surrounding hospitals and clinics that can also extend to dental clinics. Your patient might not accept treatment due to anxiety issues or because they have had a negative experience. This can hinder their ability to accept treatment.
Limitations in finances/bad financial situations
Healthcare treatments or services can be very expensive. Even simple regular checkups can be out of budget for many people. Having several payment options is one step taken toward increasing case acceptance. You have to remember that a clinic’s target demographic is varied and you need to take in their financial limitations.
4 easy ways to get your patients to accept treatment
Personalize plans to make sure your patients accept treatment plans.
As mentioned above, a generalized plan helps no one, not you or your patient. Each patient will have unique needs and dental goals. Therefore, it is important to create personalized plans. Moreover, it lets your patient know that their dental health is important to them. Selling generalized plans will make you come across as someone only interested in making products. You need to make sure that your patient feels heard and that they know you are taking into account all that they tell you.
The first step when onboarding patients is to ask them about their issues, things that they would like to change, and their dental goals. This way, you know what is important to them and what they want to work on. Based on the information that they provide you with, you can create a plan. Both short-term and long-term plans can be tailored to fit the patient depending on what they want.
Remember to follow up every few years or annually. Check in with the patient about the dental treatment plan. Over time, goals change, and you will need to factor that into the patient dental plan. This way, you build trust and foster relationships. Moreover, it lets you analyze your patient’s needs easily. You can consider this a quick survey, identify what the current dental trends are and what you can do to improve customer experiences.
Provide as much information as you can on the treatment or service.
Having a patient that does not know about the treatment or service is much better than a patient who is misinformed or only has half of the information. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” has never been truer when it comes to healthcare. But misinformation is much worse.
Healthcare literacy varies through various demographics and it is important to keep that in mind when you provide information to a patient. Moreover, with easy access to sources (not all of them are accurate), most patients read up a bit before they come in. Because of such easy access, misinformation is rampant, even in highly educated demographics.
Detail what the issues are and why they need the treatment done. Go in-depth into the benefits and limitations of the treatment or the service being provided. Provide information in such a way that the patient can make an informed decision, but not so much in a short period that they get overwhelmed. You will find the sweet spot as you keep interacting with your patients. This skill is not something that can be taught, you will have to cultivate it through practice.
Factoring in anxiety and stress is a great way to help patients accept treatment.
Bad experiences can hinder someone’s ability to get healthcare checkups or treatment. It can lead to anxiety and stress. However, not getting treatment is not an option, in serious cases. Therefore, as a medical practitioner, you should be able to handle such cases. They may be few, but they will be there. It can include children who are afraid, people with anxiety and PTSD, people with disabilities, or even senior citizens.
Understandably, patients are frightened of medical treatment due to not having any medical literacy, misinformation, or lack of information and complex processes that are hard to understand for a layman. Additionally, anticipatory pain can make things much harder.
A great way to deal with this is to address the problems. Involve the patient in the process so that they know what is happening and what the next step is. Talking to them through the process can serve as a distraction. However, that might not work with every patient. Hence, it is important to ask them for their preferences. Do they prefer music or a podcast? Maybe you can turn on the TV or have an audiobook play in the background. Open communication can help alleviate some of the tension and stress that comes with dental treatment. The more comfortable a patient is with you, the better chances are that they will accept treatment plans.
Provide several financing options to improve the acceptance of treatment.
Sometimes, due to financial restraints, patients can not book appointments to get treatment. This can mean that they are passing up treatment that they might need because they can’t afford it. Make sure that you discuss payment and financing options that you provide when you onboard a patient and before any treatment that could be expensive.
Your patients might not be accepting treatment plans due to the cost. You can include monthly installments, or EMI, as a part of your financing options for patients that are running on a budget. Offering discounts to repeat customers is another great way to incentivize them to accept treatments and services. Additionally, it allows you to build loyalty and have them advocate for you.
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