Inside Dentistry
Jan/Feb 2006
Volume 2, Issue 1

Strategic Planning to Increase Treatment Plan Acceptance—Your Practice and Your Patients Will Benefit

Susan Richardson

The growing role of patient financing in treatment plan acceptance

Are you satisfied with your current conversion rate from consultation to treatment plan acceptance? If not—or if you don’t know your conversion rate—now is the time to review this important practice management statistic and establish goals for the future. Each month, use the simple formula below to review and revise, if necessary, this benchmark indicator as part of your practice’s goal-setting.

Conservative statistics show at least 10% to 25% increases in treatment plan acceptance—and often much, much higher—for dental practices that offer patient financing to every patient. The enormous popularity growth of no-interest patient financing plans, pioneered in the consumer goods sector, accounts for a good deal of the substantial increases in conversion rates experienced by dental practices throughout the US over the past 2 years.

You invest valuable time and expertise in your consults; making this analysis now will not only increase your practice’s efficiency, it will make it easier for your patients to say “yes” to the beautiful smile modern dentistry can provide.

Formula for Conversion Rate Goal-Setting

Do your analysis first. Your patient financing company should be able to supply you with this information via a phone call to your representative or by accessing their online reports. If you cannot get this information from your patient finance company, you may want to consider partnering with another finance company who will truly help you maximize productivity in your practice by providing you with daily access to all applications, approvals, and treatment plan acceptance activity by phone, fax, or Internet.

  1. What is your current number of monthly or year-to-date approvals? ____
  2. Of those approvals, what is the number accepting treatment plan and scheduling? ____
  3. Divide the number of scheduled patients by the number of approvals = ____% conversion rate

Once you have calculated your current conversion rate, ask yourself if this is a productive and acceptable percentage. Highly successful dental practices experience a 65% to 70% treatment plan acceptance. How does your practice compare? Determine your desired goal. For example, a practice need only increase treatment plan acceptance from, say, 15 of every 30 patients to 20 in every 30 to achieve the target range of 66%.

  1. What is your desired goal of treatment plan conversion? ____ %

The Role of Patient Financing—Increasing Conversion Rates to Treatment Plan Acceptance

The next step is to research how your patient financing program can help you to increase treatment plan acceptance. There are 3 basic areas in which the right patient-financing partner should be able to assist you in attaining your goal. The following list can help guide you:

  • Generous credit lines—Every credit approval should have a minimum credit line of $5,000 to allow funding of entire treatment plans, as well as high patient approval rates, 100% financing so your patient accepts a comprehensive treatment plan vs doing just what their insurance covers, and no money down to get the treatment plan started. A generous credit line eliminates the need to split fee payment with other financial sources.
  • No-interest financing—Overwhelmingly popular with consumers, no-interest financing is simply the option of choice for discretionary purchases. Longer repayment months with no-interest financing increases conversion rates to accept comprehensive treatment plans with higher fees. For example, a monthly payment for an 18-month no-interest treatment plan of $7,000 is about $389, while a 12-month no-interest payment increases to about $584. It is no wonder that many dental practices have elected to offer every patient 18-month, no-interest financing as their first payment option. Given the cost of modern dentistry to achieve that beautiful smile, your patient-financing partner should offer a full range of financing options. A good rule of thumb is 12- and 18-month no-interest programs (24 months for orthodontia), as well as various traditional extended-payment options.
  • Available tools from your patient finance company—Such tools should include written payment options worksheets customized for your practice. Ask your patient-financing partner if an automated worksheet is available online which calculates the monthly payment with options for each approved patient. Your staff will appreciate not having to use the calculator and handwriting the payment in. This also provides a professional presentation of your fees with payment options. Adding a worksheet engages more of the patient’s senses than merely a verbal explanation, making it easier for the patient to choose the option that fits their situation. Experience has shown that this method increases treatment plan acceptance while the patient is still in your office.

Check if your patient-finance company has a script for your financial counselor and staff to use with prospective patients on the phone while booking the appointment to communicate that your practice offers affordable payment plans, as well as a script to use at the consultation to clearly present the attractive payment options. Always remember, it is best to speak in terms of monthly payments when discussing your fees to overcome the cost barrier. Your patient-finance partner should be able to offer cutting-edge technology. Online patient financing tracking activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week makes it effortless to compute your conversion rates along with other useful data.

Take full advantage of these powerful new practice management tools to track and increase your conversions. At the same time, you will attract more new patients from referrals, decrease no-shows, increase your revenues, and enhance your bottom line.

And your patients will thank you for helping protect their dental health as well as their financial health.

For more information, please contact the author at srichardson@unicornfinancial.com or call 1-888-388-7633.

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