The Value Treatment Paradigm
Shifting the way patients perceive dental care in 5 steps
Ever wonder what motivates patients to go to their dentists and pay for treatment? Or, perhaps more importantly, what causes them not to do so?
The public perception of dentists is that all they do is tell people what’s wrong with them—they don’t really provide value. You may understand that your patients have a problem, but people only buy solutions to problems that they know they have. If, on the other hand, we tie the dental solution to what they value in life, then we can change the equation.
Strictly speaking, there are three things that dentistry provides: health, function, and esthetics. But these are still means to an end. Think of it like buying a drill. You don’t buy a drill for the drill itself; you buy it to make holes. Actually, you don’t even buy it to make holes. You buy it because you want to use it to build or repair something.
As dentists, it’s up to you to provide value to your patients. How you provide that value is of the utmost importance. This is where the paradigm shift comes in.
Begin by giving your patient a clear definition of the problem. Instead of saying, “You’ve got pocketing,” say, “You have gum recession. What that means is that you have bacteria below your gums that are eating away at your bone. If we don’t step in to intervene, you could lose your teeth.” By spelling out the consequences, you’ve painted a clear picture for your patient of the potential cost of inaction.
That’s the big picture. Think of it as a blueprint for engaging the patient on a deep level so that they value what you’re offering, rather than pushing treatment on people only to have them decline it. Now let’s break it down. I’ve further simplified the process into five easy steps. If you and your team follow these steps, it will dramatically alter the way your patients experience dentistry.
Step 1: Listen for the Patient’s Personal Motivator
Dentists often make the mistake of selling a patient what they want to sell them, but if you can determine what motivates the patient, then they’ll accept treatment from you.
To help dentists shift their patients’ perceptions of dentistry, I created a simple, radical, common sense concept called “locating the personal motivator.” In essence, you have to understand what motivates your patient. Everybody is motivated by something different. That’s why you have to adopt a unique approach with each patient.
Step 2: Establish a Healthy Mouth Baseline
In the old model, the patient’s perception was that their dentist was just going to try and sell them commodities: crowns, fillings, cleanings, and the like. But when dentists establish a healthy mouth baseline in their office, it completely shifts the paradigm. Now the patient understands that the whole dental team is going to let them know what is and isn’t healthy from a factual standpoint.
Step 3: Use the PCS Method
Ninety percent of dentistry is asymptomatic. That means 9 of 10 patients who need treatment have no way of knowing they need it. Their teeth don’t look bad, their mouth doesn’t hurt, and there are no symptoms associated with their problems. Studies have proven that people don’t buy solutions to problems they don’t think they have.
That’s why it’s important that you educate your patient by highlighting the problem. In Step 3, you’re ready to build your case because now you can tie the problem back to the personal motivator you located in Step 1.
That’s when you launch the PCS method: Problem, Consequences, Shhh.
First, the problem. Let’s say the patient has disease, decay, and infection as was determined by the healthy mouth baseline you set. It’s vital that the patient understands the cost of inaction. That’s when you move into the C of PCS: consequences. Don’t lighten or soften it; you owe your patient the whole truth and nothing less. Tell them, “You’ve got disease, decay, and infection, and if it goes untreated, it’s only going to get worse. Not only on an oral health level, but on a total health level.” Tie it back to the patient’s personal motivator.
Now it’s time for the S of PCS: Shhh. Don’t say a word. Wait for your patient to respond. This is where the assistant has a crucial role to play. When the dentist leaves the room, the patient will often turn to them and say, “Do I need to get this done now?” We teach our assistants not to say, “Yes, you should get it done now.” That ends up sounding pushy. Instead, we teach them to say, “It would be irresponsible of me to say, ‘No, you don’t.’” Then the onus is on the patient to make the responsible choice.
Step 4: Fire Up the Five-Time Trust Transfer
Here’s where the five-time trust transfer comes into play. The patient has to hear the PCS method tied to the personal motivator five times.
This is how the five-time trust transfer works:
1. The hygienist or assistant speaks it to the patient.
2. The hygienist or assistant speaks it to the doctor in front of the patient.
3. The doctor speaks it to the patient.
4. The hygienist or assistant speaks it to the treatment coordinator in front of the patient.
5. The treatment coordinator speaks it to the patient.
What’s brilliant about the five-time trust transfer is that the two most trusted people are now originating the treatment. The assistant is the number one trusted person in a dental office, and the hygienist is number two—and the most influential in the patient’s mind.
Step 5: Fitting the Treatment into the Patient’s Lifestyle
Now that the patient understands what dentistry is and how the roles of the dentist, hygienist, assistant, and team members are going to play out in her total health and wellness, the only step that remains is working together to co-create a treatment plan that is a perfect fit for her lifestyle.
When you go in to buy a car, they don’t ask you how much you want to pay for the total car. They ask, “How much do you want to spend per month?” No wonder patients go running for the hills when we hit them with a lump sum of $5,000! But for some reason, most dentists still haven’t learned this lesson.
Every practice needs a dedicated person who deals with money, breaks down the treatment, and knows how to offer financial arrangements. Its also very important to make sure we are tracking our case presentation, acceptance, and production. I recommend my clients use the complimentary Payment Calculator as well as the Digital Financial Options Sheet on the CareCredit website (www.carecredit.com).
A Paradigm Shift
By following these five steps, you’ve shifted the paradigm and completely transformed the way your patients think of dentistry, and the way they respond to you. What we’ve essentially done is reinvent the flow that happens inside of a practice. If you don’t break out of the old model, you’ll keep bumping into the same problems of low case successes and low patient retention.
The flow in the new model helps you grow your practice versus continuing to invest time and energy in the things that don’t work.
In the new model, the patient no longer feels like they’re getting pulled over by a cop when they’re in the dental chair. They think of the dentist’s office as a place where they get loved and cared for, where their total health and wellness is a top priority.
This is an adapted excerpt from The Dentist: America’s Unsung Healthcare Hero, by Gary Kadi. To get your complimentary copy of The Dentist: America’s Unsung Healthcare Hero, please visit: www.nextlevelpractice.com/thedentist.
About the Author
Gary Kadi is the founder and CEO of NextLevel Practice, a practice management consulting group based in New York City. Known for his positive contributions to the lives of dentists and dental teams across the globe, Gary Kadi created NextLevel Practice to implement the Complete Health Dentistry™ business model, where teams willingly embrace and implement change, patients invest in their health, and doctors enjoy practicing the way they envisioned at dental school graduation. You can learn more about NextLevel Practice at www.nextlevelpractice.com.