Say this, not that!

By Cathy Jameson

Communication is very much an art form. You often hear the phrase, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it that matters.” Tone, body language, and attitude are very important components of great communication, but choosing your words carefully and purposefully can impact patients’ understanding and receptivity toward recommended care.

The following script examples illustrate how your choice of words can help patients make oral-care decisions that are in the best interests of their health, with the information they need about insurance benefits and cost concerns.

Communicate to patients in a way that benefits them-not you.

Don’t say:

“If you pay at the time of treatment, we will reduce your fee by 5%. If we aren’t involved with the bookkeeping, that saves us both time and money, and we would like to pass those savings on to you.”

INSTEAD say:

“Ms. Jones, we would be more than happy to reduce your fee. If you pay for your treatment in full now, we will reduce your fee by 5%. That would represent a savings of $150. That’s a significant savings, and I wanted to be sure to offer that to you.”

At the time of your case presentation or consultation appointment, introduce your payment options before you discuss recommended care and cost.

Don’t say:

“The cost of the treatment I am recommending for you is $3,450 after your insurance benefits. How would you like to pay for that?”

INSTEAD say:

“Mr. Jones, before I explain the treatment I believe would be best for you, I want to let you know that we know your life does not revolve around dentistry. That’s why we will work hard to make the care you need fit your schedule and budget. We have several payment solutions.”
Use the active listening skills developed by Dr. Thomas Gordon to make sure you understand what the patient is saying to you.

Don’t say:

“Ms. Jones, the fee for the recommended treatment is $800. Let’s discuss our available methods of payment so that we can find the one that best suits your needs.”

“$800! You have got to be kidding. For one tooth?”

“Yes, $800.”

“You know what? I can’t believe it costs that much to fix this tooth. I just think I’ll have him pull it out.”

“OK, I’ll let the doctor know what you’ve decided.”

INSTEAD say:

“Ms. Jones, the fee for the recommended treatment is $800. Let’s discuss our available methods of payment so that we can find the one that best suits your needs.”

“$800! You have got to be kidding. For one tooth?”

“Ms. Jones, you seem surprised by the fee. You want to save your tooth and the doctor shared with you all the care that is going to be required to do so?”

“Well, yes.”

“So are you concerned about the total cost or finding a way to pay?”

“Finding a way to pay, I guess.”

“I need to find a way to save the tooth, and you’d like a payment option that’s less stressful for you.”

“Yes. Then I’ll get the dentistry the doctor is recommending done.”

Don’t let insurance benefit limitations restrict the care the patient receives.

Don’t say:

“Mr. Jones, your insurance will only cover $1,000 of the $2,450 treatment fee.”

“Oh, well, I don’t think I can afford treatment if my insurance doesn’t cover it.”

“Well, we can do some now. And then wait until next year and do some more then.”

INSTEAD say:

“Mr. Jones, we’ll do the best we can to maximize your insurance benefits, but it looks like only about $1,000 of the cost of care will be covered, leaving $1,450 as your investment.”

“Oh, well, I don’t think I can afford treatment if my insurance doesn’t cover it.”

“Mr. Jones, if paying for treatment was not an issue, is this the type of care you’d want to move forward with?”

“Well, yes.”

“What if we can find a way for you to comfortably pay the portion not covered by insurance? We have a financing solution that requires no initial out-of-pocket cost, and it allows you to get the care you need while fitting payments into your budget. May I tell you more about this option?”

“Well, sure . . . ”

Great financial conversations don’t just happen; they are planned, practiced, and use proven communication techniques. Remember, patients want information and advice-especially when it comes to their mouths and money. So don’t just give treatment and payment options; give solutions that make care easy to accept.

Originally published in Dental Economics


 

cathy jameson

Contributor:

Cathy lectures for dental organizations and conventions throughout the United States and the world. She provides lectures, seminars, and workshops, as well as consulting services for numerous dental companies and corporations. She presents full or half day programs on subjects ranging from the business management of the practice to communication and teambuilding. She has developed and presents 16 separate and unique lectures and is regularly presiding over standing room only and sold out sessions.

 

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