Richard Scarborough explores ways to combat a reluctance to talk to patients about finance…
Offering your patients the ability to pay for treatment by finance provides them with one more way to go ahead with treatment.
It can increase your treatment uptake, patients’ satisfaction and your revenue. And yet there is often a reluctance to bring up the idea of finance and money.
This could be for a number of reasons. A common one is a reluctance to be seen as being pushy or too much of a salesperson.
Whilst this is understandable, talking money is a necessary part of running a business that is profitable, sustainable and as a result can continue to provide its patients with high quality, ethical care.
A structured approach to how the price of a treatment and patient finance (where relevant) is introduced and discussed can make it much easier. If it becomes a set step in the patient journey, this discussion becomes just another part of the role and the team member responsible for talking about it will know that this is what is expected of them.
If you have a team who find it hard to discuss fees and finance, or who are not sure of the best way to bring it up, first seek understand what the barriers are. In my experience one of the most common barriers is confidence. But is it confidence in their knowledge about the finance products and fear of not being able to answer a patient’s questions or is it an inability to talk about money and prices? Tackle these scenarios with appropriate training, be that specific training on patient finance or an ethical selling skills course.
On a more informal level, it can be a good idea to review, as a team, the reasons why your practice offers finance, the options available and the benefits for your patients. The more comfortable and confident your team are in understanding what your finance offering is and how it can make costly treatments affordable for some patients, the happier they will be to proactively bring it up.
Otherwise, it is not uncommon for a catch-22 situation to arise, with patients assuming that the practice staff would mention finance if they offered it and the practice team members assuming that the patient would ask about finance if they had a need for it. Therefore, nobody brings it up.
So, the patient either doesn’t have the treatment they want or attends another practice that more proactively advertises their finance options. Either way, you lose that opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them and increase income.
Rather than shying away from bringing up a discussion around payment options, many dentists who have patient finance suggest the best approach is to talk about it early on in the patient journey.
With some elective treatment options, external marketing and a finance option might have been what brought the patient across the practice threshold, whereas in other scenarios the patient wasn’t expecting an expensive treatment plan when they sat in the chair for their routine check-up. One of the logical questions that may well be going through the patient’s head in this latter scenario, as they are being told about the treatment that they require, will be how much is it going to cost and can I afford it?
By talking about the availability of finance while discussing the treatment options, you are able to let them know early on that they have a way of spreading the cost monthly and for some patients this will put their mind at ease. This can also stop one of the common obstacles to patients not taking up treatment, as without knowing there is the option for finance, they can often mentally dismiss it from the start as being too expensive.
If you feel that you’re not maximising the opportunities of having finance, maybe it is time to review whether it is the f-word in your practice.
Richard Scarborough is the Head of Medenta, a long-established provider of patient finance. Medenta has been supporting dental practices for over 15 years with finance solutions that help patients to say ‘yes’ to the treatment they want. Offering some of the lowest subsidy rates in the market, Medenta is one of the few providers that offers its practices a comprehensive support wrap-around service, which includes an online patient application portal and an e-learning suite containing a range of learning modules, many of which come with vCPD and have been tailored specifically to the dental industry.
If you’re interested in learning how Medenta can help you to improve your patient experience, give us a call on: 01691 684175, or visit: www.medenta.com
Medenta Finance Limited is a credit broker and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Medenta Finance Limited (Registered in Scotland No SC276679) Registered address: 50 Lothian Road, Festival Square, Edinburgh, EH3 9WJ. Tel: 01691 684175.