7 Keys to Case Acceptance

You may have excellent dentistry skills, but if your patient doesn’t accept your proposed treatment, you won’t be able to use them.

Updated 6/30/20

According to practice management consultant Debra Engelhardt-Nash, 80 percent of the reason your patient chooses your care has nothing to do with dentistry.

“The main reason patients choose a dental office, and why they choose to accept your recommended treatment, is the relationship they have with you and your team,” she says. “Get to know the person first, before you start recommending treatment.”

According to the ADA, the average case acceptance rate is 70 percent. A good presentation can help raise it to 80 percent or more.

In addition to building relationships with your patients, Engelhardt-Nash recommends these seven keys to successful case presentation:

  1. Never delegate the treatment presentation. Your patient wants to look into the eyes of the person who’s doing the work.
  2. Always ask your patient’s permission to present treatment. This lets them know it’s going to be a two-way discussion. For example, you could ask, “May I tell you what I would recommend for you if you were my sister?”
  3. Use patient speak, not doctor speak. Avoid dental terminology that may confuse or intimidate your patient, and don’t include unnecessary details.
  4. Look at your patient’s face, not at your computer screen or paper, when you present your case. You’re talking to a person, not a mouth with clinical needs.
  5. Use visual aids. Your patient can’t see what you see inside their mouth. X-rays, before-and-after photos, and close-ups are worth more than 1,000 words.
  6. Present the ideal option, then be quiet and listen. Make your patient feel as if you have all the time in the world, nowhere else to be, and nothing more important than them at that moment.
  7. Before releasing your patient to discuss payment options with your financial coordinator, let them express their concerns and expectations to you. Ask them, “What other questions may I answer for you?”

The last key is the most critical, because the decision to accept treatment must happen with the clinical team—not with the financial coordinator. Be prepared with answers about handling any dental phobias or other barriers to treatment.

“Remember, your patients don’t think of themselves as patients. They think of themselves as people who need your help,” says Engelhardt-Nash. “People like to do the talking, so listen and let them talk.”

Learn More

Dentrix offers a free eBook with more helpful tips on improving case acceptance. Download it at www.dentrix.com/solved.

Read Increasing Treatment Acceptance and Getting Paid for other treatment planning ideas from Debra Englehardt-Nash.

Originally published in the Dentrix eNewsletter, May 2016