Case Presentation |6 min read

AADOM QUICKcast: Case Acceptance – It Takes a Village!

Video Description:

One of the biggest frustrations that a dental team can experience is when a patient says NO! Whether we are talking about a new or existing patient, achieving commitment to case value and acceptance requires the entire team to understand their roles as key influencers and apply the right communication skills that inspire. In this 20-minute discussion, Amy will share the keys to unifying a team through a Great Patient Experience that rises above financial and dental insurance barriers and secures a Yes.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the Influencing Cycle and its application by each team member in patient management
  • Learn strategies for addressing the most common patient objections to care
  • Develop skills for successfully navigating financial and insurance barriers
  • Discover techniques for creating a learning environment as Office Managers that fosters unity in team communication

Sponsored by: Spear Education

Patient Management: A Hands-On Approach to Collaboration and Commitment

Amy Morgan, Vice President of Practice Growth Strategies, Spear Education


Everyone in dental practice has an opinion about patient management, but what the heck does it really mean? To some it’s as simple as, “Should I charge a patient who no-shows or cancels?” or as complex as, “How do I truly inspire patients to partner with us in their quest for long-term health and wellbeing?”

Everyone will agree that the most important outcomes of well-managed patient relationships include:

  • Value, trust, and commitment
  • Accountability and responsibility
  • Loyal, raving ambassadors
  • Long-term oral health partners

The sticking point is, how do you get there?

There are many books, articles, YouTube videos and webinars out there to address this question. With so much information available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and do nothing. If your patients continuously decline treatment or are not cooperative in their commitment to the practice, then congratulations, you have patient management issues!

This is good news because you and your team can do something differently to get a more desirable result.

In today’s world, communication has become so instantaneous that people are losing the opportunity for intimacy and customization. This is the same problem that has always plagued the old school “medical model” where patients were expected to remain silent, while the expert in the white coat told them what they needed (and the expectation was that the patient would obey, no questions asked).

Occupational Focus vs. Professional Focus

As a practice begins to define what they want their patient management system to look like, it is vital to make some initial decisions.

Will it align with the medical model, which we call an Occupational Focus? Or will it be a holistic, collaborative model that we call a Professional Focus?

The Professional Focus is designed to achieve the intimacy that everyone is missing in today’s communications and therefore is the mode we would like to see more and more practices move towards.

What’s the difference between these approaches?

To begin with, an Occupational Focus is disease oriented versus a Professional Focus which is health-oriented.

A conversation that is disease-focused can sound like, “You have 4 mm pockets and bleeding when you brush, which is evidence of periodontal disease.” The same conversation when health oriented would sound like, “To maintain healthy teeth and gums, we want to see less than 3mm pockets and no bleeding while brushing. This can be accomplished with aggressive periodontal therapy.”

It may seem like a minor change in communication, but for many patients, the mere mention of disease can be perceived as a negative because their desire is to be healthy, forever!

There is another distinct difference in the occupational model. Most communication is centered on telling the patient what to do: “You need to floss.” However, the professional model is focused on guiding the patient involved and actively participating: “Tell me how your home oral health care is going and how can I help you to become even more successful?” The second example creates a partnership of mutual collaboration and commitment and results in the patient feeling in control of his or her future.

The language in each model is completely different. You will easily notice that you are dealing with an occupational practice when you hear things like cleaning, exam, treatment consultation, and recall. At the same time, you can discern a professional practice when you hear things like comprehensive evaluation, treatment conference, prophylaxis, and continuing care.

The point of all this is that if you choose the traditional occupational focus, you will get rapport – a compliant patient who says, “I will.” and then when there are obstacles… won’t. Using the professional focus, you will get a relationship, a committed patient who says, “I want.” and then does everything possible to follow through.

Typically, when you hear complaints of no-shows, cancellations, patients refusing ideal care or patients failing to follow through on their financial arrangements, it’s a sure sign that these patients have been trained in the old-school model and feel out of control. Known passive-aggressive ways to take control back from the dental team are to not show up for an appointment or to not pay bills in a timely manner. You can charge for a cancellation or create policy after policy regarding financial arrangements, but with a patient who’s not committed; these eleventh-hour, reactive efforts will come too late! When you have a relationship based on mutual trust, even if these issues arise, good communication and objection-handling skills will solve them easily.

Building Relationships Is More Important Than Ever

Based on the economic challenges of the previous year, it is important to recognize that even your most committed patients have faced obstacles like never before in maintaining their ideal health.

Those practices that have exhibited flexibility in treatment planning, scheduling, and financial arrangements to help accommodate their patients’ challenges have maintained their productivity and profitability during this tough time.

If you create patient management systems that are flexible and you’re willing to support your patients in these trying times, you’ll have even greater success in the future. The ultimate goal is to create protocols and processes that create value, collaboration, trust, and true commitment. Isn’t that what ideal patient management is all about?

Make sure you’re creating positive patient experiences in your practice. Use Spear’s implementation plan to take action now.

Get a FREE Just-In-Time Resource on Patient Retention Now!

Learn how to combat no-shows and cancellations with Spear’s Just-In-Time Resource on Patient Retention. Get this free resource now – click here!

Amy Morgan, VP of Practice Growth Strategies for Spear Education,  was a consultant, trainer, and CEO of Pride Institute – a nationally acclaimed practice management consulting company – for more than 25 years. She and her teams have revitalized thousands of dental practices using management systems proven to help dentists become more secure, efficient, and profitable. A prolific speaker and writer, Amy has presented throughout North America and Europe. Additionally, she has been featured at numerous regional organizations. She has published a wide variety of columns and whitepapers – providing real solutions to help doctors and their teams address the daily issues that arise in the evolution of their practices.

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