Presenting Treatment Plans – the Do’s and Don’ts

Proper treatment-plan presentation can boom your practice, give your patients the best quality of care and can give you the ability to demonstrate how much you care for your patients. It can also generate more referrals from happy patients and help the practice to grow to its fullest.

  1. Are you advocating for the patient’s health or his wallet?

    How should a treatment plan be presented?

    What can a doctor and staff do to ensure a high acceptance rate?

    What does all this have to do with sales?

    These questions, left unanswered, could potentially cost a practice untold sums, quality of care can suffer, new and repeat business can drop off, office morale can be low and practicing can lose it’s entire purpose if patients are not receiving the care that they need.

    Confusion About “Sales” Will Cost Practices a Fortune

    A sale is simply an exchange where all parties involved receive something of value. In healthcare professions, a patient receives care to fix a health problem and/or maintain good health. In exchange for the work done, the staff and doctor are paid.

    A successful practice includes doctors and staff who care enough to sell patients exactly what they need. The doctor is key in the sales cycle because without the doctor diagnosing and planning treatment for the correct care, there would be nothing to sell.

    Most confusion stems from the false ideas that people have about sales. High-pressure techniques used by some people can leave a bad impression and make patients/clients want to shy away from buying at all. These techniques are not true sales techniques. In fact, using them can set a doctor up for failure. So too does going out of your way to avoid using any sales techniques at all.

    Convincing vs. Selling

    Convincing a person that they need to buy something is a different activity than selling them on an idea, service or product. Selling is really nothing more than obtaining agreement. A patient who understands the treatment needed and agrees that it needs to be done — and they are going to do it — is a result of a successful treatment plan presentation. In an attempt to convince a patient to accept a plan, a doctor often talks too much, which in most cases works against him. Good communication, then, becomes a key factor. A doctor using communication skills that serve to enlighten and educate will bring a patient to a point of understanding and agreement.

    The Patient vs. The Wallet

    Doctors can become so worried about whether or not the patient is going to consider a plan too expensive that they actually neglect giving the patient the true treatment plan. We have not met a doctor who does not consider him/herself a good technician. Yet, when it comes to passing treatment information along to a patient, a doctor can get into the habit of making the presentation more palatable by reducing the plan. Concerns about what the patient might think can get in the way. The wallet, then, becomes the center of attention rather than the exact treatment that the patient needs. Doctors do know what patients need, and this should be clearly expressed to the patient or the likelihood of primarily doing “patch-up” work will enter into the practice.

    Plan A or Plan B or Plan C?

    The doctor may give the patient too many choices. The patient is not a physician and, therefore, does not know what’s best for their health. Patients rely on the doctor to tell them what they need. If the doctor doesn’t do that but gives them a choice between Plan A, Plan B or Plan C, the patient will naturally ask the cost of the different plans and select the least expensive one. Asking a patient to make a choice between a $600 plan, a $350 plan and a $195 plan will cause suspicion. One of the most common misconceptions about doctors is that they’re all rich. A patient may wonder why you would do a $600 plan if a $195 plan will suffice.

    “Maybe” vs. “You Need”

    As mentioned, doctors know what their patients need in order to be in good health, now and in the future. Years and years and years were spent in school learning this. However, when discussing treatment with patients, doctors will often “water down” the presentation. Phrases such as “I think” or “Maybe it’s a good idea” instead of “You need” create uncertainty in the patient’s mind. If a patient needs $1000 worth of care, but this is presented to them with obvious hesitation, they will get the idea that it’s an optional treatment. They will not understand that it is vital to their well-being. A doctor who truly believes in the care that they are providing and who believes the care is important does not need to back-off from stating it as such. Patients appreciate sincerity and honesty.

    Hesitancy vs. Help

    Remember this: the doctor is not responsible for the condition that the patient is in when they come to the practice. If the patient does need $1000 worth of care, it’s not the doctor that caused the situation. A doctor who approaches a sales presentation in a hesitant or apologetic manner is not helping the patient.

    Integrity

    We’ve not encountered a single doctor who feels good about letting a patient walk out the door with less care than they actually needed. Allowing worry about the financial arrangements or other factors to enter into the treatment-plan presentation sets a practice up for dissatisfied patients in the future. Patients who have to return for the same problems may consider that the work wasn’t done correctly the first time, when, in fact, it is usually a matter of the full treatment not being presented and completed that brings a patient back for “repairs.” Plans should be presented based on what the doctor knows that the patient needs. Thoroughness and high quality healthcare actually save a patient money in the long run. And, fully satisfied patients will refer new business into the practice.

    Efficient Organization

    Failure to sell a volume of services which are capable of creating financial stability in a practice can be traced back to a lack of job descriptions, office policy and general organization. As the senior technician, the doctor’s primary responsibility lies in correctly diagnosing and treating patients. It is imperative to implement organizational procedures which allow the doctor to work closely with one of their staff members who assumes the responsibility of making financial arrangements with patients. This system allows the doctor to focus 100% of their attention on patient care. A fully trained Financial Manager can make all the difference in the world. When you go to buy a new car, do you call the owner of General Motors to work out payment arrangements, or do you deal with the finance department? You as the doctor need to present the best course of treatment for your patient and then direct them to your financial manager to work out the payment details. That is the bottom line.

    Providing the Best

    Each area of a practice is directly affected, in one way or another, by what occurs during treatment-plan presentations. It has been found that this one activity, treatment-plan presentation, has been a pivotal point in the success or failure of a practice. If treatment is not being sold in volume, or if patients become unhappy due to “poor-quality” work, a practice’s potential can never be realized.

    Recent surveys we’ve conducted have revealed that the most important quality that patients look for in a doctor is an honest and caring attitude. Secondly, they want to know that they are receiving competent care. The treatment presentation is key to providing patients what they’ve reported as important to them. It is a time when a doctor can demonstrate integrity, a caring attitude and a dedication to the long term well-being for each and every patient. When not conducted competently, it can be a time when the patient becomes confused, loses confidence in the doctor and makes bad decisions regarding their health.

    In closing, give your patients the best quality of care, demonstrate how much you care for your patients, generate more referrals from happy patients and help the practice to grow to its fullest.

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