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Harsh Truth About Treatment Acceptance

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Let’s talk about what we have more control over treatment acceptance than we realize.

Years ago, I used to believe that most treatment acceptance had to do with how our recommendations and financing options were presented to patients by the treatment coordinator and that cases would be accepted or lost based on the skills of the closer.

Of course, that could not be further from the truth!

Our treatment coordinator has a little control, but the harsh reality is a vast majority of the acceptance or non-acceptance of our treatment plans is on US, the dentists.

The good news is that means we have the most control over being able to improve acceptance as well!

So, as you are reading this, do you know what your treatment acceptance percentage is? Do you know how many of your patients accept any recommended procedure on their plan? Or how many dollars of those presented are collected?

If you don’t keep track of this information, you might be surprised. I know I was. When I first started tracking my treatment acceptance rate, it was horribly low. It went up significantly when I started watching it regularly and making changes in the way I discussed treatments with patients.  I could see instant results. When you focus on every case that gets away you can start to see trends in your own presentation style and identify techniques that work and those that do not work.

Are you conveying to your patients the urgency of getting treatment now vs 6 months from now?
Are you figuring out the patient’s WHY, and linking treatment recommendations to their priorities and needs?

Do you know that most reasons people give you for not accepting care (have to talk to spouse, don’t know my schedule, don’t have the money) are typically the patient telling you that they have not bought into the problem?

Patients need to accept the problem before they will accept the solution. A key learning point for us is that just because we see something as a problem, even when we show it to the patient, it does not mean it becomes a problem for the patient.

Ex: 80 y/o Mr. Jones comes in with a missing #19. 

You can talk all you want about the problem with a missing tooth. However, to him, that tooth may not matter as it has been gone for 30 years and he has survived just fine without it. It is not a problem for HIM. While his wife, Mrs. Jones, has hated her missing #5 forever, and is pleased to finally see a solution.

So, when presenting problems to the patient, it helps to also ask the patient “how much of a problem is this for you?” If they say something like a 1 (on a scale of 1-10) then you will be wasting your time talking about the solution. You need to stay on the problem first.

The spouse, schedule, and money might be an issue, but the likelihood that they are the main issue is low. These are common excuses patients give because they are external and therefore gives them a graceful way out of the office without the embarrassment of saying they did not understand the treatment, or they did not like something in the office. The rare cases these are truly the primary concerns, the solutions are often simple.

Now, just like our patients, all these techniques and presentation options do not matter if you don’t understand the problem yourself. I know I didn’t realize for years that my practice had a treatment acceptance problem until I started tracking the data.  I believed my treatment acceptance was a lot higher, until I saw the harsh reality.

Have you checked your treatment acceptance rate recently?

How about your unscheduled treatment list?

Knowledge is power.

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