One of the greatest challenges dentists have always faced is what to do about the patient who genuinely wants to participate in getting the dental care you recommend, but they honestly can’t afford it. You don’t want to turn these patients away; however, you do need to be compensated fairly for your services. Also, you don’t want to get into the lending business.
Traditionally the most common solution has been to direct patients to a third-party lender. Lately many of these lenders seem to be tightening their eligibility requirements and more and more patients are being denied credit for treatment they really want.
Either that, or the patient is simply uncomfortable about going into debt with these institutions.
Here is one possible solution I learned about from a dentist who has been using it successfully in his practice with patients he really wants to help.
First of all, they ask the patient what amount they feel they would be able to handle on a monthly basis (you will often be surprised by how much that is). Then the practice offers to start a pre-payment plan. The patient makes the monthly payments, and then usually around the time of their next hygiene appointment when a significant portion has been paid, the treatment begins. This way the dentist doesn’t deliver services until the patient has already made a significant financial commitment. This way the risk is minimized and the patient gets the care they need - on very agreeable terms.
For many practices in these economic times, you sometimes have to get creative about helping patients find a way. I am sharing this example because I really like the spirit this dentist shows in creating a workable solution to help his patients afford the great care he can deliver in a way that is responsible for both parties. It’s a perfect illustration of how in this profession; you can do good while doing well. But this is just one example. I would be interested in hearing from you on this. What strategies have you used to help patients find a way to make it work financially?
(Click this link to read more dental practice management articles by Imtiaz Manji.)