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Barriers to Case Acceptance

By Linda L. Miles CSP, CMC, Founder LLM&A


If your case acceptance isn’t where you’d like it to be, it’s natural to focus on the reasons patients give for delaying or declining care. Did you know, however, dentists and their teams can also create barriers to case acceptance? I have found there are three key barriers that we unknowingly place in front of patients that actually make it harder for them to get the care the need. The good news is that these barriers, once you realize you have them, are easy to remove, providing a smooth path to patient case acceptance.

Barrier #1: Limiting the Possibilities

Patients cannot accept comprehensive dentistry if you don’t diagnose it, recommend it and make it as easy as possible for them to achieve. Many practices, especially over the past two years, have settled for performing minimal care. They fix what’s broken. They heal what hurts. But they rarely provide patients with a vision of what comprehensive dentistry looks like and how it would benefit them, clinically and aesthetically. When you recommend comprehensive dentistry, patients may not immediately schedule this level of care. You will still fix what’s broken and heal what hurts right now. But you will also plant a seed of possibility in patients’ minds. So when it’s the right time for them, they can get the dentistry done. 

Barrier #2: Not Making CE and Training a Priority 

When a dentist graduates from dental school, they are educated and excited about dentistry and armed with the latest information and newest techniques. Then five, ten or even fifteen busy years go by. They’ve managed to squeeze in some CE credits, but have not taken the time to pursue CE which would enable them to offer patients new technology and treatment. It’s human nature, especially when you have a busy job and life, to settle into what’s familiar and comfortable. But in dentistry, technology is improving at an exponential rate and it takes effort to keep up with clinical advancements. When you don’t take advantage of CE courses, especially hands-on opportunities, you won’t be able to offer patients new procedures and treatment options, which can limit case acceptance. The team also needs to proactively improve their skills, especially verbal communication skills. These investments in yourself and team can create new opportunities and enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty. I encourage you to invest in yourself and your team and choose CE courses that will refresh and renew your passion for dentistry and expand your services to patients.

Barrier #3: Not Understanding How Truly Valuable You Are

I’ve found 75% of case acceptance breaks down during the financial discussion. The way finances are discussed can either encourage the patient to move forward with care, or communicate the team member’s own perception of the cost and value of the dentistry. If you and your team don’t firmly and enthusiastically believe that you provide patients with a valuable service and deserve to be appropriately compensated for your training and skills, your patients won’t believe it either. And if patients do not value you and your talent, they won’t value the dentistry and won’t move forward with care. To break down this barrier to case acceptance you must first recognize and celebrate the positive impact you have on patients’ lives. During the financial discussion, make sure your team understands their role is to present your best care recommendations and communicate to patients both verbally and emotionally an enthusiasm for, and confidence in, those recommendations. Then, they must make it financially easy for patients to move forward with the dentistry. Be consistent in your fees and payment options by making sure the entire team uses a written financial policy that details all payment options available, including a cash courtesy, consumer credit cards and a healthcare credit card such as CareCredit. It can be beneficial to let patients know, even before the clinical examination, that financial options are available. You can place information about your payment options on your website and include it in your new patient welcome packets.

Being a dentist is about giving patients what they need – and what they deserve. To increase case acceptance and break down the three key barriers, we simply give patients a vision of comprehensive care, skillfully offer the best technology and techniques and then appropriately set fees and communicate the value we deliver. Sometimes the patient may not have the time or the money to move forward with care. But, because you have done everything in their best interests, they will be back and in the chair sooner than you think. Kirk Sweigard

Contact Us

Kirk Sweigard, Care Credit
Sr Business Development Manager
Phone: 800.300.3046, Ext. 4186

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