The Compassionate Blog

How To Fend Off Patient Sticker Shock

Many patients may realize suggested treatment can improve their smile, well being and self-esteem, but they worry about how they will pay for the procedure. Patients trust you to suggest the right treatment, but they need the peace of mind to know they can afford the treatment being offered.

As a dentist, there is a real opportunity for you to alleviate cost anxiety, which will lead to a higher rate of accepted cases for your practice in the long run. There are several steps you can take to be proactive about patient “sticker shock.”

Conversations about cost can be daunting — perhaps even embarrassing — for patients that would rather keep their finances private. How you direct the discussion will determine how effectively you guide patients toward a path of affordability.

Don’t Wait For Patients to Bring Up Cost

Patients who are worried about the costs of their care won’t always be ready to bring up the subject despite, and often because of, their concern about affordability. By proactively introducing payment plans early in the process, you have a better chance of giving the patient a sense of relief even if you aren’t already certain it’s a problem.

A good way to bring up payment options, rather than bring them up arbitrarily, is to tie the discussion in with a rundown of the benefits of a specific treatment. Once a patient can envision a brighter or straighter smile and the sense of confidence that comes with it, the more receptive they will be to moving forward with an affordable treatment plan. Case studies from your own practice — like the classic before-and-after imagery — can be especially powerful for this.

Patients respond positively to value, especially if they can see it firsthand.

Keep in mind that patients might bring up costs before you, though not always directly. This is code to start the affordable payment conversation and work through a patient’s options to relieve any potential anxiety. Once you’ve gathered that a patient might need or want a plan, the process to set up a plan is as quick as it is easy.

Patients Want You to Recommend the Best Treatment

Patients don’t want costs to interfere with their ability to get the care they deserve. They want the best possible solution for their diagnosis, and they will look to you to help them navigate affording the care they need. Affordable payment plans give you this opportunity, whether you or an office manager break down plans for each patient.  

Patients will often trust that you will recommend the most optimal treatment for them. That said, they might also be more comfortable discussing the finer details of their financial situation with an office manager or someone in the finance office. According to Susan Goold, MD, a professor of internal medicine and health management at the University of Michigan who co-authored a study on the patient-doctor cost conversation, patients often appear more comfortable talking with someone other than their physician about finances.

Even if you decide someone else in your practice should lead the primary conversation about payment, this shouldn’t shut the window for you to bring up potential alternatives or payment plans that could help them. In this way, you can address the cost concern and still help the patient feel like they’re not missing out on the care they deserve.

Keep Affordable Healthcare Payment Plans Top-Of-Mind

Offering payment plans that make care affordable for each unique patient is a powerful tool for your cost conversation. Through a program like Compassionate Finance, you can quickly allow your patient to peruse and decide on a payment plan that accommodates their individual financial situation. The application process takes only a few minutes to complete, so patients can find what works for them and you don’t have to delay a procedure.

Whether or not you lead the conversation about payment options, simply and quickly breaking down how a payment plan works can do wonders to put patients at ease. Flexible payment plans dramatically raise the chance that they move forward with the procedure they need, which means less patients walking out your door without care.

So long as patients leave your office with a plan in place, the treatment they deserve will be within reach. 

New Call-to-action