Freedom from insurance frustration

This article originally appeared on – September 22, 2016

If you have a system that answers them automatically, you will have healthier patients, a thriving practice, and a balanced lifestyle.

Most dentists don’t want patients to think they’re selling, pushing, or manipulating them. Patients leave and write nasty reviews if they think they’re being sold to. But nothing happens in your practice until something is sold. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are, how great your dentistry is, how much better your patient experience is, or whether you’re a nice person. Until you have patients acting in their own self-interest and exercising free will to exchange money, nothing happens.

Your team doesn’t want to sell, but every team member has a role in selling. Appointment coordinators, or DOFIs (Directors of First Impressions) as we call them, sell by giving patients important information and scheduling visits. Hygienists sell by educating patients on sustainable health, function, and esthetics. Treatment coordinators, or financial freedom fighters, as we call them, love to remove financial and insurance barriers to looking great, feeling good, and living a productive life. Dentists are the only ones who do no selling. Dentists only diagnose and treat. This is because when dentists talk, patients hear, “I’m buying my next Porsche thanks to you.” So why bother saying anything?

The problem is that most team members dislike selling. Just by introducing the word, they shut down and won’t learn about selling because their deepest values are against it.

Here is your turning point and your life and practice game changer. Let’s reframe “selling” into “authentic, purpose-driven contributions.” Let’s convert their passion for patient care into payable treatment.

Team members who abhor selling will tell you they are there to make a difference for people. What if they could relate what they do to sharing information to smart people who can make smart decisions? See the difference?

Patients typically want the answers to three questions. If you have a system that answers them, it will make a difference for the patient and you will have a high-performing practice. Here are those three questions.

Why should I care?

In every effective ad, the headline answers the implicit question, “What’s in it for me?” Effective team members can also answer that question. The fine line between selling and helping is the context in which treatment is delivered. Consider these two practices: One delivers world class dentistry, but it is led by a practitioner who needs to pay the bills. The other provides world-class dentistry, too, but its purpose is to save smiles and save lives. Both practices provide the same “commodity,” but the teams have very different reasons for working. Coming from a place of value creation, versus getting something from someone else, changes everything. Be a practice that solves problems for patients and makes their lives better.

Can I do this?

So often dental teams assume that the primary reasons patients do not move forward with treatment is lack of time, money, or insurance. These are the reasons patients give because they know you buy into them. But sometimes patients are afraid to let you know they are afraid. In your new patient interviews, always ask what their past dental experiences were like.

Is it worth it?

Shift away from selling “commodities,” like crowns, fillings, and braces. Create a process to engage with patients and their inherent emotional drivers: family, occupation, and recreation. “Family” is about patients living longer, more productive years that they can share with their grandchildren. “Occupation” is about enhancing patients’ smiles and advancing their careers. “Recreation” is about patients’ oral health being directly connected to overall health-good dental health lets them do the things they enjoy.


It’s no wonder that patients still only do whatever their insurance covers and miss their hygiene appointments: they don’t know why they need treatment. Your patients should know their whys-why they show up, why they are on time for their appointments, why they are taking x-rays, why their hygiene appointments are vital to overall health, and why they truly need recommended treatment (so they should want to agree to it). Then you can have the practice and life of your dreams.

Understand the three questions every patient asks. When you satisfy them, you have the formula for helping them versus selling them. Everyone wins.

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