It's a challenge that cuts across so many professions–dental/orthodontics, cosmetic surgery, vision correction–anywhere the price of elective care seems just out of reach for the patient who needs and wants your services.
It's all too familiar. Cost is often the last thing that's discussed around the office. It pops up just before scheduling professional treatment. By this point in the process, both you and the patient have a good idea of what's needed and why. And they agree.
What happens next?
They really want your services–and you want to help them say "yes." But money seems to stand in the way. So instead of going forward, they delay...they decline...or maybe they settle for something that's less than best possible care. (Or worse, they may shop for a "lower price" somewhere else.) Your case acceptance average falls.
Neither price nor financing should be the last thing on the agenda for discussion. "Price" is a number on a monetary scale, but "value" and "worth" are personal values. It's important to present the value and benefits of your services, and you're probably good at getting that across to the patient. But don't avoid the subject of affordability and keeping your professional services within the financial means of patients. After all, your services for the patient are worth it.
For patients who need it, having financing options for healthcare procedures keeps your professional services within their reach. And while you want to make this available in your office, you don't want to become the banker. Trying to carry the paper yourself is usually not a good idea.
The better course is working with the third-party finance resource–and there are plenty of options. But in the third-party world the details make a big difference and you need to select the right company. Businesses that provide patient financing typically arrange to pay the practice slightly less than the full amount that is owed by the patient. This difference, plus any interest on the credit extended to the patient, is how they make their money.
The challenge is to know which of these many firms has the best program for you and for the patient. The arrangements can vary in terms of what procedures can be financed, how they go about approving the patient's application (and how quickly), what it takes to set it up, and how and when the physician's practice gets paid for services.
Fortunately, we know several respected and experienced firms that work closely with professional practices, deliver on their services and remove the headaches from your office. We can usually suggest reputable and experienced options that are a good fit for your practice, profession and type of procedures that fit well with third-party financing.
With patient financing available, your office can help provide patients with a path to the happiness they want. But a careful choice of words makes a difference.
First, avoid using the "F-word." Sometimes the word "financing" (which is truly the subject at hand) is not a user-friendly term. It's a word that can touch negative feelings for various reasons. While people are open to the benefits of financing, the name itself can be off-putting. So avoid using the "F-word," and select the words of benefit.
Benefit: "Easy payment plan." A principal benefit (of financing) is that, instead of one lump sum, the cost becomes smaller bites spread over a more comfortable length of time. It's the size of the individual payments that are compared to the monthly household budget. For most of us, buying a refrigerator, a car or larger ticket service is not about interest rate or the total cost, it's all about the ability to handle an easy monthly payment.
Benefit: "Up to one year same as cash." Being able to pay over time without interest is a compelling option which is available through some of the larger third-party finance companies. Consumers perceive interest as the pinch-point of "financing," and no-interest options have a "painless" appeal.
Benefit: "Flexible terms." Because everyone's situation is different, having a range of options opens the door to finding the right answer for the individual's need. The benefit for most people is having a choice and a voice in selecting the term and other details that are most comfortable for them. It's also a benefit for the office because having multiple options allows you to find a solution for more patients.
Benefit: "Instant approval." This is one of your most powerful tools. When patients have sought you out, visited your office, discussed and understands the course of treatment and envisions the likely outcome... they are usually ready to buy. And when cost is a challenge, it's important to have an answer immediately. The larger finance companies can usually qualify and approve patients in a matter of minutes, while they are still in your office. This benefit keeps the process moving forward seamlessly. (And your closure rate goes up dramatically.)
Not every patient needs financing for elective care procedures, but having the option available in your office is mighty helpful for those who do. It also provides your office with another means to serve your patient base. Using the right words helps communicate the benefits, and increases case acceptance. Call us for our insight about selecting a third-party financing company.
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