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Increasing Case Acceptance: Five Bridges Doctors Need to Cross

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

case acceptance serviceHow to get comfortable with the process of helping people benefit from what you do.

Case acceptance is a process of identifying and solving people's problems -- helping someone discover value in what you can provide for them. By another name, that's sales.

Not everyone is comfortable with that term. Perhaps they think of "sales" as a four-letter word. Well, that's five-letters, but unflattering stereotypes may come to mind nevertheless. The old concept of "selling" has a negative association of persuading people to buy things they may or may not want or need. And who wants that?

Fortunately, the modern definition is much improved - it not only feels better, but it is far more honest and effective as a win-win proposition. The new definition: Selling is serving; bringing a solution to a person with a need. While we may not like the "S-word" nor want anything to do with the old arm-twisting image of other businesses - daily interaction is filled with sales. And while case acceptance is obviously important for elective care, it really is a critical part of most healthcare interactions. (For example, thousands die each year due to their failure to take drugs their doctors prescribed.)

Put another way, Case Acceptance helps people.

Successful case acceptance is based on developing a personal style that helps the patient achieve what they want. Zig Ziglar, the well-known success author and business speaker puts it another way: "You can get everything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want."

The Five Basic Obstacles

We know from experience in working with thousands of practices that this process is not automatic or easy. It requires active listening skills to focus on and understand what the patient is saying. Talk in a conducive environment, ask open-ended questions, take time to listen and hear. And, according to Ziglar: "Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, and no trust. For greater case acceptance, listen carefully and be prepared to answer these issues:

  • NO NEED: Sometimes the perception of need can be subjective. But it can also be about the patient having a clear vision of the results or outcome they can have. Sometimes "before-and-after" photos can help communicate benefits and a greater vision of the value.
  • NO MONEY: The answer here of course is to provide affordability options - and many practices have resources to help the individual. But understandably, cost and affordability can be a sensitive issue with some people, so listen closely to what's said and NOT said. The challenge with "no money" is that the patient may not bring it up, avoid the issue or disguise the need.
  • NO HURRY: Issues of need, desire and "hurry" can be interrelated. Understanding urgency may be a matter of clearly communicating the length of time required to move through a course of treatment...and that results - achieving something they truly need and desire - means starting sooner rather than later.
  • NO DESIRE: This issue will often be a matter of emotion or personal well-being. An individual may have no desire, for example, for cosmetic dentistry or even a bright smile. The basis of their desire may actually be rooted in a better appearance for self-esteem or self-confidence.
  • NO TRUST: The issue of trust in a professional practice environment is something tested and measured on a high-value system. An environment and relationship of trust is usually a primary service goal for the practice. Without an established basis of trust, the patient is not likely to ever return to the practice.

Among these five areas of concern - trust is often an ingredient related to each of the others.

The Single Most Important Key to Case Acceptance:

Of course the most important step in achieving greater case acceptance is asking for the patient's commitment to begin. We have seen highly skilled professionals who make a wonderful, benefit-laden presentation and simply stop for whatever reason. When the next step is left as vague and undefined, or up to the patient to ask, there's a strong chance it will simply not happen.

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