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How To Increase New Patient Production: Converting Emergency Patients Into Larger Treatment Plans

How To Increase New Patient Production: Converting Emergency Patients Into Larger Treatment Plans

Written by Cindy Rogers, RDH



A potential new patient calls your office and says that he has a tooth ache and would like to be seen as soon as possible because he is in pain. Excited at the opportunity to fill a hole in your schedule, you gleefully say “we have some time available today to do an exam and x-ray and get you out of pain.” Great, that is all the guy wants, right?  Well not exactly.

This guy has most likely gotten to this point of pain because he has not had comprehensive dental care in a while, maybe even years.  His dental care has consisted of seeking relief from toothache to toothache. He would get a toothache, go to the dentist, get out of pain and then repeat the cycle of limited exams, PA’s and limited treatment. He was never offered the option of having a comprehensive exam and a full set of x-rays.

You see, this guy is a general contractor, he does not work in dentistry and does not really know much about it. All he knows it that he is in pain and he needs dentistry to help him get out of it. It is our job to educate him on dentistry and what is best for him.  It is also our job as a business to determine what is best for us. This is a win-win opportunity.


Why is a Comprehensive Exam and FMX Best for the Patient? 

1.     He has an active infection spreading throughout his body and it needs to be treated.  Caries and periodontal disease are infectious. If one area is infected than it is likely that others are as well.  Bacteria travels throughout the blood stream to vital organs.

2.     His time is valuable and he needs to get as much done as possible in one appointment. A limited exam and PA are usually scheduled for 30 minutes. He will eventually need one for each area. A comprehensive exam is usually scheduled for 60 minutes. He will have a diagnosis and treatment plan for his whole mouth in one appointment instead of retuning numerous times.

3.     He works hard and wants to get the most out of his insurance and pocket book. The majority of insurance companies only cover two exams of any type per year, regardless if they are a comprehensive or a limited exam. The majority of them also cover preventative services at 100%. To the patient, there is no difference in cost for a comprehensive or a limited exam. He will get the most savings and more benefit out of his insurance by having a comprehensive exam and FMX.  


Why is this best for the Practice?


True, you could possibly add a little bonus in production by doing emergency treatment. But let’s take a look at the bigger production picture. Here is a possible scenario of the opportunity to increase production.

                                                            Limited Exam/PA                    Comprehensive Exam/FMX

Scheduled Time 30 minutes 60 minutes

Production $150 $300

Patient Cost $0 $0

Possible Treatment Plan $500 $5000

By doubling the initial appointment time, you will at least double the production. You will also be able to present him with a whole mouth comprehensive treatment plan. He will be so impressed that you took the extra time with him that he will refer his friends and family as well.


What to Say to the Patient During the Initial Phone Call 

“Mr. South, I understand that you have a toothache and it is our priority to get you out of pain. Let me explain how we can do that and prevent you from suffering again in a few months, all while saving you time and money. How does that sound?”

“Mr. South, I understand you are trying to save money by only fixing one tooth at a time. Let me explain why this is actually costing you more money and keeping you from using the insurance benefit that you pay for.”

“Mr. South, did you know that cavities are contagious? We are concerned that if we only fix the one tooth, that many others in your mouth are still infected and will be causing you pain in the near future. Let me explain how we can help prevent this from happening.”

Getting the patient out of pain is indeed a priority, but, let’s not forget about the big picture. The big picture for him and for your practice.