Increase dental patient value and treatment plan acceptance

shutterstock_53366701Simon Hocken gives a step-by-step guide on how to treat new patients and how to improve your treatment acceptance.

New patient value and the tendency of patients to accept treatment plans are fundamental to the commercial success of your practice.

Average new patient value in private practices across the Breathe portfolio ranges from £300 to £4,500, and acceptance ranges from 30 to 100%, and every practice has a sweet spot. Outside of central London you might aim for an average new patient value of £800-£1,500 and an acceptance rate of around 70-85%.

Helping principals achieve this is a core area of Breathe’s work, and as such we have developed a checklist for practices looking to provide long-term restorative solutions within three years of first meeting the patient.

Twenty one steps to raise new patient value and treatment acceptance

  1. Collect the patient from the reception and introduce yourself
  2. Introduce the patient to your nurse and sit in a non-clinical area of your surgery or, ideally, a dedicated treatment coordination room
  3. Ask questions so as to quickly establish soft facts and build rapport and trust. Listen attentively
  4. Ask the patient what you can do for them
  5. Ask the patient the magic wand question: ‘If I had a magic wand and by waving it your mouth would look and feel exactly as you want it to, how would it look and feel?’
  6. Listen carefully to their answer and play it back to them
  7. Ask the patient: ‘What would it mean to you if we could achieve this?’ Listen carefully and play back their answer to them
  8. Move to the surgical area, explain to the patient that you are going to show them everything you can see in their mouth and tell them what it means
  9. Use mirrors, intra and extra oral cameras and radiographs. Take your time. Show and tell the patient about all their pathology, as you find it (not at the end). Don’t offer solutions at this stage
  10. Take the patient back to the non-clinical area or the treatment coordination room where you will have access to the patient’s records and visuals
  11. Restate, show them and prioritise the pathology in terms of its potential effect on the patient’s health and wellbeing
  12. Use fear of loss to underline the patient’s problems, don’t make light of them
  13. Ask the patient what they would like to do. Let the question hang. Don’t become the solution to the problems until/unless the patient invites you to be
  14. If the patient says: ‘I’d like you to fix me,’ or: ‘What can be done?’ offer a first treatment plan that addresses the wishes of the patient in points four, five and seven while the patient is with you and tell the patient the fee for this solution. Position it as your recommendation and what you would wish for your father/brother/son/best friend
  15. Shut up and let the patient respond
  16. If favourable, try closing with: ‘Shall we get started and book you an appointment?’
  17. If they have objections, address them, offer a solution to their objection, and try closing again
  18. If they want to think about it, book a time with them to come back to the practice to discuss with you, within a week, no fee for the appointment. If they are willing, combine this review with their first hygiene appointment
  19. Take the patient to reception and tell the receptionist (within hearing of the patient) what has been agreed and what the next steps are
  20. Wait at reception while the receptionist starts the booking process
  21. Shake hands with the patient, welcome them again to your practice and say that you look forward to helping them achieve point seven.

If you need help installing this powerful philosophy into your practice, please call Simon Hocken directly on 07770 430576 or email To receive insider tips every two weeks on how to run a successful dental business subscribe to Breathe’s update newsletter at

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