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The Real Reasons Patients Say I’ll Think About It

Why Patients Avoid TreatmentBy Daniel Midson-Short

For most dentists, their typical day consists of around 7 or more appointments with their patients. All have some sort of discussion around treatment, or at least the suggestion that the patient should consider taking better care of their mouth.

One of the most common responses you hear as a dentist whenever you suggest a course of treatment is the phrase ‘I’ll think about it.

While this might seem encouraging, it is also a smoke screen given by patients so they can sneak out the door of your practice without committing any money or time towards treatment.

Why do so many patients say “I’ll think about it” when what they really mean is “No, I don’t want to”?

Believe it or not, it all comes down to the fact that they like you. They say it because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Consider this… would you rather say no to a stranger or a good friend? Surprisingly, most people find it harder to say no to a good friend because they don’t want things to be awkward the next time you see them.

In this same way, often your patients start feeling awkward if they have to say, ‘No thanks’ to your treatment recommendations.

If you are getting a lot of “I’ll think about it” in your practice, then you know two things are true:

  1. Your patients like you and don’t want things to be uncomfortable
  2. You need a new approach so they don’t feel bad telling you the truth

In the Primespeak approach to the new patient exam, we work to ensure the “I’ll think about it” situation doesn’t need to arise. 

The key is to explain their conditions in a way that helps your patient understand the reality, and then allow them to make whatever decision feels right for them.

It is important that the patient is involved in the discussion of the conditions and what will happen if things are left as they are. This is not meant to be a lecture, but an open discussion. By helping the patient understand, it empowers them to make a better decision.

Then, when you offer the options and pass back the choice to them (and you avoid recommending or telling them what to do), it empowers them to be honest and make the best choice for them.

And as a bonus, you will find more patients being open and honest with you, and nobody will feel awkward anymore.

The whole Primespeak communication system is designed to build and maintain patient trust and help them understand what is happening in their mouth. From there it is up to them to decide what they want to do.

This approach alleviates the sales pressure and most of all, reduces the chances of them saying “I’ll think about it”. It also makes them more honest if they are not in a financial position to do the treatment at that moment.

Most dentists who attend the Primespeak training say they have a lot less patients avoiding treatment, and - perhaps best of all - they feel a lot less ‘salesy’ when giving patients the options for treatment.

Now, isn't that something worth thinking about?

Dental Patient Communication Quiz

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr