Want to hold your head higher? Be more respectful and transparent about costs

Earlier in my dental career, I was sometimes reluctant to walk in through the front door. I didn’t feel good about discussing the cost of my services with patients. (Heck, I didn’t feel quite right about the cost of my services in general!) So, I’d use the back door and kind of hide out in my office between procedures.

These days, I proudly use the front door. And I don’t flinch when it’s time to talk to patients about what a procedure will cost, why it costs that amount, and what they’re getting for their money.

There are too many dentists (and healthcare providers of all kinds, really) who lead their patients down a path of totally unaffordable care. These practitioners may create expensive, “comprehensive” treatment plans which include a slew of procedures—some truly necessary and others less so.

Faced with thousands of dollars’ worth of work that they cannot afford, their patients slink away without treatment. Meanwhile, time passes, and each untreated patient’s primary issues worsen.

This paradigm became unacceptable to me, so I changed my own approach. Now, when I meet with patients, we break potential treatment plans into smaller, manageable pieces. Together, we prioritize those pieces. For instance, if a patient has an infection or a cavity, I stress the importance of taking care of those items first. Does the patient also have cosmetic issues? We can work out a timeframe and budget that is comfortable for them.

I respect my patients by empowering them with the truth. These are items you might not want to put off any longer, and this is why. This is what each piece of your potential treatment plan will cost, and these are the reasons behind that cost.

Last but certainly not least, I remind them: You didn’t get into this situation overnight, and you don’t have to get out of it overnight. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be here for you.

In that environment, patients are much more likely to take care of their primary issues. As soon as they’re financially able, they’ll often be back for additional treatment, too.