by Kristine Hodsdon

When patients say, “I can’t afford it,” “will insurance cover it,” or fill in the blank______- What do you say in return?

For many professionals, that is the end of the conversation. Alternatively, they blurt out their conditioned or default phrase, “well, we will just send in a pre-authorization and call you when it comes in.”

When supporting doctors and their teams in case acceptance and financial arrangement conversations, I help them move beyond patients’ perceived barriers to treatment and avoid the dreaded “maybe, I’ll call you” response. Going beyond means, creating a different conversation where you begin to stand in the fire for your patients. It is not about scripts or magical phrases. These types of tactics make many professionals feel pushy, obnoxious, salesy and not authentic in conversations with patients. What we all want from one another is to connect. When we connect, we feel a special affinity with the person whom we believe really understands us.

“Language comes from our desire to move beyond our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. Words by themselves are lifeless; they’re inert. They’re nothing more than symbols. So much of our experience is intangible; so much of what we perceive cannot be adequately expressed. And because of that, when we communicate with one another, and we feel we’ve connected, that we’re understood — it’s almost like having a spiritual communion with that person.” Kim Krizan from the movie “Waking Life.”

When you lose patient connection, there is an energy shift occurring. This shift is a change in the context of the conversation and sometimes turns into feeling pushy or only focusing on the production numbers. This energy shift is metaphorically like an athlete running the 400-meter hurdles. When you lose connection and go into “sales or convincing mode,” you jump over the “why” or more specifically “why this treatment is important to them.” When you begin to feel the conversation is getting icky, it is because we have lost our focus on one of the following:

  • the vision of the practice, why we do what we do,
  • what is clinically essential,
  • the patients overall health and well-being, and or
  • your patients’ emotional motivators or concerns.

And once you either are beginning to work harder than the patient to schedule he/her treatment or begin to feel an internal pressure to “close the deal,” you are trying to get your patient to do something he/she do not YET want to do (even though you know, it will benefit their health and smile.)

So, the next time you are engaged in treatment or money conversations and notice you are feeling “salesy or pushy” or that the patients is resisting- realize that disconnect has probably occurred. Moreover, connection equals conversion. So, take a breath, pause and hold the possibility for your patient’s oral health.

Kristine Hodsdon RDH, MSEC, a.k.a. the Dental Feminista, developed Athena Success Coaching to teach women leaders the 9 success lessons that will awaken their feminine leadership and achieve their higher level of success. Visit with inquiries regarding her consulting and trainings or to get REBOOT Your INCOME, FREE Step-by-Step 30-Minute Training.





Kristine Hodsdon is an award winning international speaker who is passionate about coaching proven strategies into action that will support practice owners make their offices and teams more engaged and profitable.


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