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    How patients decide to accept, delay or decline care

    Offering health care financing options can help increase case acceptance.

    Sandra is glad she has dental insurance, but knows that it’s a bit limited. So, she often puts her kid’s oral health needs before her own. And, although she agreed she needed the dentistry the doctor was recommending, she left the practice without committing to care because she knew she had her sister’s wedding, the kids’ birthdays and, hopefully, a small vacation coming up in the next two months.

    And whether or not she has all of these considerations, according to Patients’ Path to Dental Care Purchases Study, Sandra’s decision-making path may take an average of 70 days. During this time, she will seek information and solutions to answer two questions:

    Should I get the care?

    Can I get the care?

    It seems almost every day patients leave the practice to “think about” needed dentistry. Patients’ Path to Dental Care Purchases study surveyed patients who had made, or were planning to make, a dental care purchase that required an out-of-pocket investment. The study findings can provide insight into patients’ decision-making process and how dental teams can help patients accept needed dentistry without delay.

    Related reading: Health care financing options can help patients navigate unplanned dental expenses

    Cost remains a barrier to care

    Not surprisingly, the study found cost of care was a key consideration during the decision-making process, with more patients researching cost and finances than treatment. This means that during the critical financial conversation, patients often are seeking a financing solution. Proactively offering a variety of payment options, including a financing solution, before patients feel they “have” to ask may help patients see how care fits into their budget and lifestyle. In fact, the study found that 52 percent of patients were not aware financing was available for their dental needs, yet 47 percent of patients said they would consider financing through a healthcare credit card like CareCredit if it enabled them to receive care immediately.

    It’s easy to let patients know about CareCredit. Trisha L., an OM from Bluffton, South Carolina, has several ways to let patients know financing is available. “We want to give patients a heads-up before they even come in. We explain the different financing options we have with CareCredit on the phone. And it’s on our financial policy and patient registration form. On the form, we ask all our patients their preferred method of payment before the appointment. If they circle CareCredit, we can be proactive and prepared to present their financing plan options and estimated monthly payments during the treatment plan discussion.”  

    Office Manager Joanna M. from Austin, Texas has found patients are often reluctant to discuss their cost concerns. “Some patients are afraid to tell you money is an issue for them and just mentioning CareCredit can be the difference between them scheduling the treatment or not.”        

     

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