Approach Money and Payment issues with clarity

How many times do you think about a price quote but what comes out of your mouth is lower? Happens to all dentists.

That is why you should practice the capacity of talking about money easily.

Money should not be overemphasized. It´s what happens, for example, when dentists assume a patient can or cannot afford a specific treatment. This lets the money be limiting your possibility of even mentioning the best care to the patient.

But money should also not be a mere detail, to a point where you book comprehensive examinations or start talking about the plan for 10 minutes without the patient having any idea about potential financial efforts. 

Money IS important and should be approached straightforwardly without ANY hesitation.


Should you present comprehensive treatment to all patients of filter those who are not financially ready?

You should definitely filter. I have a system in place where everyone in my practice can give approximate quotes for most common treatments in initial examinations (and we rehearse common scenarios on our meetings). And we ALWAYS inform about the ideal treatment and approximate costs (no pressure remember!). If a patient is interested we will do a comprehensive presentation in another appointment but the patient is already aware of the dimension of financial effort. This way I don’t loose my time or the patient time. But we do DARE to present ideal and talk about money without any problem.

Should I even talk about money with patients?

Some defend the doctor should avoid talking about anything other than the clinical issues with the patient. So, according to this opinion, the doctor should not be talking about money with patients. I have no definitive position on this but I prefer to talk about money myself. Then assistants or patient coordinators take care of payment options. In the end of the day the doctor will probably needs to feel comfortable about it. However, I admit having someone to talk about finance after my presentation can be much less stressful for some dentists. Depends on social and cultural factors, the country you work and on the usual procedures in your dental community. Having software clients from different countries has taught me how distinct the approaches to money can be in patient communication.

One thing I know: whoever talks about money with your patients, they should do it in a very relaxed and straightforward manner.

Should I talk about money in the beginning or in the end of the presentation?

I like to talk about it early in the treatment presentation to avoid having the patient curious looking at me as I present the clinical approach. Many times patients are just there uncomfortable, listening without focus, waitting for me to go straight to the financial issues before exploring further details. By presenting costs earlier I can then focus my energy on presenting the treatment details. If I feel the patient gets too uncomfortable with the presented expenditure (which rarely happens since we filtered patients by giving an approximate quote in the initial examination), I always remind them “This is for your information only. That’s my only goal, to have you completely informed”.

Nevertheless, some patients are really more concerned about the treatment itself than the costs. However, these are a minority. Having contacted with some of the very successful world renown dentists, I can assure you the vast majority patients, even the most financially comfortable, want money to be laid out clearly. And if you think about it, no reasonable person should be offended if financial issues are brought up in the first stages of treatment presentation.

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