How are you handling and overcoming patient objections about cost and payment? Whether it’s the prescription, polarized sunglasses you know they need, or sight-saving intravitreal injections, you can’t afford for patients to avoid treatment due to financial barriers.
Your patients’ health—and your practice’s profitability—depend on how well you navigate those tricky topics. Not sure exactly what to say or do? Use these tips on handling cost-related patient objections that Ed Syring, III of Yellow Telescope and his colleague, Jill Peeling, presented to attendees during their session at the 2017 ASCRS·ASOA Annual Symposium and Congress:
- When patients bring up an objection, i.e. “I can’t afford LASIK right now,” agree with them.
This particular patient objection is just a manifestation of their fear coming to the surface. Try saying, “Absolutely, I totally understand. I want to make sure that you’re comfortable with procedure financially as well. Otherwise I wouldn’t want you to have it done either.”
After agreeing with patients that their objection is valid, help them see that their financial barriers are flexible. “Let’s talk about that.”
- Propose a solution.
This may look like offering them a deposit that is refundable until two weeks prior to the procedure, or helping them understand that getting a procedure like LASIK can improve their productivity at work, or give them financial freedom from having to purchase and care for contact lenses, glasses, etc.
- AFTO—Ask for the order.
This is the step in which you ask patients to move forward with the procedure. Try saying, “Should we go ahead and get you signed up/scheduled?” or, “Should we at least go ahead and reserve the date?”
- Make it easy to say ‘yes.’
When a patient tells you, “This is a lot of information to process. I need to go home and think about it before giving you an answer,” respond with, “Absolutely, I hear you. How about we at least reserve the date so that you have your spot reserved? Dr. Smith will give you the best possible chance of having a successful surgery without complications, so you’re in good hands. And if you need to cancel, you can just give us a call and we’ll refund your deposit up to two weeks prior to the procedure.”
- Get them to tell you their concerns up front.
Remember, patients probably won’t come back any further enlightened after they’ve “thought about it.” If you can tease out patient objections right away, then you can give them all of the information they need to make a good decision for themselves. “You’re doing your patients a disservice to go back outside and make a decision by themselves without your help,” says Syring.
- Build a better rapport with your patients.
If you feel pushy during a conversation with a patient, that’s a sign that you need to improve your patient’s relationship with your staff and practice. During initial sales calls and patient consultation(s), spend a few more minutes asking about their day and discussing what you have in common.
- Be specific.
If patients say they need to check their work schedule before booking their procedure, respond with, “When do you think you’ll be able to check your work schedule? If I haven’t heard from you, I’ll touch base with you the next day.”
- Separate wants from needs.
If a cataract patient says, “I wouldn’t be able to imagine myself without glasses/I’m worried about changing my whole look,” respond with, “I totally understand. With that said, there’s a difference between wanting to wear glasses and needing to wear them. Have you ever misplaced your glasses? It’s pretty frustrating. I recommend that you go ahead and get the premium lens done so that you have a little more freedom, plus improved vision and decreased reliability.”
- Let it go, let it go.
In the event that a patient truly cannot afford a procedure or if he/she is being very resistant, say, “Should we just decide if this isn’t the right time?” When you let patients go, sometimes that helps them release any fear so that they come back to you.
- Push the positives.
New physicians who haven’t been practicing for very long can still sell their services well. Instead of discussing your years of experience, discuss instead your training, the positive outcomes that your patients have experienced already. You can even share your community involvement.