Asking Questions to Differentiate Case Acceptance



Uber relieved pain from the typical cab experience. No waving your arms at passing drivers. Comfortable cars and communicative drivers, and most important - pre-arranged payments and fares. Ebay created an online auction model that allowed us to buy and sell things in a safe, but somewhat anonymous network. How can we differentiate the education and consultation that leads to case acceptance, so we can enjoy some of that success? Simple. Innovate and differentiate your new patient experience. Different can be good or bad, so let’s focus on ways that improve the chance of a patient saying YES!

ASK more when teaching patients about their health and disease, and tell less. A.S.K could be an acronym for Always, Share Knowledge, but do so by ASKING, not TELLING. “How can we help?” This simple but favorite phrase starts 95% of my conversations with a patient. It let’s the patient take control and begin to tell you what they want or why they are here. They may bring up something that gives us insight and helps guide us towards, or away, from sensitive topics.  Answers like, “My wife made me come, she wants me to get my teeth fixed,” helps me position the conversation in the context of what did the spouse want fixed and why? How can I satisfy that need as part of the overall plan and not just do a routine examination? 

Asking questions about what the patient sees or thinks about the intraoral camera display on the screen, creates better ownership of the problem. “Telling” rhymes with “selling,” and patients seem more cynical than ever today. When they own the situation and ask what the options are to fix it, they are much more receptive to our plan. Their curiosity is fueled when we ask about that gum or broken filling and how they feel about it. Co-discovery was powerful for us kids, and that energy continues as adults.

If we ASK more and TELL less, will everyone say YES? No, of course not. We only need a few more people to be engaged by this differentiating style of examination. If one more patient said yes per week to one more crown - we would help more patients have healthier mouths, do more of the dentistry that fulfills us, and generate an additional $60,000-$75,000 in production. With our current schedule capacity and fixed overhead already paid, the variable expense (lab and dental supplies) could not exceed 18%. That would make this some of the most rewarding (financially and emotionally) dentistry we do.


Mark T. Murphy, DDS, FAGD Mark is the Principal of and Lead Faculty for Clinical Education at MicroDental Laboratories and ProSomnus Sleep Technologies. He also serves on the Adjunct Faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy and oversees the Practice and Financial Management Curriculum at the Pankey Institute. He lectures internationally on Leadership, Practice Management, Communication, Case Acceptance, Planning, Occlusion, TMD and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Mark has been involved in Sleep Dentistry for over 25 years, is an AADSM member, and has trained with several of the leading sleep dentists and training institutes. He is an informative and entertaining speaker, blending a stand-up style of humor and anecdotes with current evidence based research that you can take home and use in your practice right away.