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Communicate with care: How to lead effective and inclusive cost conversations

cost conversations

When it comes to patients achieving their dental health goals, it’s beneficial for them to get a full and clear picture up front. As their provider, you’re the catalyst to putting all of the pieces of that puzzle together. That’s why it’s very important for you to lead productive cost conversations—at all points of care—to help keep your patients engaged and well informed about treatments and payment options.

Especially during times of economic uncertainty, having this level of clarity can make quite the difference. Not only will your patients benefit and gain peace of mind, but your practice workflow can improve too.

Making their smile mean more

A great way to start the conversation is to show your patient that you are focused on their specific needs. Before you jump into discussing costs, take the time to ask questions first so you can fully understand their priorities. Then you can take the next step and go over treatment plans that will help address their specific situation.

When going over recommendations with patients, always highlight the overall benefit that the care or treatment plan can make in their life in the long run. Explain that filling in a cavity can mean more than just stopping pain, it’s a way to help them shine with a confident smile, prevent larger issues and improve their health. Using examples like this to emphasize the benefits of dental treatments can help patients value their care as well as their provider relationship.

Putting patients in control of costs

Similar to how individuals approach making large retail purchase decisions, they want this same level of insight into the cost estimates for their dental care so that they can feel prepared and confident moving forward. There are plenty of great opportunities at all points of care for you to discuss care costs and available payment options—starting with the initial phone call.

Before the appointment: When new and existing patients call to schedule a consultation or appointment, you can help meet their expectations right away by informing them about all the associated costs. Knowing what to expect so early in the process can help them feel more comfortable and ready to come to your door.

During the visit: When patients arrive at your practice, reassure them that you’re committed to providing the care they want and need without delay. Remove any element of surprise and go through all the costs involved in the treatment plan. This is also a great time during the conversation to break down costs and present the available flexible payment options. If your location offers patient financing, consider starting the conversation with:

“Our goal is to help you get the dental treatment that is best for you. Would it help if you could make monthly payments over time, rather than paying the full amount today?”

Providing patients this opportunity to choose how they pay can help personalize and improve their experience, while helping them manage costs.

Did you know? Open Dental software has functionality that integrates with CareCredit financing features for providers who accept CareCredit. This means that the Batch Quickscreen feature can be used to easily identify which patients are pre-approved or already have a CareCredit credit card. Having this information ahead of time not only makes the process quicker, but it can help make it easier to naturally and confidently bring up financing with the CareCredit credit card.

After an initial consultation or appointment, let patients know that you’re happy to provide billing information and answer any questions they may have about ways to make payments.

Here are some conversation points to consider:

“Would you like to see the monthly payment options that are available through our financing partner? If you would like to move forward with your recommended treatment, I can set special time aside on X or X. Would that work for you?”

“If you would like to use promotional financing to move forward with your treatment immediately, we can help you estimate your monthly payments upfront.”

If your patients do express an interest in exploring payment options, start the process by asking if they would like to see if they prequalify for credit.

Be sure to clearly explain how financing can help fit care into their budgets by helping them estimate monthly costs upfront. Use the online calculator at, or refer them to the financing brochure so they can see how financing with the CareCredit credit card can be used to pay over time for their treatments.

Using these best practices to incorporate payment options throughout the care journey provides valuable guidance and helps improve the overall experience—for your practice and your patients. It’s never fun to receive a surprise bill or feel unprepared to provide payment. However, with a full understanding of financial obligations and payment options, patients can feel more empowered to accept your recommended treatment right away. Plus, this could also speed up your cash flow, meaning less time collecting payments and more time focused on delivering the best possible care.

Moving forward with solutions

After you have presented all of the treatment information and payment options, create a finalized treatment plan and schedule appointments as soon as possible. In the case that your patient asks for more time to consider the proposed treatment plan, make sure to continue providing clear communication and have your front office team follow up with friendly reminders and any suitable educational materials. Getting your patients in for treatments in a timely manner is most beneficial because it can help prevent any additional or costly issues down the road. Plus, it can help keep them focused on their dental health and getting the treatment they want and need, even while navigating a changing economy.

Remember, achieving health goals is all about seeing the big picture—understanding the purpose and knowing what’s involved. The cost conversations you lead are a key piece to that puzzle. So, make sure to show empathy, provide clarity and keep your patients involved throughout their entire dental care journey.

CareCredit patient financing features are integrated in Open Dental Software for simplified payment and application processing. To learn more, visit

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