Something that comes up all the time when I'm talking to dentists is, "How do I get my staff to talk to patients about treatment and perhaps even talking to patients about money?" And what I would say to these dentists is number one, you've got to get comfortable doing it yourself so that your staff can role-model the behavior that you want them to emulate. But I will give you a couple of quick tips.
So let's talk a little bit about treatment options and ways that you can communicate with your patients, when they show up at your office with signs of instability, tooth wear, mobility, migration, TMJ dysfunction, muscle pain, and soreness.
It's important to organize your thoughts and communications in ways that your patients can very simply understand what you're trying to relate to them.
Getting patients to own their own problems can be very challenging.
I find that in my office what has worked best for me is showing them photographs.
When I show photographs of the patient, I let them ingest what they are seeing on a photograph for maybe a few seconds before I start talking about what I am seeing. And sometimes I will actually ask them what they are seeing.
One of the tips that I would recommend is changing your vocabulary when you talk to patients regarding insurance.
One of the things that we hear quite often is something like this: "This is what your insurance will cover." I would like you to change that to, "This is what your insurance provides a benefit for." So changing your attitude or mindset, especially with your team when it comes to discussing insurance, is very beneficial for to getting the insurance out of your practice.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you have to make sure to get it right when a new patient calls.
I have two general rules for talking to patients on the phone.
The first rule is be positive.
And, of course, this means answering the phone with all the proper etiquette, like having a smile on your face and using the caller's name. But I mean that you should literally be positive. There is almost always a way to give an affirmative answer to a question without compromising your policies.
As Dawson-trained dentists, one of things that is most exciting and fun for us is going over specialty treatment. Taking our patients to records and going over the checklists, the photos, and the Wizard, and figuring out a long-term treatment plan for them.
The problem is, that we experience at our office, is getting our patients to records. Some of the terms that we use are confusing and we lose them in the process.
As Dr. Dawson told us, a word such as equilibration is a word we should never use. There are a lot of ways, both Dr. Dawson and the lead faculty communicate to patients in layman's terms to help simplify the process.
By Dr. Kent Johnson in Park City, UT
By Daniel Midson-Short
Can you tell the difference between a genuine patient and one who is making excuses?
No matter how skilled or experienced you are as a dentist, it's likely that you cannot.
A dentist can bond well with a patient, develop a rapport, and they can spend a lot of time in the exam explaining the treatment that they recommend. They can even bring the patient back for an extra consultation and have a beautiful treatment plan prepared.
Despite all this, the patient may not really be interested in the treatment. But, because of everything the dentist has said and done, the patient is now too embarrassed to give an honest ‘no.'
Instead of honesty from the patient, we get polite evasion. They use a range of tactics to defer treatment indefinitely:
- "I need to think about it"
- "I need to talk with my wife"
- "I need to check finances"
Since the obstacles and excuses sound real, the biggest problem for the dentist is that there is no way to distinguish between real obstacles and polite evasion.
This puts the dentist into chase mode, trying to convince or cajole patients into treatment. The more we try to get a patient to have treatment, the better they become at avoiding us; it ends up feeling like a game of cat and mouse. The good news is the whole situation can be avoided if we start with a different approach.
By Daniel Midson-Short
As a dentist, when diagnosing problems, there is always the chance of patients reacting negatively.
Often, it is about the price of the treatment. Other times, it is because they didn’t realize what is actually happening in their mouth.
There are also larger risks: patients posting negative reviews online or seeking litigation against you for being misinformed.