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.