You have a patient in your chair or you are at the morning meeting before your day even begins, and you notice that Mr. Jones has treatment pending. Do you just note it and move on? Do you actually look at what the treatment is and evaluate what should be done next? Do you know the financial policy in your office or is that the job of the front desk? Do you know how to maximize the patient’s benefits that are supplied by their employer?
In order to talk logically to your patient about having their treatment completed and not about your weekend, you should be aware of and understand all of the above. It is not only the job of the front desk to be able to answer simple routine questions but yours as well. However when treatment does get more involved, a financial person may come into your operatory and answer the questions for both of you. This way you are learning too, not just the patient.
Well, for Mr. Jone’s sake, I hope you are looking at the treatment that needs to be done and why he needs it done and also asking the doctor to prioritize the treatment. Being aware of the patient’s benefits and how they can be maximized will help in convincing the patient to move forward with treatment. With Mr. Jones in your chair, educate him on why he should want to have the treatment done, how it will feel while he is having it done, and how the front office can work out financial arrangements with the use of the many options that Care Credit has to offer your office and the patient. Remember the three main reasons people do not have treatment done in dentistry is fear, money, and perception of need. If you can eliminate these three reasons you are more likely to have the treatment plan accepted and completed by the patient.
Even when it comes to talking to the patient about future treatment, or the possibility that they may need more root planing if the over all health of their mouth does not improve, you need to be comfortable, believe in the service you are providing, and confident in the words you use to explain to the patient why they need the treatment. One way to get this confidence and belief is to talk to your fellow team members about how they are discussing treatment pending. No, everybody in the office does not need to say it the same way, but everybody on the team does need to convey the same message and have the same belief system when it comes to the quality of care being provided.
Many times promoting the treatment plan starts before the doctor has even diagnosed it. The seed needs to be planted in the patient’s mind. This same seed may be the motivator to get them doing the home care they need. For instance, “Mr. Jones, I am seeing a lot more infection than we feel is healthy at this time. In order to have your mouth become more healthy we may need to do root planing. I am going to go ahead and do a cleaning today and we will have you back in to be evaluated in a couple of weeks. If the infection is still present, the doctor will diagnose you to have root planing done in the areas that are infected. We believe that aggressive non-surgical intervention can produce a healthy mouth. As you may know, periodontal disease cannot be cured, but we can slow down the progression of the disease. However, you also need to do your part at home and by getting the care needed.”
The same goes when you see large fillings that will need crowns in the near future. Plant the seed so when it comes to diagnosing that they need a crown on #14 they will remember, Oh yes, you told me that would need to be done. Well, it lasted a couple of years. You can even refer back to your notes and tell the patient, “Mr. Jones, remember back in 2003 when we told you that large filling may not last much longer. Well, the time has come to replace it and we will need to put a crown on that tooth. I see you have insurance. That is a nice benefit your employer has provided. Just so you know we also offer Care Credit if you would like some financial assistance. If you want to bring some of your favorite music to listen to while we do it that would be great. It is a very easy procedure. We look forward to seeing you.”
The more knowledge you have about a person, their benefits, your own beliefs, and the need for treatment, the easier it will be for you to discuss and promote the treatment plans the doctor has diagnosed. Educating your patient on the need for treatment is synonymous with selling dentistry.
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