What Messages Are You Really Sending?
It is Monday morning and the entire staff is prepared for the morning business meeting in the back area, away from the patients where they cannot be heard. That is, everybody except the doctor and associate. The doctor does show up in time for the meeting - however the associate is not there. What message does this send to the staff?
First, the staff may think the associate is not committed to the practice, and that the morning meeting is not really that important if people are constantly showing up late or not at all. Morning business meetings are one of the most valuable assets available to any type of medical or dental office. This is the one time when everybody has a chance to sit down and really look at who is coming in, what scheduling concerns there may be, and how to make the day run as smoothly as possible. This may even mean calling patients and altering their appointment by 10 minutes.
Let's look at another scenario. The doctor that owns the practice is on vacation, and the associate is covering for him while he is out. The associate is doing the periodic exams in the hygiene schedule and meeting a lot of the existing patients, which means the associate is having to treatment plan any needed treatment on these patients. The hygienist goes over all of the notes and information s/he can to ensure the associate is informed about the past dental history of the patients. While doing the periodic exam, the associate finds some decay. When he tells the hygienist, he does not sound confident and his mannerisms are weak. What message is this really sending to the staff and patient?
The staff may not feel confident selling the treatment needed because they are not confident in the decision that was made - due to the tone of voice or mannerisms the associate had when stating what is wrong and what is needed to fix the problem. The patient may not accept treatment if it is not presented by the associate with a voice of confidence and non-verbal actions that demonstrate knowledge and honesty.
When the doctor is presenting treatment, it is recommended that s/he state with a voice of authority what is wrong and what needs to be done. This is not the time to question your own judgment. The doctor should also make direct eye contact and inform not only the hygienist, but also the patient with determination and knowledge. If the patient immediately asks the doctor a question, s/he needs to answer the question without hesitation. This is not the time to have a pause while communicating.
Once the doctor is done, it is now up to the hygienist to get the treatment plan to the front office so they can be prepared to go over financials once the patient is ready to leave. The patient should not be escorted out of the hygiene room until s/he has asked: “What other questions can I answer for you about the treatment needed or your mouth?”
Are your patients sitting in the reception room waiting for their appointment, or sitting in an operatory waiting for treatment to begin because the provider was double booked, or too much treatment was provided without enough time? This is sending the message to your patients that you don't value their time. As a result, your patients may start running late to their appointments because they will not value your time, and some may not show at all or even worse seek treatment elsewhere.
If the provider is not allowed enough time for all of the treatment, the appointment may not be perceived at the level of care that the patient expects. The appointment may be a hygiene appointment for a prophylaxis, but now the hygienist is doing x-rays, laser treatment, Velscope and a periodic exam by the doctor, in addition to the cleaning the patient anticipated. Sadly, it is usually the cleaning that will falter, and the patient may notice this in the way their past cleanings have been done in your office, or even at their past dental office. Many patients determine if they are going to stay with an office on how well they perceive their teeth are being cleaned and maintained.
These are just a few ways you or your staff may be sending hidden messages to your patients. Challenge yourself to see what hidden messages are being sent out of your office - when you come into work, don't let yourself go on auto-pilot, and consider what you and your staff may really be communicating to your patients based on actions and non-verbal communication.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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