A few months ago one of the network news organizations reported that a state department of natural resources spent $100,000 of taxpayer money to study landfill waste. After an exhaustive look at garbage from 14 sites in this state, the conclusion? People need to recycle more. Well, now there’s a revelation. Pretty obvious conclusion it would seem.
When faced with a dilemma we often agonize over how to solve the problem. We analyze and we study and we fret. We spend hours and hours and, in some cases, thousands of dollars, only to eventually discover that the best solution is often the one that should have been the most obvious.
Dental teams frequently face the same challenge. For example, production is lagging, doctors feel like they are working and working and working but just not getting ahead. They want to perform more comprehensive dentistry. They want patients who are open to their recommendations. They want new patients, better patients. They search for that single formula that is going to bring the very best patients into their practices, the ones who will pine for their services and clamor for any appointment – not just those after 4 p.m. They believe they have to go out and find, and recruit, and somehow coax this very special patient breed to come to their practice. Maybe that expensive new equipment will bring in the perfect patient, maybe a pricey marketing campaign, maybe this, maybe that. They commonly overlook what is right there in front of them. They seldom consider the obvious ...
What’s in the patient records? It is here that you are most likely to find your perfect patients. They are the ones who trust you and already believe in what you can do. In those records, you’ve documented countless recommendations for treatment over the last several months. Although dentists and their teams look at patient records every day, few notice the obvious: tens of thousands of dollars in unscheduled treatment that is wasting away unnoticed, and, worse yet, unpaid for!
We see it repeatedly, case after case recommended to patients but never pursued, a mere note in the record because the office doesn’t have a treatment presentation procedure. The dollar figures are huge. In one dental practice alone, nearly $400,000 in unscheduled treatment was sitting in the patient charts because there was no standard protocol for follow-up. If you are not impressing upon your patients regularly, the importance of pursuing the care you’ve recommended, they will not see the value in receiving that care. It’s as simple as that.
I recommend you implement a protocol for treatment presentation. First, assign a member of the team to serve as Treatment Coordinator. And while you’re at it, train another staff member so they can step in when necessary. A Treatment Coordinator is a liaison with the patient who is both a “treatment advocate” and a “patient advocate.” But this isn’t a job that just anyone in the office can do. The Treatment Coordinator should be able to connect easily with patients. She/he should have a clear understanding of dentistry and dental procedures. The coordinator should have complete confidence in the doctor and his/her clinical abilities, and should be the doctor’s loudest cheerleader. This person must be well organized. She/he must be assertive without being pushy, and she/he must be comfortable discussing those difficult issues – such as finances, fears, etc. – with patients.
When you’ve chosen the right person for this essential responsibility, ensure their success by providing professional training. You should be able to count on your well-trained Treatment Coordinator to skillfully handle each patient and expertly address any general reticence that may impede treatment acceptance.
Next week, developing your plan to get treatment out of the patient records and into the schedule.
Forward this article to a friend.