4.22.11 Issue #476 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 

Treatment Presentations: Moving Past the Introduction
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Dentists like to believe that they are the ones presenting treatment to their patients. But in reality, most are merely introducing patients to the concept of recommended treatment. The patient is listening intently to the doctor, and s/he believes the patient comprehends what is being proposed. But in the majority of cases, once treatment recommendations move beyond the “you have a cavity that needs to be filled” stage, patients have a host of questions that the doctor typically never hears. We see this occur in practice after practice, and it is a disconnect that is detrimental to treatment acceptance across the board.

If the dentist wants to move beyond introducing treatment to the patient into true treatment presentation, to do so effectively is going to require far more of the doctor’s time than s/he realizes. It is for that reason that we recommend practices make the most of a trained treatment coordinator. Why? Because the doctor’s time is much better spent diagnosing and delivering treatment, as opposed to talking about it.
 
As Belle DuCharme explains in the McKenzie Management Educational DVD Treatment Acceptance Tactics, professionally trained treatment coordinators or counselors, as some practices refer to them, are expected to achieve an 85% rate of treatment acceptance. This person ensures that there is consistency in the message that is delivered to patients about various procedures. They are responsible for answering the many questions that patients have but often don’t want to bother the doctor with, such as: “Why does the doctor think it needs to be done now? How much is the treatment going to cost me? Can I make payments? How many appointments am I going to need? Is the procedure going to be painful? What happens if I just wait a while?” And the list goes on.

What’s more, the treatment coordinator is on perpetual patient watch, meaning no one falls through the scheduling cracks. The doctor has recommended treatment; the treatment coordinator has further explained and answered the patient’s many questions. Next, the treatment coordinator makes sure the patient is scheduled. If the patient doesn’t schedule that day, it is the treatment coordinator who follows up. At no time is the patient left to figure it out on their own. In fact, the treatment coordinator is in many respects the patient advocate. They break down the barriers that prevent patients from pursuing recommended care. They offer reassurance and unlimited assistance to the patient in helping them fully understand the treatment, the need for it, and the benefits of pursuing it.

As practices are doing more phased treatments, this requires more patient monitoring than in the past. This too is the treatment coordinator’s responsibility. This person oversees the patient’s progress throughout the course of treatment. Additionally, the treatment coordinator monitors production, keeping close watch on key practice statistics, practice goals, and specific treatment measurements. The treatment coordinator keeps the doctor informed, on a regular basis, of how the practice is doing in meeting its production objectives. Moreover, this person is tracking trends in the office. If patients are not pursuing a particular course of treatment, the coordinator is responsible for learning why, thereby enabling the practice to make necessary adjustments in the presentation process.

In addition, the individual is continually learning about procedures and new techniques that the practice uses in treating patients so they can continuously improve the treatment presentation process. Each time a new type of product or service is introduced in the practice, the treatment coordinator sits down with the doctor, who explains what is being done and how it benefits the patients. The two identify what specific aspects of this treatment will be most important to the patients and how that should be communicated during the treatment introduction and presentation.

But effective treatment presentation doesn’t stop with the treatment coordinator. While one person is primarily responsible, others in the practice are trained so that if the coordinator is out of the office, the process doesn’t come to a halt. This requires the development of a procedures manual that covers each procedure performed, the process, the fees, and the script for expertly discussing various treatments with patients to ensure that this knowledge is shared among the team.

The dental office thrives or struggles based on treatment acceptance. It can be argued that this is the most critical system in the practice. Take steps to ensure that you and your team are thoroughly presenting treatment to the patient, not just introducing it.  

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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