Down From ‘No Way’ to ‘I Want it Today’
Many patients are ill informed about
comprehensive dentistry. They require an investment of time and
education before they understand the treatment and are ready to
make both the emotional investment and the financial commitment.
Securing treatment acceptance for major and even minor cases
requires three key elements – communicating clearly and listening
carefully, involving the patient, and addressing their issues.
Here are 10 strategies you can implement today to increase your
patients in conversation about their oral health goals.
This is going to give you invaluable insight into the patient’s
perceptions, fears, expectations, concerns, and, most importantly,
potential objections to treatment.
several broad questions and listen to what your patient is and
is not telling you. For example, “How do you
feel about your smile?” “How well can you chew with
your partial?” “How would you feel if you had all
of your teeth?” “How would you like to enjoy a wonderful
meal without having to pass on some of your favorite foods or
having to worry about pain when you chew?”
the open questions to get to the heart of what is going to motivate
your patient to pursue treatment.
the patient to do most of the talking.
Have it, They Want it – The information you gather
tells you and your treatment coordinator what is going to motivate
that patient emotionally. The patient will not proceed with treatment
if they do not have an emotional attachment to the benefits. As
the exam is the basis for the clinical diagnosis, the question/answer
period is the basis for the “emotional assessment,”
which is what drives the patient to want the best dentistry you
have to offer.
You Understand it, They Don’t – Remember
your audience. The more technical and clinical the presentation
the more likely the patient is going to feel lost and uncertain
Present the case in terms the patient can understand.
clinical references or prematurely using materials that may
graphically demonstrate the procedure before the patient is
testimonials from other patients who sing your praises
and encourage prospective patients to talk to them about the
procedure. Nothing will have more impact than the endorsement
of another successful patient.
and involve the entire team in reinforcing the treatment plan
with the patient – from the chairside assistant to the
They Want it, But ...
objections and encourage them. “Do you have any
fears or concerns about the treatment?”
the natural tendency to react defensively or feel frustrated.
Objections are another means for the patient to gather information
and are essential in enabling them to feel confident in their
decision to pursue the recommended treatment.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
VP Professional Relations
Professional Communications via email
Last week I discussed professional communications in general using
your computer system [see
article]. The following is a reader’s request for more
detail from last week’s article.
I would be interested in understanding the opportunities available
to me as a periodontist relating to Email communication strategies
and how they could be implemented.
Dr. Inquisitive (periodontist)
and general dentists alike have yet to truly leverage electronic
communication. For the sake of this article, I am going
to lump web sites, web site hosting, attachments, and individual
emails into your question. The concept is centered around creating
an electronic patient co-management community. Your electronic community
will cement your referral relationship. Sharing patient information
will become faster, cheaper, safer, and easier (key) for everyone
What should specialists consider?
bandwidth (cable, DSL, or dialup) and email boxes for the general
dentists AND their business administrators! Have your
office web site marked in their “favorites” folder
of the web browser! Have a form ready for them to fill out when
they refer a patient to your office or, create an automatic
referral email that is easily created from their end. The keys
are “fast” and “simple”.
Provide your business administrator with an email box
at work. The relationship between your business administrator
and the business administrators at your referring dentists are
key (mostly under exploited) relationships to building your
referral base. Your business administrator should be able to
email requested documents, charts, insurance info, x-rays, digital
images, upon request of your referring doctors’ team.
individual paper patient reports are nice but look at the overhead
on their end. Paper reports take time. Mailing
them takes more time. Receiving them, opening them, pulling
the chart or placing them on the general dentist’s desk
takes even more time. The general dentist needs to review each
report - that takes time. What if the reports were sent right
after the patient was seen? What if perio charts, x-rays, or
digital photos were sent along with the report? Doesn’t
that make everything easier for your referral sources? You bet!
know of a few specialists who have established electronic case
studies and e-learning centers on their web site. The
area requires secure access to dentists only. Here,
you and your referral sources can collaborate on specific cases
if my practice management software doesn’t support emailing
clinical information? Well, your practice management
software may not but MSWindows does if you know how to do it.
For instance, bring up a full perio chart in your practice management
system. If you do not have “email” as a command
under “File”, simply press the “Prt-Sc”
key on your keyboard. Open up MSWord (new document). Right click
your mouse. Select the “paste” option. You should
have a resizable picture of your chart in the document now.
Go to the top of MSWord and select “File”, “Save
As”, and name the document. It’s always good to
name your documents in the following format (ptlastname _ ptfirstname
_ typeofdocument _ date). Smith_Bob_FMChart_7-13-2003 would
be an example naming convention.
you do any of this, talk to your referring dentists.
The next time you take them out for lunch, tell them what you
are thinking of doing and see if they get excited about it.
Remember to tell them that it will make their life and their
business administrator’s life a lot simpler. Tell them
it will allow both of you to communicate instantly. Also tell
them, it will allow them to review your reports from their computer
rather than when they clean up the piles on their desk (usually
once a week).
- How about
an email list of all of the patients you referred back to the
general practice for routine maintenance? If your practice
management software has a recall list and you can separate it
by referring doctor – you have what you need. This will
reinforce your instructions to the patients and erode any fear
that you are “stealing” maintenance patients.
are your best referring dentists are within a 20 mile radius of
your office. Chances are your cable TV company would be
delighted to install cable modems and internet access at a reduced
rate if you are picking up the tab for eight or ten of your best
referring practices. If cable access isn’t available
or less than affordable, local dialup access has to be. Once your
local dental community is established, your specialty office will
be THE referral of choice. You can use technology to eliminate 90%
of the headache and overhead of referring out.
Thank you very much for your questions, please keep them coming.
you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
The Cold Shoulder
Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To
column is a continuation of the saga of Dr. Desperate and his older
brother which began two weeks ago. It is essential that you pay
to the universal truths that govern their predicament
several weeks ago, I answered a question sent in by Dr. Desperate
who was a victim to the female forces of his office. He was defending
one female staff member who had a questionable reputation from the
other female team members who wanted her to leave the team.
answered his question in this newsletter [see
article]. I then received an email from his older brother who
found my answer courageous but expressed his paralysis due to the
fear of implementing the suggestions based upon his past experience.
column introduces additional universal truths about human nature
from which a reasonable solution can be found.
As a coach, I do not judge the people; I only judge the situation.
I accept the right for the women in the office to determine what
they consider morally appropriate and acceptable behavior. In addition,
I respect the employer's right to value technical proficiency over
Truth #4 The universal priority to survive applies to the
group (women) first and the individual (doctor) second.
The doctor will lose this battle eventually, because the moral high
ground has greater appeal to the brain. The women will feel naturally
and universally empowered to strengthen their social, political,
and economic alliance in their practice and with other practices
when they discuss their situation, which they are certain to do.
Tension will continue
in this office until the employer and the employees discuss the
same problem: is a woman who uses illicit means to get what she
wants acceptable to this team.
#5 Every day that we go to work, we bring the tools and weapons
that we developed in childhood with us. The women in this
story are doing what women do all over the world. They are talking
and comparing facts and fictions in order to feel less vulnerable.
This is reasonable behavior and is universal. Dr. Desperate has
chosen to ignore the women’s need for safety and social accountability
in the name of his own perhaps unconscious desires. The women will
not permit him this latitude, nor would any group of women permit
a masculine employer such latitude, except of course if he was the
President of the United States. If
technical proficiency and personal preferences of the employer are
to dominate, then the women will be understandably resentful and
will continue to bite at the ankles of the teacher's pet and her
#6, Individual morality is derived from our community morality.
You can deny your own truth, but not that of the group you belong
to. The doctor is free to deny his own true feelings or
insist on having his way; however, if moral character were to be
the agreed upon standard of behavior, then perhaps a woman of similar
background and values would be more the appropriate solution for
Truth #7 Defending the honor of someone whose morality is
in question and will not defend themselves cannot succeed.
It is reasonable to expect the woman who was accused of sexual impropriety
to live with the truth of her reputation or she should defend her
dignity from false accusations by the other women. It is the lack
of initiative to defend herself that permits Dr. Desperate to rise
to the occasion and defend her honor. And
in so doing, Dr. Desperate has created this problem, because he
does not see the issue. He makes the issue a question of proficiency,
because that is how he measures his own self worth; however, the
person in question is a woman and a member of the staff. There are
other considerations that he does not acknowledge.
#8 Men and women do not reason the same with the same data. They
will draw identical or different conclusions because of this cognitive
fact. Dr. Desperate’s brother admitted that asking
all the questions as outlined in my first answer did not appear
to him to resolve the issue. In his mind, he visualized the discussion,
the appeal to rationality, the passive acceptance, the resentful
compliance, and then the reappearance of the problem. Dr. Desperate's
brother’s solution to everything is to appeal to the other
person’s reason and when agreement is not found, backdown.
brother has brought his childhood experience to work by envisioning
his incapacity or the ineffectiveness of his appeals to make an
impression on the female alliance. This was his experience in the
past, but there is no reason for it to be the assumption of the
do not solve their problems only with rationality. One explanation
might be that rationality can be too shortsighted. Women intuitively
understand that the greatest rationale of all still doesn't guarantee
an equitable solution. Thus, rationality often falls short. Rationality
provides a direct line to relieve the individual’s tension,
and this is a typical male solution. However, this is not an individual
problem. This is a group problem, and it is a mixed gender group
problem and thus requires a solution that accounts for everyone's
need to feel heard, accepted, and appreciated. Rationality does
not accomplish these requirements.
It is Dr. Desperate's brother’s lack of experience with broader
male-female solutions that limits his rationality. He consoles himself
and his powerlessness by limiting the number of people he interacts
with. The answer to Dr. Desperate's brother’s problem is to
find new behaviors that provide outcomes that go beyond his childhood
history. This is what we do in coaching.
Want your issues answered? Ask the firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Overhead Rising and
Your Revenues Staggering?
Dental Supplies – 5%
Miscellaneous – 10%
Payroll Taxes and Benefits
3% - 5%
Facility – 5%
How To Tip The Scales Back In Your Favor?
You Looking For More New Patients?
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book will help you to revitalize your practice in a matter of
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I am hoping you can assist me in finding a better way of handling
our hygiene reminder postcards. Presently, postcards are addressed
and mailed out 2 to 3 weeks prior to the patient's appointment.
As you can imagine, this is very time consuming. Could you advise
me of a simpler and more efficient process. We will have our patients
address their own cards and then file them. Now, however, the next
problem is 'how do we organize and file these cards', i.e., alphabetically
or chronologically. I would appreciate any suggestions or guidelines
you could share. Thank you in advance for your help.
Have the patient address the card to themselves. This should be
asked of by the hygienist and at that time she is explaining the
"system" to the patient, i.e., what the card is for, when
they are going to get it and what you want them to do when they
get it. The cards are filed by the month they are due to return,
chronologically. Don't forget when they are mailed to match them
with the print out of patients due for the month from the computer.
This just happened to me as a patient. My dentist forgot to remind
me because they didn't have me fill out a card at my last appointment
but if they would have verified it with the computer I would have
been caught. Remember "taking too much time" doesn't exist
with recall. It is the backbone of the practice.
Missed Past Issues of Our e-Motivator Newsletter?
we can come back to the center and visit soon! I also wanted to
brag on our office! Yesterday, my
hygiene department produced $2,025 in one day! We
were so excited! Just thought I would let you know and thank you
for all your advice! Our hygiene department rocks!!*
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