easy to understand
I recently presented a treatment plan totaling $10,500.00 to a forty-year-old female patient. Dr. Goodfellow had come highly recommended to her and she was here to have a full comprehensive exam and consultation. Upon hearing her options delivered in
language, she turned to me and said, “I have to do this, let's get started.”
She was prepared to pay and was motivated by a desire to take action. The personal referral paved the way to trust Dr. Goodfellow and she felt his treatment would solve her dental problems. Sometimes a patient is reluctant to proceed with necessary dental treatment because they don't believe that they are the kind of person who would benefit from investing time and money in dental health. If a friend has given a positive testimonial, this often allows the patient to believe and say, “I too have the ability to achieve excellent dental health.” How often have you heard, “My Mom has dentures, I guess I will too someday.” Or “I have soft teeth like my Dad, so I expect to have bad teeth.”
If you can deliver patients from these beliefs you can open the door for them to realize that they can be effective in turning their own health around. To do this, the dental team must be vigilant in its care and education of patients. Patients who are ready to take action and change the course of their health have certain characteristics:
- They have come to have a clear understanding of the serious nature of their dental condition
- They fully understand the steps necessary to get them the results they are seeking
- They trust in the doctor and the team
- They believe that they are capable of accepting the treatment and in getting good results
As a team we have to voice our confidence in the patients' decision to move forward. Keeping the patient involved in the process by telling them what is happening and what they can anticipate keeps the trust building.
To keep the patient on a positive track to success, the dental team must avoid behaviors that would cause a patient to “give up” and avoid treatment. Never blame a patient for the disastrous state of their mouth. Watch your body language. Rolling your eyes or shaking your head only makes the patient want to avoid you. Avoiding eye contact and not listening devalue the patient and may cause the patient to avoid the office altogether. Taking the stance that you are morally superior to the patient because you would never have allowed your mouth to get to such a condition should always be avoided. Putting pressure on the patient to make a decision and using “scare tactics” such as saying, “Your teeth are going to fall out of your mouth if you don't do what I say”, is a negative and does not build trust.
Achieving consistent treatment plan acceptance
is a challenge because there are so many factors involved in patient's decision-making process. One thing is for certain, if the patient does not trust the doctor and team, then you will never hear “Let's get started!”
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