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2.08.08 Issue #309 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Patient Education and Treatment Acceptance

The typical patient of today is savvier than the patient of yesteryear.   These patients want to be actively involved in the process of deciding what treatment they will have performed. Information is readily available through several mediums making today’s dental consumer better educated and more critical.  Patients want the time to have their questions answered and want to know what each treatment option will do to promote their dental health.

Not only do patients want this information, but it is necessary that they have it to make an informed consent for treatment.  Without informed consent there could be trouble down the road when the patient is not happy with the treatment and claims “he/she wasn’t told of the risks in having the procedure.”

A patient education system should be an integral part of every practice.  During the patient’s visit there are numerous opportunities to impart information, either customized to that patient, as in a treatment presentation, or generalized.  Educational video, brochures, demonstration models, and flip charts are great methods of providing general information.  Intra-oral photos, diagnostic casts, radiographs and clinical charts are personal evidence of dental conditions and are hard facts. This valuable information is the basis for the treatment presentation.

Before making the presentation, it is recommended that you know the key motivating factors that caused the patient to seek dental care in your practice. This factor is sometimes called the chief concern. If the patient is one of record, returning for a recall appointment, there should be clinical notes or progress notes on file with information about the patient’s first visit.  If the patient is new to the practice, the new patient interview will reveal the motivators.

Dental Practice Report magazine measured the effectiveness of various mediums of patient education and came up with recommendations as to what concepts work the best. The following is a summary of the findings:

  • Printed materials: Prove to be effective and inexpensive. Increase perception of value because patient can take it home. This adds value to the proposed services. The computer informed (techie) patient may view it as unsophisticated. Don’t overwhelm with too much paper and make sure copies are readable and attractive. All brochures should have the practice name and phone number either printed or on a label. Great for health/function and cost driven patients.
  • Website: Practice appears up to date. Make sure it is kept current.  Educational material can be read and stored on computer.  Some patients do not like online or don’t have computers. The website should not be used as a substitute for human interaction. Techies like to be able to access office via e-mail and want the office to be able to e-mail communications about appointments, billing, etc.
  • In-Office-Video: Provides detailed information in a professional high quality manner. Techies like this medium. Low dental IQ patients may find the information too overwhelming and post viewing consultations are advised.
  • Intra-Oral Camera and Digital X-ray. When used correctly, it’s the most powerful patient education tool. Allows the patient to interact with their own teeth. Can take home copies of photos and digital radiographs. Explain in lay terms what they are looking at in relation to their mouths. Great for treatment acceptance.
  • Demonstration Models: For patients who like visual and great for being able to touch and see what the dental prosthetic looks like on the teeth. A visual can dispel a miscommunication. Techies like this if accompanied by excellent communication skills. Allows for varying course of education from simple to detailed.  Demonstrate how it may be difficult for some patients to remove a partial or denture from a model.  This is a selling point for implants.
  • Digital makeover:  Powerful concept for those patients highly influenced by the visual and the “latest and greatest” media glitz. Perceived by cost driven patients as “over the top” and not necessary. Digital, with the virtual, can over-promise what can be delivered.

The patient education system must be supported by every team member. Understanding what works best for each patient should be discussed prior to treatment presentations and consultations. The new patient interview will be explained in my next article.

McKenzie Management now offers professional training to improve Treatment Acceptance.  For more information go here or Email or call 877.777.6151

Interested in having Belle speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here

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