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:
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.
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