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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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A Case for Treatment Planning
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Training Case Files #TA397

Treatment Acceptance Training is designed to give the participant a “big picture” view of what to present and how to set the stage for improved treatment acceptance. “Molly” (fictious name), Treatment Coordinator for a two-doctor general practice, decided to take the course because her acceptance numbers were low (70%) and she wanted to know what she should do to bring the numbers up to 85%.

The practice demographics report showed a large percentage of the patients were seniors and it was assumed by the young doctors and Molly that the older patients did not want any aesthetics, just the cheapest care.

Molly reported that the doctors only presented what they diagnosed as the best course of treatment, and often didn’t suggest implants or veneers or even crowns because they felt certain the older patients would not be able to afford the expense.

Many older adults are on a fixed income, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want the cheapest care. After taking a closer look at the psychographic report of the zip codes and locations of the age groups, it was discovered that many of the senior patients came from higher income areas or areas where there were upscale shopping centers and country clubs. This does not necessarily mean they have a lot of money to spend on cosmetic dentistry, but it indicates that this group has some discretionary income and may desire a healthy, active lifestyle.

It is true that many older, retired adults who are on Medicare have to pay out-of-pocket for routine dental care – but diagnosing the pocket book is not the best way to present dental treatment to this group.

What patients want is options for their care so they can make educated decisions based on their health, lifestyle and aesthetic desires. A more personalized approach to their treatment options should be addressed, illustrating function, longevity of the treatment, oral health status and beliefs about oral health and the relationship to physical health.

Molly completed the treatment acceptance course, and she was to report back to me after she had used some of the ideas to change how she approached seniors.

For instance, the case for patient “Betty G.” Betty was 82 years old, widowed, in good health, and had been coming to the practice every six months for years for her examination and prophy. She came in for a limited oral evaluation after breaking an upper front tooth. The tooth tested vital and the best course of treatment was an all ceramic or porcelain to metal crown. She had most of her natural teeth, though they were yellowed, and her periodontal condition was healthy.

In the past she would have been presented the treatment plan for just a crown on the tooth in question, but today Molly gave her more options from the doctor and took the time to explain the pros and the cons for the treatment, including which would last the longest and what she would be able to chew. Betty did not choose the cheapest option; she chose the one that was best suited for her. She also asked about replacing a missing bicuspid, because when she smiled she could see the space in the mirror and she had recently met a nice gentleman at the social club and didn’t want him to think she was “a toothless old hag”.

Molly reported to me that it was the first time she had actually noticed who Betty was as a person, and not just an older patient in the practice. From that point on, Molly got to know her patients by considering not only the cost but the patient’s desires and beliefs, what was happening in their lives, and their past and present dental and medical histories. 

At her last report, Molly’s treatment acceptance numbers were at 80%. But even better, she felt more connected to her patients and considered herself more of a treatment counselor than coordinator – bringing more joy and purpose to her role in the practice.

To improve your skills as a Treatment Coordinator, take a step in the right direction by calling McKenzie Management today. You can also view the details of the Treatment Acceptance Training Program HERE.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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