4.27.12 Issue #529 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Empower Your Assistants and Business Team to Support Treatment Recommendations!
By Nancy Caudill

How can your team assist in promoting treatment in your practice? Many dentists feel like they are carrying the entire responsibility when it comes to promoting the practice and promoting recommended treatment. The process begins with education.

1. Ask each one of your team members (clinical and business) to explain on a “3rd grade level” why an implant would be recommended to a patient with a missing tooth.

2. Ask them to explain why a patient needs scaling and root planing and the benefits to the patient.

3. Ask them to express why a crown would be a better option for the patient opposed to a 5-surface filling.

Each of your employees should be able to answer these questions following your guidelines and they should all be answered the same. If this is not occurring, start by training your team on how to explain the most common treatment recommendations that you make in your practice.

Think about this - your Schedule Coordinator should be calling patients with unscheduled treatment. It is important for her/him to review the clinical notes and explain to the patient why the treatment was recommended and the consequences should the patient postpone or decline the treatment. Can your Schedule Coordinator do this? If not, they need to be educated about the various types of treatment you perform.

Mrs. Jones is dismissed to the Schedule Coordinator to make her next appointment for a bridge to replace a missing tooth. She asks Julie, the Schedule Coordinator, why a bridge would be better than a partial. Can your Julie answer this question?

Your assistant, Susan, is asked by Mr. Brown why he needs the crown that you have recommended and can a filling do just as well. Can your Susan answer this question?

You can easily see with these scenarios the importance of your entire team being able to answer all these questions with knowledge and confidence. 

What if the patient asks a question that the team member can’t answer? After all, they may not know everything about the treatment recommendations. You should have a protocol in place so all the team members can respond. Your business team member responds with:  “Mrs. Jones, that is a very good question and one that I do not have an answer for. May I ask the doctor’s assistant to give you a call to address your question?  What is the best telephone number for her/him to call you on?”

If the question is pertinent to the patient scheduling their next appointment, an answer may be needed immediately.  “Mrs. Jones, that is a very good question and one that I do not have an answer for. May I ask the doctor’s assistant to speak with you about this?”

Tools for Illustration
Mrs. Jones is in your chair and you have just recommended a porcelain crown on Tooth #3 because of recurrent decay under a large MODL amalgam. She looks at you and smiles - you tell her good-bye and you are gone. Mrs. Jones looks at your assistant and asks why she needs this crown.

First, let’s assume that your assistant has been educated by you and knows the scripting for this question. In addition, she also knows that Mrs. Jones has never had a crown before AND that crowns cost $1300. She also knows that it is her job to help Mrs. Jones to understand not only why she needs the crown, but also the “value and benefit” of a crown.

This is when “show and tell” is important. A nice typodont (GO HERE) that clearly illustrates how a crown is fabricated, how strong porcelain is or whatever material you are recommending, how the crown is custom-made to fit just this tooth and look just like the original tooth but without the old silver filling and the large cavity, how long it will last, etc. Mrs. Jones must be able to look at this typodont and “feel” the investment that she wants to make is a good decision. Patients buy what they “want” and not always what they “need” - unless they are in pain, and even then, often they purchase what they can perceivably afford.

Allow Mrs. Jones to hold the crown in her hand. Become familiar with it. The goal is for Mrs. Jones to say “yes” to the Schedule Coordinator, feel good about her decision, and keep her appointment!

Granted, some patients don't want to know - they just want to know how much it costs, how long it will last, how long will I be here and will it hurt!  This is also true for intraoral photos - some patients prefer NOT to see their dental problem.

The Doctor's Role
In an ideal scenario, you are always the best person to educate your patients about their treatment needs. They trust you and want to hear the news from you. You have a relationship with your patients. But some dentists simply don't have the time or don't want to take the time to educate their patients past the recommendation. This is where it is essential that the assistant is capable of taking over.

“Mrs. Jones, this large cavity needs to be taken care of as soon as possible so you don’t develop an infection and need a root canal. Julie will be more than happy to answer all your questions about the treatment and I will look forward to seeing you in the next couple of weeks. How does that sound?”

Now - go educate your team so they can help you promote your treatment recommendations!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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