What is YOUR Philosophy Regarding Treatment Planning?
The question presented to me was: What is the industry standard for treatment acceptance and why would it vary from practice to practice? Let’s take a look at the following scenarios:
The Age of the Practice
On the other hand, an older practice where the doctor has been very conservative with the treatment recommendations may tend to say, “Someday you will need a crown/filling”. This approach is beneficial, assuming that the doctor still owns the practice when these “acorns turn into oak trees”. However, the downfall of this approach is that when a doctor has been very conservative in his or her approach to dentistry and sells the practice, the dentist coming in reaps the benefits of all those “acorns” that were planted.
The Number of New Patients
The Philosophy of the Dentist
How Busy is the Practice?
The Dentist’s Ability to Present Treatment
1. Do nothing and wait until it breaks (could be tomorrow or years from now)
Patients will respond to these 3 scenarios differently, depending on whether they are proactive or reactive. You don’t really know what the patient is going to choose unless you know your patient very well, and you may. It is like the scenario of buying new tires for your car – do you wait until you have a flat tire or do you replace them when the tread is wearing?
I also observe dentists using words like, “I think, maybe, could be, small, little”, etc. This does not exude confidence in the diagnosis and can affect the patient’s willingness to accept treatment being recommended. Would you want your medical doctor to tell you that he/she “thinks” you need your appendix removed?
I see many dentists who “under-diagnose” or delay telling the patient what they see because it is the path of least resistance. A diagnosis may require more time to educate the patient and/or listening to patients ask questions or lament that they can’t afford treatment. I tell my clients all the time, it is not your fault that stuff happens to your patients’ teeth. You should feel good that you can help them save what was damaged so they don’t lose the tooth.
There is no right or wrong. You have to do what you are most comfortable with in your approach with patients. But at the same time, it is not fair to expect your schedule coordinator to keep you busy if there is no treatment being presented. If I had a magic wand, I would encourage my clients to give all the options to the patient and let them decide what direction they want to take. Your financial coordinator will help them to afford it.
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