Teach Your Patients Well
We have all worked with new employees or have been a new employee ourselves. There is a time when training has to occur in order for the new person to perform, behave, and be responsible for their actions.
The same has to happen with our patients. It is recommended that every office have protocols and policies in place, not only for the employees, but also for the patients. They also need to be aware of what to expect and what is expected of them as a patient.
For instance, most offices expect their patients to call at least one to two days in advance if they are going to cancel their appointment. We expect our patients to be on time and to respect our time, because we run on time and respect their time.
This is where the training comes in to play. As we all know, it takes time to be trained as a new employee and it takes time to train an employee. The same is true of our patients. Unfortunately, many offices do not take the time and money to train their employees until there is a problem. The same happens when it comes to patients.
We as health care providers are not only doing our patients a service by training them, we are also doing ourselves a service. Many times it is less work to train them correctly from the beginning than to correct them in the future. Training the patients to perform in the manner we wish is the job of every team member.
Whenever a new patient is in the hygiene chair for the first time, it is a great idea to go over with the patient what will happen. Not only at that initial visit with the hygienist, but also go over what to expect at future appointments. One example of this would be, “Mr. Jones, today I will be providing a professional cleaning appointment for you. Because you just had your exam with the doctor, there are a few things that we do on a routine basis at your professional cleaning appointment that I will not be doing today because the doctor just did them at your exam appointment. The first thing we do is an oral cancer exam, check for cavities and periodontal disease, gum pocket depth, and once a year we will take x-rays to check for cavities.” Tell them how long their hygiene appointment will usually be.
Doing this at the beginning of the relationship allows the patient to know what to expect of you. This also creates a need for them to return, because they now realize that they are having more than, “just a cleaning”.
Yes, the patient may forget every word you told them, but when they come in for the next appointment, and you inform them of what you are going to do that day it will all come back to them. This helps with treatment acceptance.
When the patient calls to make their appointment or the office calls to make their professional hygiene appointment, the Scheduling Coordinator will remind the patient of what is going to happen during their appointment and the amount of time needed so it is not a surprise to them.
There are so many times, we as hygienists, can drop a seed in the patient’s ear by casually mentioning something to them. When we take the explorer or probe out to check around the mouth before we get started for any areas of concern. Just talking out loud to ourselves and to the patient about what we see. “Well, Mr. Jones everything looks pretty good, but you have some large fillings on the last two teeth in the upper right that are getting pretty old that I want Doctor to look at today.”
At the last quadrant of root planing, explain to the patient the difference between a cleaning and a periodontal maintenance appointment so the patient is more aware of what to expect. This is a great way to help relieve them of the fears they may have. Many times, the thing we fear the most is the fear created within ourselves because we do not know what to expect.
Making our patients more aware and educated about our office procedures, policies, and expectations right from the beginning is a great way to help our patients, the practice, and ourselves.
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