Knowing The Patient's Benefits, Concerns, And Motivators
How many of you are presenting treatment blindly with either a threat of what may happen if they do not follow through, or telling the patient what they need without really telling them why it would benefit them to have the treatment done? Rather than presenting treatment blindly, you want to know what is important to the patient, whether it is health, looks, or avoiding pain.
Once the patient’s motivators and concerns are determined, it is important that team members are also aware. Find a place that it will be noted in the computer, then approach the patient according to their motivators and concerns. Rather than asking the patient if they want a fluoride treatment, it is better to tell them that it is recommended for them to have fluoride. Then inform them why it will benefit them and not what may happen if they don’t have one. Most patients are motivated by staying healthy, and knowing how treatment will benefit them is the best approach.
When it comes to fluoride, there are many adult patients that would benefit from having a professionally applied fluoride. There are the elderly patients that have recession and are beginning to start their second phase of being in the “cavity prone years.” There are also the younger patients that have yet to make it through their “cavity prone years.” Both would benefit from having professional strength fluoride in addition to prescription strength at-home fluoride in order to prevent decay. There are also some patients that would benefit from a fluoride because of abfractions or areas that have recession and are sensitive to temperature.
How many times have you told a patient they need x-rays and they refuse to have them done? Your response to the patient may be: “Mr. Smith, if you don’t have the x-rays taken today then there may be a cavity, and that cavity can get bigger and result in the need for a root canal if left undetected.” This is one approach if the patient is concerned and motivated by pain.
For a patient that is concerned with health and refuses x-rays, it may be better to explain to the patient the benefit of having them. “Mr. Smith, by getting x-rays we will be able to verify that everything in your mouth is healthy. Not only your teeth, but the bone that supports the teeth.”
If the patient is concerned with money, the following verbiage may work best: “Mr. Smith with regular x-rays we are usually able to detect problems at an earlier stage of disease, and if you do need future treatment, it may help to decrease the amount of money needed to treat it by catching the disease at an earlier stage.”
What about the crown the patient needs and has had treatment planned for a couple of years now? Why are they not having it done – is it money, fear, pain? Once you have determined the reason they are not having the crown done, it is time to educate them about why they need to have it done. This is the time to ease their money concerns, whether it is insurance coverage, establishing a credit card plan with outside financing like Care Credit, or doing the dentistry in stages that works for them financially. If it is just left hanging there and the problem is not addressed, the patient may not even be aware of all of the different options they have when it comes to getting the work done and being able to afford it.
The same is true of fear and pain. Knowing what motivates your patients will help you with knowing how to approach them as the individual that they are. What is most important to them? Health, looks, money? We all have different motivators and approaching others with what matters to them is what will help to get additional treatment done.
Also keep in mind the patient’s personality. An extroverted person will want to be approached differently than a person that is an introvert. The same is true when it comes to a person that is a feeler compared to a person that is a thinker.
There are many things to think of when approaching people with their dental health needs. Keeping all of this in mind will help prevent your patients from seeking second opinions or possibly leaving your practice all together.
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