Educating Patients about Their Needs
Many dental professionals do not consider themselves to be “selling dentistry”, but if you are educating your patients about their needs, you are selling dentistry. And if you are not educating your patients about their needs, you are not doing your patients or your practice a service!
Whether you own a practice or work in a practice, it is your practice. It is important for every member of the team to realize that everything they say and do, as well as the way they feel towards the practice, dentist or other members of the team, makes a difference in the quality of services being provided. Believing in your product is key when presenting treatment to your patients, and it effects acceptance rates as well.
It is important for the team to agree with the doctor’s style of treatment planning and diagnosing. Team members should understand how, what and why the doctor diagnoses and treatment plans both hard and soft tissue of the oral cavity. If there is a new dentist/owner in the practice, it is important for the new doctor to educate team members on his/her style of diagnosing, treatment planning and verbiage when explaining information to patients.
One way to do this is to have the hygienist stay in the operatory while the doctor is doing the exam and have the hygienist listen to what is being said to the patient. Once the doctor has left, the hygienist will want to look at the patient’s mouth and see exactly why the doctor recommended a crown on #18 and a buildup on #19 and a crown. This will help the hygienist to become more comfortable with the new doctor’s treatment planning style, and eventually the doctor will be able to come in at any time to do the exam, make recommendations, briefly go over what is needed, and leave the room as soon as possible to get back to his or her own patient.
It will become the hygienist’s responsibility to answer any clinical questions the patient may have before escorting him/her to the Financial Coordinator. The last thing the hygienist should ask patients before they leave is, “What questions, comments, or concerns do you have?” The most important thing is to make sure it is an open-ended question. If the hygienist or any member of the team is wishy-washy with their verbiage, it may effect trust levels or create questions in the patient’s mind regarding the treatment recommended.
Another important aspect of learning and knowing the doctor’s diagnosing style is being able to inform patients of treatment that may need to be done before the doctor even enters the room. This gives the patient a head’s up, and allows for a much smoother turnover from hygienist to doctor.
The easiest way for front office staff to learn the doctor’s style is to have them come in during an examination, or towards the end of an appointment when the patient is sitting up and the doctor is presenting their needs to them. This will help enable your Financial Coordinator to present information to patients more confidently. It will also enable the recall person when they are working on clearing treatment pending and getting patients scheduled.
No matter what you teach your team, the treatment may not be accepted at the highest rate possible if they do not have complete faith in what, why and how the doctor diagnoses. It is important to have an entire team that believes not only in the doctor, but in the entire vision of the practice.
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