Get in the Driver’s Seat: Understanding Treatment Opportunities

Our thoughts create our reality and may hold us back. In some dental practices, we project the story that the patient can or cannot afford a particular treatment plan, or presume they want what the insurance plan will or will not accept. This often defines the care we recommend.

As healthcare professionals, we have an obligation to first explain all of our findings in simple lay terms and listen to the patient’s goals. Together, a course can be charted that will result in a happy patient with a healthy smile.

Each patient in your schedule falls into one of three categories:

The first category represents patients who have incomplete diagnosed dentistry. This is dental care you have recommended to the patient but remains unscheduled. This type of dentistry represents disease, decay or infection.

The second category represents patients who would benefit from an ideal approach to foundational dentistry. These are opportunities to present treatment. Depending on your practice philosophy and how you diagnose care in category one, the second category may represent anything from a bite splint to a smile makeover.

The third category represents patients who are healthy and have no immediate or foundational needs at this time.

This mindset may affect your approach as well as your team’s approach when speaking with patients. As in sports, the best way to change the approach is to practice the right form. The following is one of several great team meeting exercises that will enable your team to shake off the negative mindset and start the positive approach to patient discussions:

1. Begin by counting the total number of people in the room.

2. Ask team members to stand who have immediate dental needs – category one.

3. Have them continue standing.

4. Ask team members to stand who represent treatment opportunities for ideal care – category two (At this point, you will most likely have about 60% of the team standing).

5.Assign one team member to count how many people are standing. Record the  number.

6. Now have them sit and ask the healthy population to stand – category three. We recommend congratulating this group as they represent ideal health for the time being.

7. Now … do the math!

It hasn’t failed yet … the results are consistent! If we look at how this exercise translates into a ratio of treatment possibilities, 66% of patients coming into the office today need some type of care that can be presented. Our goal is to show the connection and reinforce the importance of presenting treatment possibilities. The opportunity now presents itself for the doctor and team to brainstorm about different approaches to get over the fear of presenting care.

When there is a disconnect in communicating the value of ideal care to patients, it can be overcome by alignment between the doctor and team, creating predictable systems to build confidence and improving the communication skills of everyone involved. To deliver ideal care, make developing a clear road map with patient care your first priority. At Smarter Practice Solutions, we enjoy putting a foundation in place to enhance communication and case presentation. Remember to PRESENT with INTENT so you increase your chance of success!