By Vicki L. Garza, RDA
In a perfect world we would all like to have implant case acceptance at the first consult, regardless of the number of implants planned. But what happens if you don’t get a resounding yes? Did you ever wonder what makes people hesitate or, even worse, say no? One reason may be that the patient’s personality style has impacted how he or she interpreted what you said.
Think about it for a minute — there are all different types of people who learn in different ways. We may have a confused patient (one who is seeking information to help understand what’s happened and what will take place), a know-it-all (one who has done his or her research homework), or a shopper (one who likes to play “Let’s make a deal!”).
I like to challenge myself on handling different implant treatment consults. If you have taken on the position as an ITC (implant treatment coordinator) for your dental practice, don’t worry. You, too, will learn how to handle each situation and became a pro at this position. It helps to get involved in an organization that will help train you for being an ITC and that will provide support and lots of networking, such as the ADIA.
Let’s talk about the “researcher” (aka know-it-all) patient. This person comes in to your office having already educated him/herself on implant dentistry. In my opinion, this is the easier implant consult if the patient has collected reputable information. Then, all that’s left is to explain the fine details for the patient’s specific treatment plan. However, if the patient has some misinformation, it could present trust issues. The best idea is to give these patients a list of quality sources of information (such as the ICOI) that will correctly explain the procedures.
The “confused” patient needs more information and to gain your trust. Use a little extra TLC. Do not rush through the consultation. Always make patients feel that you welcome any questions they may have, and if they need to make another consult appointment, that’s perfectly fine. It also helps to have models, flip charts, brochures, and videos to assist in your explanations to these patients.
The “shopper” is one who has some ideas about what’s involved in implant treatment. These patients have probably had a previous implant consult elsewhere (if not two or three). They like to play “Let’s make a deal!” In other words, they want the “Rolls Royce” treatment plan for the price of bus fare. These people have missed something in the “value” side of how implants can restore and prevent disease. The importance of re-education should point out the high qualifications of the clinician, the quality of the services, and the importance of utilizing an excellent laboratory. To cut a price would certainly mean sacrificing quality, and the patient needs to understand that this is not the policy of the practice. Perhaps this may be the time to bring up third-party financing and different payment options that can make the treatment affordable.
No matter what the personality type of the patient, we must remember not to “judge a book by its cover.” Focus on excellent education and communication skills. During your implant consultations, be sure to take enough time and explain every detail to your patient, and invite questions or concerns. After all, you are the voice of the practice that the patient has chosen for treatment, and the one in which he or she trusts.
Vicki Garza has spent the last 23 years as a dental assistant in various practices in the Austin, Texas, area. Her current tasks include working with an oral surgeon in conjunction with a local trauma center, and serving as a lead surgical assistant and implant treatment coordinator. She can be reached at [email protected].
By Vicki L. Garza, RDA