Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2019 02 Patient Communication 1

Why, what, and how we help our dental patients accept treatment

Feb. 14, 2019
The simple step of sharing why, what, and how with your dental patients will make accepting treatment easier for them.
Our dental team is a bit unique. We have three doctors and five administrators, and each have a specific role. Three of our administrators work exclusively with one of the three doctors, the fourth focuses on the hygiene coordinator, and the fifth is the insurance expert. As a team, we have found that if we start with the why, share the what, and give them a how, we not only help our patients receive care, but we also build valuable and rewarding long-term patient relationships.

Start with why

Patients have their reasons for choosing a specific dental practice. They can get clinical care at any dentist, but we have patients who choose to receive their dentistry from us, and then continue to return for 30 and 40 years. We believe it’s because we started with the why when we developed all of our practice’s systems and processes.

The why is our purpose and value—it’s not clinical dentistry. It’s why we do what we do every day. It’s about making a difference in a person’s life and connecting with that person on a personal level, not just at the first appointment, but at every patient interaction. When we help patients understand why we do what we do, it helps them feel confident they have chosen the right dental home.

For example, one simple way we demonstrate our why is by never leaving patients by themselves while they are in our practice. The last thing we want to do is to have a guest seated in an operatory alone. You wouldn’t say to a guest in your home, “Hi, welcome. Sit here by yourself and I’ll be back in 20 minutes.” From the moment patients walk in the door to the goodbye, one of our team members is with them, educating them, building a relationship, and having a real person-to-person conversation.

Share the what

The what that patients want to know is not the clinical details of the treatment; it’s how the treatment will specifically benefit them and positively impact their lives. It is the value of the treatment. Each patient values different things. Our job as administrators is to ask the questions that help us connect the care to something the patient values.

For example, is it having a smile that takes years off someone appearance? Is it having the convenience of same-day dentistry? The what also includes the information the patient need to make an informed decision on care. What will the treatment entail? What will the person experience and feel? What is happening in the person’s mouth that is creating discomfort or need for dentistry? When we’ve done a good job sharing all of the whats, patients understand and value the care, which makes their decision to accept treatment easier.

Give them a how

When patients understand the what and are ready to schedule, the next step is to give them a how. The how typically revolves around helping patients fit care into their busy schedules or into their family budgets.

For example, during the financial conversation, we review the treatment, reinforce the what or the value of the care, and then walk through the costs associated with the benefits they will receive from the dentistry. I normally have a printed treatment plan to review with them. We discuss their insurance contribution and what their estimated out-of-pocket portion will be.

We then provide them with the payment options we offer so they can choose what’s best for them. We accept cash and credit cards, including CareCredit. We have found that when we hesitate to offer all of the financial solutions up front, patients may become hesitant to accept care. Make it easy for them to say yes. It’s why you and your team come to work every day—to help patients receive exceptional care from a group of people who truly care about them and their oral and overall health.

Karah Garrison has been providing care coordination for Seal Beach Dentistry for 15 years. She enjoys making patients feel at home when they step into the office and she loves that the practice focuses on oral and systemic health. When not providing continuing care for patients, she enjoys crafting, camping and spending time with her husband and three wonderful children.

Author’s note: This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony Financial and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in Why, what, and how we help our dental patients accept treatment are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions. Karah Garrison collaborates with CareCredit to develop educational materials for the dental industry.

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