3 false assumptions made by dentists

March 8, 2010

By Art Deden

Patients have much better things to do with their time and money than spend it on your work. I know this may shock some of you, but patients don't place dental work high on their list of priorities. Educating patients that they need to fit their lives into your dentistry is not a good way to help them become healthier. Yet how they fit dentistry into their lives is a major concern that impacts most patients.

Here are three false assumptions dentists make about their patients:

False Assumption 1: Patients will do what they NEED to do (most don't).

False Assumption 2: Patients want OPTIMAL care (most don't).

False Assumption 3: Patients understand a tooth that is asymptomatic may still need treatment (most don't).

When patients are not aware of their condition and if it doesn't hurt or look bad, the discussion usually becomes, "If I need this treatment, why do I not feel any pain?" Think about it ... we live in a "wants-driven" society where needs take a back seat. Most people spend money on things they want rather than on things they need, even when it involves their health.

Consider that most people complain when gasoline exceeds $2.50 per gallon but gladly shell out $3.50 for 12 ounces of their favorite Starbucks drink simply because they want it.

The point is that you and your team need to show patients the "value" of the treatment you are recommending. When patients see the value in the outcomes you’re suggesting, they will make the necessary financial arrangements. Value equals Benefit (of treatment) minus Cost.

The truth is that you know how to perform more procedures than patients are willing to put in their mouths. The problem is not your clinical skills ... the problem is your interpersonal skills. Is your practice educating patients about the "why and value" of the treatment you recommend rather than as something they merely "need?" Do you and your team need to build your interpersonal skills to help more patients improve their health? If so, what are you doing about it?

Art Deden is a skilled practice management educator who doesn’t just talk about growth — he lives it. He understands what works, what doesn’t, and why. His “nuts and bolts” approach to practice management helps dental practices optimize their resources and improve patient satisfaction. To learn more about Art, e-mail him at [email protected].