The traditional case presentation process doesn’t prepare patients well for accepting complete care. This is exactly why dentists who’ve been well trained in complex dentistry often have hundreds of thousands of dollars of unaccepted care in their practices. This is also why these same dentists have patients abandon their practices never to return from sticker shock.
As a dentist, you’ll wear two hats; provider and patient advocate.
The provider is the clinician, the one who performs dentistry and directs clinical services. Our fee for being the provider is paid by the patient for clinical services.
The advocate is the advisor, the one who guides, supports, and encourages. Our fee for being the advocate is paid by the patient for the examination and consulting services.
Advocates present treatment in terms of outcomes – comfort, confidence, peace of mind.
Providers present treatment in terms of inputs – crowns, bridges, implants.
Your foremost role as the advocate is to help your patients make healthcare decisions regardless of the impact of those decisions on the provider role clinical fees.
It starts during the new patient conversation and continues through treatment presentation. Advocacy is the emotional outcome for patients when they realize your concern about how dentistry needs to fit into their lives; the suitability of their dental care. This is especially critical for the moderate to complex care patient
90% of complex care patients are not ready to accept complete care.
Anticipate their lack of readiness early in your relationship. For many patients, it’s not the right time in their life for moderate to complex care. So, what do you do with the 90% who aren’t ready? This is what your advocate role serves. Advocates communicate to patients that treatment acceptance is not a condition of a continuing good relationship and that treatment can proceed when they’re ready. Readiness is the patient’s decision, not ours.
Give patients ball-park estimates of cost and time in treatment.
The more you keep your advocate role clear in your own mind and obvious to the patient, the more your patient will trust the clinical recommendations that benefit your provider role.
In my case presentation program, Making it Easy for Patient’s to Say “Yes!”, we train on communication and confidently presenting treatment through dialogue. The intention of the advocacy dialogue is to reassure that patient that we’ll look to find a way to fit our treatment recommendations into their life circumstances. This dialogue opens the conversation about whether some, all or none of your treatment recommendations will fit into their lives now.
When you’re ready to train your team on presenting treatment and patient dialogue, I can help.