As a dentist, you want to give your patients the best care possible. You try to find all the problems that your patients have, and suggest solutions that will have the maximum positive impact on their health.
But, many times, your patients won't agree with your treatment plan, or simply not follow through with their treatment. One of the main reasons for that is a lack of trust, which stems from the lack of a healthy relationship between you and the patient.
The key to success in a dental practice is an excellent patient-provider relationship, even the ADA has proven so.
With relationships being such an important part of your practice's success, you should actively seek to improve your relationships with your patients. But, how do you do it? How do you approach treatment planning with a relationship building approach? That's what we are discussing today in this article.
How To Lead The Patient During Treatment Planning
When you make a treatment plan, you use your expertise and experience in deciding the best course of action. But, the patient doesn't have the knowledge or the experience to judge if the treatment plan is the best for them.
The best solution for you and the patient is that you explain the treatment plan to them in detail. Once you've performed the diagnosis, sit down with the patient with all the diagnostic information and X-rays, and spend some time explaining in simple terms what you've found, what needs to be done, and what will happen if the symptoms are left untreated. Make sure to encourage patients to ask if they have any questions and clear any misunderstandings.
Explaining the treatment options in a jargon-free manner is not only a great opportunity for you to demonstrate your clinical expertise, but also obtain informed consent from the patient—which is an excellent basis for creating an on-going relationship.
Another important thing to remember is that not all patients are the same. Each patient has a different pain tolerance, financial capabilities, aesthetic preferences, and other treatment preferences. For the treatment to be a pleasant experience, the treatment plan should be tailored to the patient’s needs.
Instead of making a call about which treatment is better for the patient, an ideal way to approach the problem is to provide multiple treatment options wherever possible. Help the patient understand the pros and cons of each of the treatment options and put them in control by asking them which plan suits them the best.
The next tip is about money. Discussing fees with patients is rarely pleasant or even comfortable, but it has to be done. Most patients will rarely open up about their expectations regarding money, so it’s important that you take the lead.
Most patients have some expectations or “anchors” regarding pricing for specific treatments. A major deviation from that expectation can be a cause of discomfort and lack of treatment follow-through.
Therefore, it is important to avoid any surprises with payments. Making sure that their insurance quotes are accurate and up to date, clearly explaining your fee structure, proactively communicating any fee changes, and making them aware about any factors that may cause the fee to change are just some of the things that you can do to manage your patient’s expectations regarding finances.
It has been well documented that dental care is one of the most fear and anxiety producing forms of health care for patients. But, it is also proven that a successful dentist-patient relationship paves the way for lower anxiety and better therapeutic results for patients, and an improved closing rate for dentists.
Relationship building is a constant process, and the treatment planning phase is no different. By following our advice, you can transform the treatment planning process from being an anxiety-inducing, painful process to one that helps you build a great relationship with your patients. The result of this transformation is a higher acceptance rate, an increase in the number of referrals, and more business for your practice.
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