When was the last time you asked your patients about their experience at your dental practice? Understanding the real patient experience is crucial to the case accpetance process. Today we're joined by a patient from a local dental office, that we over heard telling an interesting experience she had at her last dental appointment.



Here's the patients story:

"I had a regular cleaning yesterday scheduled with my dentist. They asked me if I had been experiencing any difficulties in which I shared with them how I was having a little bit of pain on the upper left. They then pulled up an X-ray from 6 months ago and requested to do another X-ray to compare. She had explained that there was a little more grey shading then there was from 6 months ago. When i asked her for more information about the tooth she said "There's a little bit more grey on this Xray than last Xray and I think that you might have a cavity and it would probably be a good idea if we got that taken care of."

After having a bunch of dental anxiety, I thought of all the different reasons about why I didn't want to take care of this and I had asked the doctor how long could I let this cavity go? Again, which she replied, "It might be a good idea to take care of that." "

What do you think the patient heard as she was listening to the doctor with that diagnosis?

This patient "...heard that it wasn't important. I heard words like "might" "could" "possibly" and "maybe" and I wasn't motivated or willing to do anything about that."

Now, most of your patients aren't going to advocate for themselves and when they say "I have to think bout it" it's because they really don't understand and they're hearing exactly what this patient heard.

What happens when you have a more assertive patient?

"She saw my hesitation and I told her that I don't want to do anything about this right now if it's not that important. I then pointed out that "I'm hearing words like might" "could" "possibly" and "maybe" and that I think I could delay treatment. Then I asked a little bit more about treatment then she explained that I could have a root canal or a crown. She then chose to rephrase her diagnosis and said "You have a cavity and if you delay treatment I will need to get a root canal or a crown" - after the doctor said that I walked out to the front desk and scheduled."

What happens when you do not have a patients X-rays on files?

"The Doctor and Hygienist were looking at my records and said "I just noticed that we don't have a pan on you, and I think that would be a good idea." The very first thing I asked, was well how much does that cost? I am a cash patient and I wasn't prepared to come out of pocket for that. At that point I did not see any value in just having another X-ray on file or exposing myself to that radiation."

As you can, there is a huge gap here in communication and an understanding of value of why a panoramic X-ray would be useful or helpful.

"When I'm in the office all I hear is my fear, and anxiety and I don't often hear the importance of what their trying to communicate to me. I need very direct communication to get through my anxiety and fear of additional treatment."

What I'm hearing from his patient is having a connection to your healthcare provider is very important. It's great to be able to sit down with a patient and hear it from the other side is great. Take the information from this video with you and do an exit interview with your patients, this will benefit your practice, your team and your patients.

Remember that we're not treating tooth, we are treating the human around the tooth.

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Darren  Patient


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