Providing healthier mouths to patients and doing more fulfilling dentistry (and making more money as a result) are admirable goals most practices have. I have written a couple of times about techniques that help us improve case acceptance: creating curiosity and co-discovery, listening, the learning ladder, and more.
This brief overview is an attempt to see the process as a journey for the patient and to consider their perspective:
Patient’s Journey: Eighteen Inches at a Time
It Starts in the Head
Patients first listen to the facts about dental care, their need and wants, issues or diseases that they have, and potential treatment solutions. Sadly, facts are not enough.
Developing great listening skills, caring, and trust help patients come to see you as their health advisor. This requires an eighteen-inch ‘Journey to the Heart’! It is there that caring and trust live. The emotional connection is very important in case acceptance. To ignore it is to minimize your success. But that too is not enough.
The patient must schedule, keep appointments, and pay for recommended treatment. This ‘Journey to the Wallet’ is the next eighteen-inch trip the patient must take. It is the execution of the plan from their perspective.
Valuing dental care and oral health is demonstrated by their checkbook and what they spend time and money on. Still not done?
The next eighteen-inches take us to a knee. Appreciation helps fulfill us as caregivers. Most rewards are best when they are balanced, financial, and behavioral: money and warm fuzzies, you get the idea. Money alone does not buy happiness (but it does help you enjoy your misery in some mighty fine places!).
The final journey takes us eighteen inches to the patient’s feet. When patients tell others about your practice and refer their friends, you have come full circle. This trust display is the ultimate compliment to you and your team.
Keep the Patient’s Perspective in Mind
Ask yourself the following and seek answers with your team to enhance patient health, your fulfillment, and mutual rewards:
· Have you helped nurture movement toward the heart?
· Did the patient accept and schedule treatment? If not, why not?
· Were they able to pay with gratitude and appreciation? (borrowed from Dr. Pankey)
· Did you ask for and receive referrals of their friends and family?
Remember, it’s a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the trip and check the map along the way. You, your team, and your patients will all be the better for it.
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles. -Tim Cahill