3 Simple Strategies to Make Patients Ask for Treatment
These days, it seems like patients get more and more hesitant to accept the treatment you provide, and without that your productivity plummets. However, I don’t think the emphasis should be on case acceptance, but rather on the patient asking us for treatment. It’s exhausting trying to convince patients they have a disease process they don’t believe they have, so instead try shifting your focus to helping patients confront and understand their disease processes through co-discovery. I recently spoke with Katrina Sanders, the Dental WINEgenist herself, about the three strategies she uses to help create a desire for treatment in the patient.
- Stop Telling Them What They Have to Do
I think that back in the day, patients believed anything that a doctor in a white lab coat told them, but now WebMD and Dr. Google are causing people to start questioning. Adults don’t want to be told they have to do something—it needs to be more of their idea. So how do you get them to say, “It sounds like I have a problem”? You must learn to use your verbal skills to convey the:
In order for patients to want treatment, they first need to recognize that there is a problem. If the patients don’t understand the problem, they’re not going to care about the consequences, and they’re certainly not going to care about the solution. The problem is that we often don’t learn how to engage patients and communicate effectively in dental school.
- Disrupt and Innovate
In hygiene school, you’re taught how to talk to the patient about periodontal disease, but you’re not taught how to talk to the patient about their barriers. That person sitting in the chair has motivations and emotions that are far different from the person you practiced with in school, and it can be a big obstacle. I think the underlying problem is that dentistry is very reluctant to change—people are so used to doing the same thing again and again, and I think perio in particular has a bad reputation for that. When you see patients in an asymptomatic disease process, it can be difficult to demonstrate the importance of treatment. It’s not like endodontics, where they’re in pain and understand that the treatment will make the pain go away.
You must learn to be early adopters and start disrupting the usual way of doing things because simply sticking with the bare minimum isn’t going to help your patients. If you want to do better, you need to stop doing the same thing and start asking yourself the uncomfortable questions:
- Why are we not perio charting our patients?
- Why are we skipping looking through their medical history?
- Why are we not asking patients about the medications they’re on?
- Why are we skipping taking vital signs?
- Why do we skip the oral cancer screening if the patient is running late instead of telling them we don’t have enough time to polish their teeth?
It’s like I tell clients all the time: “There are dentists that fix teeth, and there are dentists that change lives.” If you want to help your patients truly improve, you need to start with yourself.
- Use the A.S.K. Technique
The A.S.K. Technique is simple, and it’s where it all comes together: you’re going to use your Assessments to build a Strategy to increase the patients’ Knowledge. By disrupting the usual way of doing things and focusing on the patient’s well-being, you’re able to look at all the aspects of their history. You can then use that information to determine what the most effective approach is to help them understand the importance of treatment. It’s all about determining what they need to know in order to motivate them to want treatment.
Treatment acceptance is such a crucial component to running a successful practice, but instead of repeatedly trying to tell patients what they have to do, you should instead focus on building value for the treatment by increasing the patients’ knowledge. When that happens, you won’t have to tell them what they should do—they’ll ask you for the treatment. Any time you’re implementing new changes in your practice, I recommend talking to an expert. A Better Practice and a Better Life are within your grasp, so reach out to the coaches at ACT and they’ll give you the help you need to get your patients asking for treatment!
Kirk Behrendt is the Founder of ACT Dental