Case Acceptance

As we know, case acceptance is critical. We can't treat our patients without it, and we can't help them if we can't treat them. For me the key to case acceptance is simple, in principal at least. That principle is to find out what your patient wants and then figure out a way to give it to them. While this can sometimes be easier said than done, not doing this makes things even harder. Think about it, has anybody ever tried to get you to buy or do something you had no interest in? How did it go? I am betting in most cases you did not do or buy it and if you did it was not a great experience. Now think about something you really wanted to do or buy. It was totally different right? Probably if it was something that you really wanted or needed you found a way to do or buy it. It is the same for our patients; if we want to help them the most we must uncover their goals.

In this article I will cover some tips that have helped me improve the ability to do this over the years. Since trying all this tips at once can be a bit overwhelming at first, I will break these down over several articles so you can phase them slowly rather than getting overwhelmed by trying everything at once.

First and foremost, we need to discover the goals of our patients and then structure our conversations and recommendations around these goals. The first thing I want to do when I meet a patient is to have a conversation about their goals. The key to this conversation is asking open-ended questions such as “Tell me what brings you in?” or “What, if anything, do you wish to be different about your teeth?” It is crucial to wait for the patient to answer after you ask your question. This will be hard at first as there will be what seems like an eternity of silence, but wait for them to answer. Ideally this conversation should take place in a non-clinical setting such as a consultation room, if available. The reasoning behind this is the fact that as soon as many patients enter an operatory their anxiety increases, and as a result they may not be as open during the conversation.

Remember to be patient when trying this out in your practice. Just like most things worth doing it may take some time to get really comfortable with. Do not be afraid to use your own language, just remember to keep the questions open-ended and wait for the patient to answer before you ask another question! Stay tuned for my next article with more tips to add to the ones discussed here.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author


Commenter's Profile Image Brien Harvey
April 15th, 2015
John, I agree completely. We could use this post to generate a list from Spear Docs of favorite open-ended questions during an initial patient visit/consultation. Here is a favorite of mine (and many patients do take a long time to come up with their best answer, so doctors, be patient while they are working their way through to their best answer): "What are you hoping that I can do for you?"
Commenter's Profile Image John R. Carson
April 15th, 2015
Great idea Brien although I think we will see more response on Spear Talk ,as such I have started a thread there on this! Check it out here: