Previously I shared some tips for improving case acceptance (click here for Part 1 and Part 2) and I wrote that I do not always review all my findings with the patient at the new patient exam. It’s important to clarify that while I always share what I see clinically as I do my exam, I do not always discuss fully their treatment options and a treatment plan since in some cases I may need more time to fully review all the radiographs and photographs we took. When this is the case we have the patient return for an appointment we call the Review Of Findings (ROF). However, if the patient is in pain or has an urgent need we always discuss how we can address that at the initial appointment. In this article I will cover how this appointment can help increase your case acceptance as well as some additional tips for all your cases.
The first thing to keep in mind with any case is that our patients, for the most part at least, are not dentists. This means if we want them to have the best understanding of what is going in their mouth, and as a result improve our case acceptance, we cannot talk to them in “our” language. Rather we must talk as much as possible in plain language and keep things as simple as possible while still covering enough detail so they are fully informed and can make an educated and informed choice.
So what about those cases for which you need more time to review things prior to the ROF appointment? In my office the first step prior to the ROF is for me to fully review all the information we have gathered. I will then put together a Power Point or Keynote file as taught in the Facially Generated Treatment Planning Workshop. (Editor note: Spear also has a great upcoming course with Dr. Kevin Kwiecien and Dr. Maryanne Salcetti entitled “Continual Specialist Communications: Who is Responsible?” that addresses patient communication. Stay tuned!) Once this is done my Treatment Coordinator and I meet and review the case prior to meeting with the patient. This allows them to ask any questions as well as add any input they have on the case.
The next step is meeting with the patient for the ROF. This meeting takes place in our consultation room with myself, my treatment coordinator and anyone (such as a spouse) that the patient would like to have present. (Editor note: The ideal flow of this appointment is outlined in Dr. Kwiecien and Dr. Salcetti’s upcoming course – stay tuned!) Again I cannot stress it enough to keep it simple! Remember many of our cases are complex, which makes it easy for the patient to become confused and overwhelmed. And what often happens when people are overwhelmed? Typically they do not make a concrete choice, and say they are unsure of what to do. So the more we can simplify and distill things the better, since doing so will allow our patients to have a clear understanding of their choices so that they may select the choice that is best for them.
Just like anything in life practice makes perfect. If some of these tips seem challenging at first, stick with it and maybe even role play with your team to practice. Lastly, again, cover what you must to fully inform your patient but at the same time keep it as simple as possible.
John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author www.johncarsondds.com