And What It Takes to Make Them WANT the Treatment They Need

Why dental patients say now image 1One of the most common frustrations every dentist experiences is the patient who declines necessary treatment. “If only I could get them to really understand,” the dentist thinks. “If they could just see what I am seeing, and know what I know.”

It really is one of the biggest questions dentists need to address – how do you get patients to understand that untreated conditions only get worse (and more expensive)? How do you get them to own the condition of their oral health and to take appropriate action? Because nothing happens until they do.

At Spear, we wanted to get to the heart of these crucial questions, so we commissioned a research study to find out why patients decline treatment and what motivates them to accept. You can get access to the white paper report we produced here – it makes for very insightful reading – but essentially it comes down to this: Patients need to fully understand the nature of their condition and the consequences for not taking action before they are ready to hear about solutions.

Giving a patient this kind of complete clarity is what creates a sense of urgency, or even sometimes anxiety, that gets them curious and genuinely motivated to discuss treatment options. Only when they have that deep understanding do you move ahead and create a vision for treatment and show them the possibilities you can offer in a way that excites their interest.

This research is what informed the thinking behind our new series of patient education videos. They are designed to help dentists do exactly what the report suggests they must do to engage patients’ interest – it gives them the tools to clearly and concisely explain the condition that needs treatment, demonstrate what will happen if that treatment doesn’t happen, and then, in a separate video, provide a patient-centered tutorial on treatment possibilities.

There is something about seeing this, as opposed to hearing about it, that really resonates with patients. In fact, when we tested early beta versions of the videos on actual patients, the results were even more dramatic than we expected. In the case of people who watched the cracked tooth animation video – which is not gory but is certainly graphic in its depiction of what happens when a cracked tooth goes untreated – there were patients who started asking “What can be done to fix this?” before even getting to the part that discussed treatment. They weren’t asking about cost, they weren’t asking to “think about it.” They were asking to get going. Watching the video created that sense of urgency. It was an effect we saw over and over again, with more than 90 percent of our research subjects saying that watching the explanatory video influenced their decision to accept treatment.

If you have a Spear Online membership, you simply must take a look at these tools and see how easy they are to use, and how effective they can be. (If you don’t have a membership, this would be a great reason to activate a 7-day guest pass.) There is even a tutorial from Dr. Frank Spear that shows you how to use these videos and integrate them into the patient experience. Put them to the test on your own patients. I think you’ll find that when it comes to getting patients to understand why they need to proceed with treatment, seeing is believing.

(Click this link for more articles by Imtiaz Manji.)