On Aug. 18 we announced a new feature to the Spear Online platform, a series of waiting room videos designed to:
- Raise the dental acumen of patients as they wait for their appointments
- Help patients understand the consequences of inaction for common dental conditions in a non-threatening way that does not make them feel “broken”
- Serve as a jumping off point for more in-depth conversations about patients’ oral health
- Run silently so as not to intrude in the environment of the reception area
- Provide helpful information without being “salesy” or “commercial”
Why do we care so much about patient communication? We have always sought to help the striving dentist improve in both competence and confidence. Unfortunately, providing clinicians tools and training to become clinically excellent is only part of the journey. If their staff does not buy in and the patients do not agree to do the dentistry, then the dentists will only be better in theory.
The other challenge is that as clinicians gain the ability to do more comprehensive dentistry, their ability to communicate must also improve. Getting a patient to say “yes” to a small composite restoration takes little communication skills, but on the other hand getting them to see that they need multiple quadrants and ortho to correct an occlusion problem is a whole different thing.
This is not a new dilemma. L.D. Pankey, in his book “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry,” said “Along with technical mastery, it is imperative to build your communication skills. In fact the key to a successful dental practice, one that allows dentists to use their technical ability to their greatest potential, is the ability to communicate.”(Pankey, 1985)
Our philosophy has always been simple. We co-discover along with the patients and we work to have them initiate the conversation about treatment options.
These waiting room videos take that whole journey into account and, as we have done in the past, we tested these on patients to ensure that we were creating the desired outcome.
We surveyed 400 people who were:
- Over the age of 25
- Make more than $50,000 a year
- Visited the dentist at least once in the last 12 months
Here is what we found:
- 35 percent of patients did not move forward with recommended treatment
- Of those, 24 percent did not list money as a reason that they did not move forward with treatment
So, let’s say you have 1,500 patients.
- If you present treatment to 30 percent of these patients, then our research indicates that 157 patients said no.
- Of those, our research shows that 37 did so for reasons that had nothing to do with money.
Now, after watching our “cracked teeth” waiting room video:
- Only 16 percent felt you could wait on getting a cracked tooth fixed
- Only 16 percent felt that small cracks in teeth were not a concern
- 84 percent of patients felt that wait and see was a bad choice for small cracks (they became aware of the problem)
- 86 percent felt that repairing a cracked tooth prevents more work in the future (they understand the consequences of inaction)
- 91 percent reported they would move forward with treatment after seeing the video
And best of all, 78 percent reported they would like their dentist to show videos like this in their practice. Unfortunately, what we know from previous research is that only 8 percent have seen videos as part of a case presentation.
If you are a member of Spear Online, click this link to see our waiting room videos.
If you are not yet a member, but want to see one of these videos for yourself, click here.