The review of findings (ROF) is done during an important follow-up visit with a new or existing patient who has just completed a comprehensive examination. In this three-part series, we will discuss exactly what goes into an effective review of the findings visit and its follow-up, and we will examine why it is such a key element in successful case presentations. In this first article, however, we will focus on the what, who, and when: what it is, who gets it, and when to do it.
We begin with the understanding that the review of findings is a key ingredient in the new patient exam in your dental practice. While it is not for every patient that enters your practice, it should be the “special sauce” that follows your new patient comprehensive exam and should be incorporated into the new patient experience.
One way to do this is to build value for it during the new patient phone call, to establish expectations for the patient and set the stage for your amazing practice. For this reason, each member of the dental team should experience the new patient exam and review of findings so that they can help describe the advantages of this two-part visit.
When describing the ROF, your team can use language such as:
“Your comprehensive examination will be followed by dedicated one-on-one time with the doctor. This 30-minute appointment is specially reserved for you to have an in-depth tour of your mouth and better understand the status of your oral health. The doctor will be happy to answer any of your questions at that time. We see how much patients appreciate gaining the knowledge necessary to make empowered and informed decisions about their mouths. We would love to schedule you for your new patient exam and review of findings. How does this sound?”
Our patients rarely take issue with the two-part scheduling of the exam and review of findings, and in many cases, they even look forward to it.
The patient who wants to enter your practice as what they would consider a “healthy-mouth teeth cleaning” will not have a review of findings immediately scheduled; however, you can invite them back for a comprehensive exam and review of findings if what you are seeing in hygiene appears complex and the patient would benefit from a more in-depth evaluation. As Spear Resident Faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Rouse starts the conversation with a patient who fits this category, “Would you do me a favor?” Meaning, “Would you do me a favor and come back and have a comprehensive exam and review of findings with me?”
The patient who is scheduled for a review of findings at the same time they schedule for their new patient exam (we call this “the new patient experience” in our office) has already been filtered — they will be deemed the more discerning patient, or the patient who has more dental concerns and needs and expresses this in their initial phone conversation. This is a patient who values their dental health enough to sit down with the dentist and learn more about the status of their mouth.
The comprehensive examination preceding the review of findings should follow the protocols outlined in the Treatment Planning with Confidence workshop. This detailed examination generally takes about one hour. It does not need to be reserved for every patient but is excellent for those seeking a thorough and complete assessment of their oral health. This examination is the foundation for the review of findings, as it gathers the information you will be discussing with the patient.
The review of findings should take place outside the operatory in a consultation room after the examination is complete and the dentist has synthesized all the gathered information.
The appointment can directly follow the examination; however, I recommend it be performed as a separate in-person visit for the patient. Once you become adept at the art of the review of findings, it can be completed immediately after the comprehensive exam or even virtually. However, there are benefits to an in-person conversation with a patient seeking a more in-depth understanding of their oral health status.
The purpose of the review of findings is to review, with an engaged patient, what you have seen and assessed in the comprehensive examination. After you synthesize all the information gathered in your exam by reviewing extraoral and intraoral photos, all health and dental history, exam findings, and x-rays, you will walk the patient through a methodical process of letting them know what you see. This is the beginning of the co-diagnostic process.
The review of findings is an excellent opportunity to continue to set yourself apart from other clinicians and allow patients to build trust with you as you give them insight into their current oral health conditions and how their oral health may impact their overall health. In the following article in this series, we will go into more detail about what is involved in that review of findings visit.
Dr. Margaret Frankel is a contributing author for Spear Digest.