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The non-confrontational new patient digital exam

August 24th, 2005 · No Comments

Today’s consumer is very well informed. They have more information available to them than ever before through sources like the media and the internet.

Computers, digital cameras, and photographic quality printers are all in the main stream of consumer purchases. Consumers are also accustomed to watching and learning via a television or computer monitor.

Our patients are these consumers.

These same consumers come into our dental offices and presentations utilizing these digital media are very well received. There is another advantage to using these media in that they remove the potential confrontation from the treatment plan. Seeing is believing!

Most people have some degree of confrontational tolerance. Some will avoid confrontation at all costs. Others welcome confrontation.
Dentists have been shown via numerous studies to be introverts. The numbers approach 75%.

Dentists that have a low level of confrontational tolerance (most of us) will not present a full and complete treatment plan in order to avoid confrontation.

What could be the confrontational answers?

“My old dentist, Charlie, who I played golf with once a week, said I was in great shape six months ago.”

“I’ll think about it.” In your mind this means – “ Gimme a break. You must have a kid going to college.”

“My gums have always bled. It’s normal for me.”

“I’m sure my insurance will cover those veneers.” You think – “She’ll flip when she finds out insurance covers nothing.

Let me present a new scenario for the new patient exam to eliminate the confrontational tolerance factor and present dentistry in a consumer friendly manner. This is the way we have been doing the new patient exam in my office for the last six months. Case acceptance has skyrocketed.

The entire process is centered on the new patient coordinator. The process starts with the new patient phone call. The call is not handled by the front desk person who is checking out patients, answering the phone and greeting patients. There are too many interruptions. The front desk person takes the call and transfers it to the new patient coordinator. The new patient coordinator has the uninterrupted time to establish the relationship. The new patient is invited to visit our web site, which reinforces what our practice is all about.

At the appointed time the NP coordinator is waiting for the NP. We can be pretty sure that the unfamiliar person walking in ten minutes before the appointment time is our new patient. Our NP coordinator starts off with something like – “ Hi, my name is Corine. You must be Sue Smith. Welcome to the practice. Let me give you a tour, and then we’ll sit down and talk in our conference room.”

After a “get to know you and what can we do for you” conversation, Corine will come down to my office and we will review her findings.

I will talk with the patient for about five minutes and we will start the digital photographic exam. The first shots I take are portraits in our studio. I use umbrellas and a hair light to get a professional quality portrait. I tell the patient that this shot is all about teeth. I want a big toothy smile. This lets the patient immediately know that we are different and professionals.

We then go into an operatory and take 14 intraoral shots. The patient is then introduced to my clinical assistant for radiographs. Corine and I then go into my office and discuss a treat plan while we review the photos. It is amazing how much more you see with excellent photographs versus a visual exam.

Corine then meets the patient in our conference room and reviews the images. She points out items of interest and allows patients to ask questions about their teeth. The patient sees their teeth like they never have before. They end up asking for dentistry so you don’t have to sell it! Corine presents a treatment plan based on their discussion and discusses finances and time frames. The patient is then told that the doctor will now do a clinical exam to confirm the findings and things may change a bit. My clinical exam rarely varies from the digital exam.

Periodontal conditions are assessed following this examination by our hygienist.

I have decreased my involvement in the new patient experience and substituted it with someone on my staff that has now created a relationship.

This gets back to the confrontational tolerance issue. The doctor will be more reluctant than a staff member to present the COMPLETE treatment plan. The staff member must believe in the doctor and should have a testimonial story to validate the message.

The doctor probably will not say that they do the most beautiful cosmetic cases, or that he is incredibly gentle. The devoted staff member can say this. If you toot your own horn, it will not come off as well as if a staff member did this.

Tags: Dental Diamonds · Digital Photography · New Patients · Practice Management · Uncategorized

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