There are a lot of strategies a dental office can employ to be successful, but there is one thing that all successful offices have in common; successful dental offices have great patient treatment acceptance. You can’t be successful as a dental office if patients are constantly turning down treatment options or delaying care.
Not surprisingly, patient treatment acceptance, (often called patient case acceptance), has been a popular topic for decades. Thousands of ideas, processes, and products are constantly being introduced to help offices improve the rate at which their patients accept prescribed treatment. We sat down with Debra Engelhardt-Nash, a professional consultant, speaker, author, and dental team member to discuss this issue. Debra provided one great tip that all dental teams, regardless of size or location, need to employ; validate the doctor and the treatment plan proposed.
Validating the Doctor and Treatment Plan
Debra comments that the most pivotal step that a patient needs to take before accepting the treatment plan is to have a firmly established belief that the doctor knows what is best for them. Put simply, they need to trust their dentist. Trust what they say. Trust that they are looking out for the patient, and not just their own profit margins. If patients truly trust their dentist, then the rest of the obstacles that come up can be tackled, such as cost, time, fear, etc.
So how do you get the patient to trust the doctor? Debra explained it best:
Most doctors don’t walk into an operatory, extolling his or her own virtues. They don’t come in and say, I am so great. And you’re so lucky to be here. And most of them have a beautiful humility.
So if the Dentist is not talking about their virtues, whose responsibility is it?
The people who are responsible for talking about the qualities of the doctor, the qualities of the practice, the character of the practitioner, is the team; the office manager, the business coordinator, the scheduling coordinator, the dental assistant, the hygienist. We have a responsibility to validate the doctor’s treatment.
This communication between patient and team, often coined as remote from the doctor’s presence, is a key role of the entire dental team. While each team member has many roles and responsibilities, the team as a whole has the main responsibility to help the patient understand that they are in caring hands and that the practitioner has integrity and will always prescribe what is best for them.
How Dental Teams Increase Patient-Doctor Trust
A practical way to increase patients’ trust in the dentist is to have each team member share their experience with the doctor. It is as simple as saying:
I have worked for Dr. White for over 10 years and I really can speak to his integrity and his strength of character in all of my years. I can assure you that the doctor is making the best recommendations that [he] thinks will be in your best interest and give you the best dental health, the best dental appearance, and the best experience that you’ll have in an office.
Imagine the impact this has on the patient if they hear validation of the dentist multiple times from every team member, from the scheduling coordinator to the dental assistant. This repetition and consistency speak volumes and build a firm foundation of trust.
This becomes especially important with new patients. One thing that Debra always advises to practices she coaches is that when a new patient calls in, ask the patient if you can take a few moments to tell them about the doctor. Planting a seed of trust with new patients that you can further grow and reinforce with each team member they interact with throughout their visit.
While there are many other tips on how to increase patient treatment acceptance, Debra’s top tip is to validate the doctor.
To validate the doctor, to create the perception of quality remote from doctor’s presence to make sure, let the patient know they are, they’re gonna be receiving quality care and their investment is gonna be very well spent.