It is common in dental circles to hear the following gripes about patients who do not schedule for advised treatment:
“She said it’s too expensive, but look at the high-end car she drives.”
“That patient said they can’t afford to have an implant, but then they told me about their overseas trip they just booked.”
In a country where much of the population chooses to spend big bucks on cars, holidays and clothes, why do dental patients routinely avoid proceeding with recommended treatment choices?
The answer is: Your patients are confused and a confused mind always says No!
Confusion builds in patients when:
- they are given too many treatment options
- the elements of their treatment plan are not delivered in a structured way that makes sense to them
- the treatment plan presentation is rushed
- they are not given the chance to ask questions, or they are scared to ask questions because of fear of appearing ignorant
- there is a language barrier and understanding the communication is difficult
- they feel overwhelmed, anxious or self-conscious, so don’t listen to the details
- technical jargon and dental terms are used
- they don’t understand the VALUE of their oral health
Achieving a high case acceptance rate from your patients requires you to take responsibility for the impact of your communication.
Ask your team to help you develop and hone your communication skills. Research and role-play the way you speak (pace, tone, pronunciation), how to describe dental procedures (including benefits and drawbacks for each) and engaging with your patient (empathy, active listening, encouraging patient interaction).
An additional skill that I believe all dentists must develop is effectively communicating the physical, emotional and lifestyle impacts that oral health and dental procedures will have on their patients. This speaks directly to the patient’s often un-articulated concerns.
There is always the chance to further your skills of successful communication. I encourage you to continually research how to become better, how to reduce confusion and start turning some of your patients “No’s” into “Yes!”