I have worked with many dentists who have experienced the discomfort of advising patients to have treatment that never gets booked in.
“I’m just no good at sales.”
“I don’t want to push the patient. It seems unethical.”
“I don’t want to appear dollar-focused.”
The discomfort can also run deeper. When the fear of rejection is present, usually subconsciously, dentists can be hypersensitive in their response to patient objections. They can find themselves looking for cues in the patient that indicate possible rejection and focusing on these rather than simply addressing each patient query effectively as it is raised.
It is my suggestion that in these situations, dentists are seeking success in the wrong result. They are attributing success to the patient booking an appointment for their advised treatment.
I suggest this is wrong.
I suggest to dentists that when they can confidently say that they have informed, educated and supported their patients to an informed decision of their choosing, that is a success!
Removing attachment from the patients scheduling appointments keeps dentists focused on engaging their patients and helping them understand their oral condition, the ramifications if left untreated and their options for treatment.
Once our patients more clearly understand their condition and what could happen should they ignore it, they are more likely to seek solutions and be committed to scheduling in for treatment. In essence, focus on patient engagement and the appointment bookings will look after themselves.
The other substantial benefit that dentists experience when they shift their focus from a patient booking an appointment to leaving a patient educated and informed is authenticity: The knowledge and comfort of operating in accordance with the values that patients would like to consider are endemic to a health professional. That is, to behave with ‘integrity, truthfulness, dependability and compassion. To be competent, practise safely and be ethical and trustworthy’*.
* sourced from AHPRA’s Code of Conduct for health practitioners