In case presentation, integrity is more than just telling the truth, it is providing patients with your honest opinion of what they need in a way that will be clear to them. By being forthright, open and willing to listen throughout that entire case presentation process, you can greatly improve the experience of your patient and the level of case acceptance.
The Meaning of Integrity
Many dental professionals do not feel comfortable with case presentation. While strategies such as scripting and visuals can help improve your confidence in presenting cases, nothing works better to improve your patients’ confidence like making integrity your priority. In case presentation, that means sitting with the patient and telling them exactly what you are seeing, thinking and feeling with care and compassion. This approach helps patients understand that your recommendations are in their best interest.
I have attended seminars in which speakers recommended that dentists disclose the least possible amount of information to the patient. I disagree; patients deserve and are able to handle full disclosure regarding their diagnosis and care.
It’s true that there are a number of scenarios that will require extra time for assessment, including different treatment options, treatment that needs to be completed before other treatment can be fully diagnosed and treatment plans that account for the patient’s finances. My recommendation for cases in which dentists don’t necessarily have all the answers right away is for the dentist to disclose to the patient their current findings, and then compile this information in a summary proposal. In some cases, it may be necessary for the patient to return for a follow-up consultation to allow the doctor time to review and plan the case completely.
Quick Tips on Case Acceptance
Below are several strategies you should know for effective case presentations:
- Case presentation should always take place in a relaxed environment. A rushed doctor comes across as an anxious doctor and sends signals to the patient that something isn’t right. In my own experience, I’ve noticed that case acceptance rates improve when doctors feel relaxed and have time to talk to each patient in a comfortable, open and caring manner.
- For new patients with higher treatments fees, it’s best to schedule a follow-up. For new patients, receiving a complex treatment diagnosis may be too much too soon. It’s best to bring new patients back for a follow-up consultation seven to 10 days later. When they return, they’ll be coming back to a familiar environment where they can be comfortable and engaged in hearing what is presented.
- It’s OK to ask patients if they have questions during your presentation. Encouraging patients to ask questions during your presentation gives them a chance to catch up with what's been presented, formulate their thoughts and dig deeper into information that they may need. This approach also helps patients feel included in the presentation as an equal participant in the decision-making process.
- Fees are very important. The total fee matters less than how the patient will be paying for it. Be sure to offer several financial options, giving patients the opportunity to make a choice that’s most convenient and in their best interest. Patients should know upfront if financing is available. Though it might require a dentist to give up a small percentage of their fee, offering financing or access to financing should be understood as a customer service rather than a last-ditch option. There are many patients who won’t take advantage of dental care because they cannot afford it or they believe they cannot afford it. Financing is a comfortable way for many people to make large purchases.
- Follow-up consultations can help close the deal. All too often practices follow a one-and-done mentality of presenting treatment and waiting to hear from the patient. By offering a second consultation, you give the patient an opportunity to think over what’s been presented, formulate any new questions and return to the practice to make a final decision.
People trust and respect those who give them the straight story. They expect it. By leading clear and honest conversations about diagnostic findings, treatment and finance options, practice leaders will strengthen their case presentations, grow the trust between themselves and their patients and, ultimately, increase their levels of case acceptance.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group Inc. To comment on this article, email email@example.com.