Guide your patient through these nine dental treatment plan phases
What do your patients ask you most often? If they are like most patients, they want to know what the dental treatment plan phases are going to be. Understandable – we all like to know what the future holds. A multi-phase treatment plan is an investment in both time and money for your patients, so it’s only natural that they would want to know what to expect.
Here’s the catch, though. As a dentist, you know from experience what the dental treatment plan phases are, and you understand why each phase is important. When we know and understand something so intimately, it can be hard to effectively share that information.
Yes, that is a bit counterintuitive, but think about a mechanic trying to explain how a transmission works, and you get the idea. It can be tough to explain something that we know so well we don’t even have to think about it.
Still, one of the skills that makes your practice so popular and customer-service oriented is your ability to help patients understand the details. Take your patients through these nine steps, so they understand the projected dental treatment plan phases, and why they are so important. Besides, informed patients are more likely to follow through with a treatment plan.
9 dental treatment plan phases your patients need to understand
The diagnosis is straightforward, and your patients will expect this. In fact, for patients experiencing dental pain, they may be looking for a diagnosis when they make an appointment with you. Pain has a tendency to make us look for solutions. Surprisingly, though, there are patients who will accept a treatment plan without truly understanding what it means. This only leads to confusion and misunderstanding. The diagnosis is your one-stop shopping for making the entire treatment plan a good experience for your patients (and for you, by default).
Right there with the diagnosis is education. It’s not enough to tell a patient they have cracks in an old filling and will need a root canal soon. Why do cracks in a filling lead to a root canal? For that matter, why are there cracks in this specific filling? If you don’t answer these questions, there is a world of bad information out there that will answer the questions for you. Is that what you want?
With most dental treatment plans, you have options – even if one option is to do nothing. You can certainly suggest one option over another as long as you explain why, but an educated clientele is part of the landscape now. Offering options and expected prognoses helps a patient feel more in control of their dental care, which leads to a higher likelihood that they will follow through with a treatment plan.
Time to consider
If your dental treatment plan includes options, most patients will need time to consider. Be sure to let them know that they do have time, but also include a timeline for them. Some treatments are more time sensitive than others, and your patients will still need time to consider the options in most cases.
Follow up answers
Some procedures can be a scary for patients. Be sure they know that your dental treatment plan phases include time for questions and answers, whether in person or on the phone if they have questions after they leave.
While it seems obvious that scheduling is part of a treatment plan, it might not seem so apparent to your patients, especially if they require a plan that will take multiple visits. When your patients know how long a treatment plan takes, they feel like an informed participant in the process.
You’ve communicated the dental treatment plan phases with your patient up until the moment they are in your chair. This is a good time to revisit the plan with them. Remind them why they are here, and what outcome they can expect.
If you have sufficiently communicated with your patients up to this point, they are already anticipating follow-up care if it is needed. Again, though, whether it’s a visit to your dental assistant or a regular cleaning, communicating this is a significant step in making sure the entire treatment plan is completed.
This can be the make or break step in dental treatment plan phases. In part, because this last phase is entirely dependent on your patient’s follow through. It’s your job as a dentist to help your patients understand how important maintenance is. Of course, this probably comes naturally to everyone in your office, from hygienists reminding patients to brush and floss to the front office staff scheduling their next appointment.
How do you discuss dental treatment plan phases to your patients? Is there something you would add to this list? Share your ideas in the comments.