This week’s post is part 2 of a four-part series on “Ten Rules for Presenting BIG Cases”. If you missed last week’s blog post, here’s Part I, where I covered the first two rules.
Now we’ll discuss rules 3 and 4…
RULE 3: The Exam – Don’t Scare the Patient Away!
I realized one day that I could easily scare a patient by using “big” and sometimes “scary” words during an exam, e.g. root canal, extraction, crown etc. Once they hear those terms we run the risk of driving them away from fear of needing those procedures. The patient may not return for the consultation visit because we terrified them during a “routine exam.”
So what I began doing was using only abbreviations and numbers during the exam. “Root canal” became “rct.” “Crown” became “cr,” “Oral Surgeon consult” became “os,” etc. I explained to them that in the interest of time, my assistant and I would be using some “shorthand terminology” to expedite the exam. I told them that I would explain everything I found and present their options and fees before we started any treatment.
After the exam, the patient would often times try to get me to give them a “ballpark idea” of what I found and how much it would cost. Do not take the bait in this trap! If you give them a price range or general idea of what is needed you run the risk of never seeing them again! It’s also the incorrect sequence! They have nothing to compare this fee with – i.e. what treatment it represents or why it is important!
With larger cases, tell them that you plan to study all the information you’ve gathered and you will cover it in detail, answer their questions, etc. at their free consultation appointment.
I’d actually schedule that appointment right then and there. Ask your assistant or scheduler when the next free consult appointment is and see if they can make it. Work out a good time and set it in stone.
Chances are a patient is more likely to keep the appointment with the doctor involved in scheduling it. Reassure them that there isn’t anything you found that can’t be fixed (if that is what you found to be true), but that you need to properly study their case first. Leaving them curious about what you will go over at the consultation often times helps to motivate them to return.
RULE 4: Treatment Plan Ideal Dentistry.
We aren’t going to have a big debate as to what constitutes a crown and what doesn’t. It’s too simple: if what you are looking at, according to an acceptable standard of care, would be a crown in your mouth, than it should be treatment planned for a crown for the patient. End of debate.
Don’t worry about how to present the case or how much it is going to cost while treatment planning. At this time you are just going to draw ideal treatment with no considerations.
And again, this must be treatment that you are confident that you can deliver.
Thank you for reading. Look out for Part III next week, where we’ll pick up again with RULE 5: Treatment Options: How to Present Them So Your Patient Understands (and picks what’s best)!