Your patients don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Your team doesn’t, either! Leading your patient to know more about what you know while you learn about them is what Pride Institute believes is the best way to form a long-term relationship based on value, commitment, and accountability. My team gets asked “How?” by dentists all the time.
One of my favorite quotes that helps to definitively answer that question is:
“Patients carry their OWN DOCTOR inside. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the physician who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.” Albert Schweitzer
Since patients may not know what the best course of treatment is, it’s important to explain the pathways and options to them from a perspective that’s not mystifyingly clinical, nor just fact-based. Remember that every patient satisfaction survey that has been done in the medical/dental world highlights the same reasons that patients say no to treatment, or no show or cancel, or fail to follow through with their care:
- They don’t feel listened to!
- They don’t understand how and why we are treating them.
- Since they don’t understand what we are doing, or why, they think it’s too expensive or unnecessary.
- Therefore, they choose other ways to spend their time, money and energy
In this era of You Tube videos, Wikipedia, and WebMD, it is safe to assume that your new patients may have done some online research before picking up the phone. This tends to confuse them more and it definitely does not mean that they fully understand sleep issues. Nor do they understand the breadth and scope of potential sleep solutions! Therefore, the ultimate goal of every new patient interaction is to educate, motivate and help them find their own reasons to value care.
Co-diagnostic partnerships grow when potential patients learn what questions to ask and then hear better answers than they can find on their own, which makes all the difference! The following is a list of key questions that we hope your educated patients want answers to. To train your patients in advance of their first appointment, these can be included on your website on a custom FAQ tab, in a mailed or virtual welcome packet or in marketing materials to be used in coordination with your allied health care community. Use them well and build commitment!
In order to get the most from your new patient evaluation, please consider your thoughts about these questions. Sharing this with your dentist/sleep solution provider will be a great start. Please add any other questions that will help us discover how we can best work together.
- What are my short and long term goals for my oral health/overall health?
- What do I currently do to maintain my health? (Exercise, medications, etc.)
- What is my chief concern, issue or problem that led me to make this appointment?
- What in my life is worse because of this problem?
- Was I referred by another medical/dental professional? And if yes – what did they want me to learn?
- What symptoms am I experiencing and what’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- How does this issue/problem affect my current and future health or life-style needs?
- What research or advice have I already gotten on this issue/problem?
- What are all the options for treating my symptoms/problem? What treatments are available?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- Of the treatment choices I know, this is the one I think so far would be best for me.
- What obstacles or challenges could get in the way of getting the best results from this treatment?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- I have other life-stress or issues that may be contributing to the issue, does this effect treatment?
- Should I see only a certified specialist?
- What will my responsibilities be, in order to derive the longest term benefit from treatment? What about home-care?
- Is there an upper limit to what I’m willing to do to solve my problems? Is there an upper limit to what I’m willing to pay for the treatment that could solve them?
- What is the cost for the ideal treatment and does your team work with patients to help make the treatment affordable?
- Does your team work with patients to understand their insurance benefits, so that it can help cover the cost of care?
- Are there any brochures, videos or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What in my life will be better when my problem is solved?
An educated patient will want to do what you want them to do. They will rise above finance, insurance and scheduling obstacles to get the treatment they deserve and desire. So, if you want better patient conversion and retention… train your patient and help them connect to their internal Doctor!