When You Assume …

Current Issue , Practice Management

Editors Intro: Not everyone sees the dental sleep practice in the same way. For an understanding of the dental sleep practice, get back to basics and tell the real story.

by Chris Bez

For this issue, I found myself turning over ideas about what to write that would specifically suit the dental sleep medicine market and yet not be something that you’ve read many times before.

I thought about testimonials and how to use them to generate leads and turn patients into practice advocates on your behalf.

I thought about referral resources and how to tell them that you will communicate with them and you will care for their patients as if yours was an extension of their office and the quality of care they want their patients to have.

I thought about insurance and what you can say to the patients to let them know that in your office, their insurance issues are heard and assisted wherever their plans allow, so that you get them the maximum amount of coverage they need to offset the cost of the appliances and their treatment plan.

I thought about languaging and how important what is said from the moment your phone is answered to the moment you walk the patient to the front desk to pay for their appliance is to their experience of your office and their willingness to hit social media sites on your behalf to sing your praises.

I thought about the fact that you truly have multiple markets in the forms of referral sources, existing patients, consumers who have tried and failed at CPAP, and sleep partners of snorers and apnea sufferers who are out there – diagnosed or otherwise.

I found myself trying to couch advice in terms of the economic backdrop you are currently working with. I looked at generational divisions and categories, media in all its forms and delivery systems, preconceived notions that are held by many of the dental sleep medicine doctors I speak to with regularity.

Then I got up to clear my head and happened upon a close associate who is a social media and marketing guru in his own field. We got to talking and I shared the fact that I was having a bit of a challenge landing this one with something that I felt was really worth my reader’s time to consider. In the course of the conversation, he asked me a few questions and then simply looked at me and grinned. You know that look – the one that someone gives you when they know what they’re about to say makes infinite sense and it is more obvious than the proverbial nose on your face.

He said simply, “When you get too close to it, you think everyone sees it the same way.” He went on to explain that because of what you know about dental sleep medicine, you assume that others “get it.” He was adamant that non-dental sleep industry people simply don’t understand the real facts about what happens when you don’t sleep vs. what happens when you do. Even more so, that understanding what is at risk isn’t important until you are “in it.” Once you find yourself there, understanding that there is a dental sleep medicine treatment option that is available nowhere else – is one big, fat, important, fact to know. He suggested that unless you’ve been stopped behind someone in the airport going through security, the typical patient has no idea of what a pain it is to get through with your CPAP. That looking like the elephant man while wearing a mask is definitely not for the esthetically conscious and, while he went on for a bit more emphasizing how little people know overall about oral appliance therapy, it basically amounted to this: not everyone understands and knows about OSA and treatment options, and no matter how or where you deliver that message, every once in a while, we all have to get back to basics and tell the real story – the whole story and be really, really clear about it. I thought about what he said – and I have to agree.

Effective and appropriate marketing and understanding of the sleep practice involves a multi-faceted approach to your patients. Check out another interesting article by Chris Bez, “Marketing in the Era of #MeToo.”