April 16, 2018
I’ve spent the last four or five posts discussing the need for successful practices to integrate the process of scheduling more second visit treatment consultations as a surefire way to gain greater case acceptance. And I’ve tried to be very specific in stating that not all consultations are created equal. Precipitating event consults are handled one way, and cosmetic consults are handled altogether differently. I’d like to finish up this series by describing a third type of consult. This is used for presenting treatment plan choices to a new patient to the practice.
The scenario that I advise is for the doctor to greet the new patient in the Hygiene room when that patient has just been seated. This requires careful attention to detail and timing and is reinforced at the morning huddle. Introduce yourself – recognize a referral source – but do not perform any type of clinical exam at this time. Just a quick hello before the patient is put back into a reclining position. You announce you’ll be back to perform an exam when the hygienist finishes the necessary x-rays and the prophy is completed. You have no idea at this point whether the patient will need comprehensive treatment or minimal or no treatment.
If it turns out that there is little or no dentistry to be performed for this patient, a 10 to 15 minute exam by the doctor is usually sufficient. But if that new patient has necessary dentistry that would involve multiple appointments, then that patient should be scheduled for a complimentary 30 to 45 minute visit with the doctor to discuss treatment options. At that visit there will be a conversation regarding the timing of the treatment, the approximate cost of the treatment, and how best to maximize dental insurance benefits. For sure you need to ask the patient about their expectations. Do they have any fears or reservations. Staging treatment is most appreciated by the patient. You have to be very cognizant of not overwhelming the patient with a huge treatment plan.
The complimentary second visit for these new patients should ideally be scheduled within a week after their initial visit with the hygienist. This gives the doctor ample time to price out all the treatment options and investigate dental insurance benefits. It is impossible to do this kind of research at that initial visit. And the second visit is a nice opportunity for the doctor to develop a solid relationship with the patient and provide quality one-on-one personal time.
The moral of the story is to never forget the value of a complementary second visit. These are low pressure presentations in a relaxed atmosphere. Setting up these time blocks where you can give your individual attention to a patient with multiple dental needs will pay huge dividends in the form of the acceptance of quadrant and arch dentistry.
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