Today I want to talk to you about your existing patients that are seeing you on a regular basis and still have dentistry that needs to be done.
I feel like it's easier for practices when they have a new patient come in with dental needs to be very intentional about having conversations with the patient, and really guiding them toward getting healthy.
Once that patient becomes an existing patient, and they've come in several times and declined treatment, I’ve noticed that practices tend to almost minimize the need the more time that goes on.
When I ask dental teams about this, they really don't know what to say, but:
- This patient isn't moving forward.
- The patient has given a reason why they aren’t accepting treatment (financial, it’s not bothering them, they’ll get it fixed when it starts hurting, etc.).
The team really doesn't feel like it helps to bring the pending treatment plan up to the patient anymore.
- At their next recall appointment, tackle this issue head on with the doctor taking the lead.
- Set your patient up in the chair.
- Sit eye to eye, knee to knee with the patient.
- Say, “Help me understand your hesitation to move forward with this treatment. I'm concerned because ______________."
- Fill in the blank as to why you're concerned about the tooth or area.
- Letting your patient know why you're concerned in this way will really allow them to open up and share with you what is holding them back from moving forward with the treatment.
- Then you can help guide them to a solution or something that will help them get healthy.
Doctors: This is a conversation that I believe you should be having with your patients personally, because the patient really trusts you and you have the most influence with the patient than anyone else in the practice.
The next time you have someone on your schedule and you talk about it in morning huddle and say, “This patient is not going to move forward, they've already told us no.” Try this technique to really get to the core of what is holding them back so you can work together to find a solution.