How To Influence Your Patients’ Decisions About Dentistry – Part 1

Ah, isn’t this the question of the day.  If only everyone said yes to what you know they deserve.  Imagine if more patients gave you the opportunity to do what you are best at: deliver total optimal health in context of what you know to be in their best interest.

One thing is for sure, provided you didn’t spend all the money, you’d have 10x as much as you do now and you’d have had it in half the time you’ve worked so far in your career.

That elusive “Yes” on Total Comprehensive Dentistry that moves beyond just fixing problems to delivering the state of ideal for their health, their mouth, their smile, their ‘everything.’  Unless you would rather be cramming patients in like sardines and building a volume based wal-mart style where you get as many as you can in the door for as little dentistry as you can get away with by operating at a standard far lower than you’d really like.

Hey, you better believe there are people who want that, as crazy as it sounds.  They sure aren’t hanging around here with us in our place.

We aren’t here to judge.  Besides, a lot of those type of places are the reason why so many patients come to you – because they don’t want that either.

If we want to actually create a culture of comprehensive dentistry and one in which it’s not just you who wants it – meaning that the patient wants it too – what then do we have to do to take control over and actually influence your patients to make great decisions for themselves.

We can talk about all the strategies of diagnosing in the world and most doctors would say they are “comprehensive.”  Yet, if you really look at their average visit value of what patients are actually doing while they are in their practice, they aren’t fixing full mouths at a time.

There are others who are in denial of the real problem or afraid to admit their patients aren’t saying yes to their treatment plans in totality.  They’ll claim they are doing “quadrant dentistry” or they like to do things in “phases” so they don’t overwhelm the patient.

Look, you are the doctor.  You do what you want.  But you can’t expect to grow beyond the value of the size, increments, compartments of dentistry you put in your schedule.  If you break it down, then you are limiting yourself.

Rest assured every doctor is doing less ‘complete’ dentistry than they tell you or talk about.  The only way is to let the numbers do the talking (exactly what we went through a couple weeks ago right here), by following the flow of treatment from diagnosis down through the actual delivering of the dentistry in the schedule.

Now we are moving beyond the diagnosis to another practice-multiplier: the patients’ actual decisions.  We call it getting more yeses – specifically on comprehensive dentistry – defined by COMPLETE CASE ACCEPTANCE.  Meaning that the patient said yes to the actual treatment plan in totality.

My first victory here for you would be to get you to believe and accept that you and your team actually do have control over this.  You are not at the mercy of your patients if you don’t want to be.  This is something you control.

We are going with an overview today and then dive deeper into the psychology, verbiage, experience, and interaction.  Finally, culminating with the decision control measures that can be made with your patients to help facilitate their positive agreement, commitment, and investment in total comprehensive dentistry.

Of course, you can follow things I’ve shared before… my need-want-deserve formula and flow of patient engagement that helps the patients take responsibility for their health.

However, let’s step back and look at the overview of what has to happen for a patient to be in the mindset and position to accept your diagnosis and optimal treatment plan as their pathway to health.

In simple terms, we start with the premise that every person would make a good decision for themselves if they believed in the value of the outcome and that it is necessary for them (meaning they are compelled more to want it than to stay the way they are).

Obviously, there are some we just won’t win over and there are some that absolutely cannot possibly find, get, make the investment.  However, those two segments of people are in the minority and you must believe that.  If you want to do well with this, you have to always have the expectation that every person will say yes if you do your best in showing them why it is important and that they are doing themselves a disservice to be living without the life changing dentistry that you can provide.

For some people it will be an emotional appeal and for some a very logistical one.  For all people it will be important that they pass through, not always blatantly and obviously to them, these four core elements of understanding if we want to influence their decision and get to a yes.

We want to make their existing reality demonstratively painful in the sense of showing them that they are lacking something they deserve, that where they are right now could be better.

Sometimes the patient is already in physical pain and they are compelled to make a change because that’s what motivated them to come in for in the first place.  Other times we have to do the heavy lifting to showcase to them their current state of health is below where it should be and below where they deserve it to be.

Based on that, we have to compare and contrast to the ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ state (or however you are defining ‘healthy’).  In doing this you must wrap in the benefits of moving from their current reality to the state of ideal of optimal health and why it matters so much.

In this case, you also can move into the consequences of staying on their path versus them moving over to your pathway towards health.

Depending on the patients’ initial motivation and actual state of their mouths (as well as the practice philosophy and Doctor’s preference), sometimes you can go over “state of ideal” before you compare to the patients’ mouths and other times vice versa.

From there comes the magic of stating what OTHER patients that have been in their situation have done and how they have benefited from it.  You want to express proof of concept and use other patients as the example of the real life benefits that have been achieved, which is what they have to look forward to.  Then depending on the person and your approach, you want to draw the patient into that by asking them to share how that would make them feel and what their life would be like if they were at a state of optimal health in the way that you’ve described. 

Simple, right?

Well, often times we make it harder than it is.  Of course, there is a whole lot that goes into every step and every part from phone call to welcome process to interview to the clinical experience to the treatment plan presentation to the follow up on the back end.

All you need to remember – for every team member and doctor – when it comes down to your engagement with patients and moving them forward with their decisions…

The patients’ current reality, the reality they deserve, and how they will benefit from it.  

Here’s the crazy part… all you have to do is tell them the truth.  You can elaborate as to why it doesn’t make logical, responsible, appropriate sense for anyone to stay in the state they are in today because doing nothing leads to something.  You don’t just stay the same where you are.  Something is taking you in the opposite direction of where you want to go – even if you are okay with the present state of your health.

We’ll save this for next week, but of course there are objections patients make and excuses for why greater case acceptance is not achieved… money, time, pain, fear, age, insurance, blah blah blah.  If handled properly, especially when the above process is done effectively, you can eliminate all of them.

This ought to get you started with some powerful discussions and assessments by looking at how you convey what you feel is important to your patients.  Focus on how it comes across to them, how you get them involved, and how you use the undeniable facts to help walk your patients into an obvious and comfortable (even excited) decision for themselves to say yes to comprehensive dentistry.

More next week…

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