The Truth About Nurturing Patient Relationships

When it comes to nurturing your patients over time to accept dentistry, it is critical you don’t make excuses for your lack of completely treatment planning them in the first place.

I hear all the time that Doctors like to start with one thing to work on first to build some trust up and then they do something else and something else.  Or they talk to patients in hygiene and let them wait a few cycles (or a few years) until the patient is finally ready.

And all of that could work and, in some cases, can be effective.  However, it is not a proactive (nor straightforward) strategy that can be counted on to deliver treatment.  You need to be more deliberate and transparent to nurture patients to higher case acceptance over time.

Really, this approach simply justifies the absence a controllable system designed to cultivate comprehensive dentistry and complete case acceptance in an expedited way.

Here’s what I know: the doctors and teams that don’t delay going all in on their patients do a lot more dentistry, hit bigger goals, and help more patients get healthy – and not once in a while, every single month.  The math doesn’t lie.

Others that piecemeal through treatment plans and allow for trickle-in dentistry maintain low average values for patient visits, treatment plan totals, and patients long term.

Furthermore, there is a risk that it could undermined your trust as much if not more so than it bolsters it.  Patients might be led to think, “Why didn’t you see that last time?” or “How long has this been going?” or “You always find something wrong.”

Let’s look at differently… don’t think of nurturing as strategy, instead think of truth-telling as a principle.  Be honest and reveal everything upfront because it’s the right thing to do and is part of your culture instead of adhering to the falsehood that it takes time to build trust with patients before they will do any meaningful dentistry.

Trust can be built very rapidly.  Think about the major purchases of life and how fast those decisions are made.  The same condensed timeframe can be achieved in your practice.

Work on accelerated nurturing and trust building by never letting a visit go by that you don’t re-engage the patient in their goals, their health, the state of their mouth, and the opportunities for them to not just improve it but to reach the state of ideal.

It doesn’t take long to build trust and nurture if you are focused on doing what’s best for your patients.

Optimal, proactive, preventative, and complete health has more value the faster you arrive at it, not the longer it takes and certainly the more you delay or hesitate.

Here’s the big secret to success that is often unspoken: whatever room for error you give yourself, you’ll take it.  Just like the work filling the time allowed for it.  Patient trust will take as long as you let it and it has nothing to do with the patient.  The more passive and timid you are (disguised as giving patients time to get comfortable), the longer it will take.

Instead, ask yourself what you can be doing in order to create an engaging experience for your patients that grows their involvement faster, has them take ownership over their health, and speeds up both their trust with you and their decision on treatment.

That final decision comes back to their need, want, and deserve level of the outcome the dentistry will provide.  We’ll touch on this next week.  

For now, my challenge to you is if you want to build trust, then I would focus on one thing that does that most: telling the truth.  Then you can encourage and motivate your patients to move forward as quickly as possible to receive the health benefits as fast as they can.  That’s how you build long-term patient relationships.

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