I could have titled this as another series in our “Awareness” discussions because it really is circling back to the Patient part of Awareness with you taking the lead and being a guide so the patient can discover what’s possible.
Instead, we are shifting gears while picking up from last week. If you participated in last week’s Huddle, you did some personal self-reflection and some future perspective about your life and what’s important to you.
Most people just don’t think very much about the future or really even about themselves. Then there are those other people that only think about themselves and never consider at all the implications they have on others, but that’s a topic for another time.
Lastly, there are others who always think about the past. They are really living backwards in what’s happened instead of deciding what to make happen next.
Here’s what we can all agree to, generally speaking, about patients. They do not think about the future at all, at least when it comes to dentistry and their oral health, nor do they put much effort into thinking about themselves and what is possible for their lives.
This may be the best way to describe your greatest responsibility. I often call it looking into the crystal ball and helping your patients see the long-term implications of their health.
If more patients did this (instead of just wanting to get out of the chair as fast as possible) and took a firmer grasp of their health in the future by understanding both the benefits and consequences, then they would accept a lot more treatment that they deserve.
So, while there is “awareness” of today, it is important you create awareness of the future – very similar to the questions I asked you last week.
And that is the key… questions, questions, questions.
Every single week, we are talking about or I am asking you questions. That is really the best approach for your patients and the only way to get them involved. You want them to be talking, responding, and engaging with you.
This is why you have to be so mindful not to get caught up into conversations that have nothing to do with dentistry and then lose track of time or miss out on the opportunity to discuss their health.
Of course, we want friendly conversation and we want you to show an interest in the patient. You could build rapport throughout the entire visit talking nothing about dentistry and then just straight to the interjection about why they are there. The problem is, that doesn’t give the patients enough time to process any real information in order to make significant decisions. Sure, you will get yeses just out of trust and rapport for low hanging fruit but you’ll miss the cultivation of life-changing dentistry. That is unless you are purposeful and deliberate with what you are doing as you draw the patient into health-related discussions.
Here’s my biggest point today for you to discuss and ponder (then next week we’ll walk through some examples) …
Focus on the future.
Get your patients to focus on the future. Don’t just talk about what you see, talk about what you use to see or what you should be seeing or what you want to see or what you will see eventually. You can build layers in the patients’ minds of their health and challenge them to share with you what they want to see happen. You will enable them to develop their goals and vision for their health.
I’d like you to come up with your questions for your patients and talk through as a team how you get them involved. Come up with better approaches you can use to get the patient to see the future and want something better than what they have now. This is how you move them from just staying on the road they are on versus them desiring more for their health, mouth, and smile.
The possibilities are endless to help your patients, each in different ways, but they won’t happen on their own. You can’t wait for them to jump up and volunteer because they don’t know what lies ahead. However, you do and you can share with them what the future holds. That is, I say, your greatest responsibility with every patient every time.