There are three distinct skill sets that a dentist must master if their practice is to achieve full potential. #1) The dentist must have outstanding clinical skills. #2) The dentist must master the business of dentistry. #3) The dentist must have command of the behavioral side of dentistry. Each of these topics deserves considerable study and focus. This blog post will address a subset within the behavioral side of dentistry; namely, a proven case presentation system to guide more patients to accept ideal treatment.
I am a huge advocate of ‘systems’ within a dental practice because when you have a system in place you can repeat it to achieve predictable results. Below is a system to present treatment recommendations that will help more patients accept ideal care. This system goes by the acronym P.A.S.T.I., and the letters stand for, Problem, Answer, Source, Timing, and Investment. Let me explain.
You start by describing the problem that the patient has using terms that a lay person can understand. For example, “Mary, after reviewing the x-rays and the photos, it looks like you have some decay under those fillings on that tooth on the upper left. The decay is causing that tooth to be sensitive.”
Now describe in simple terms how you can correct that problem. Be sure and include the benefits of treatment when describing the solution. “When the decay is large like it is in your tooth, I recommend removing the decay and old fillings and restoring the tooth with a crown. The crown will look great, eliminate the sensitivity that you have been feeling and make the tooth strong again.”
The ‘source’ part of the acronym is making it clear to the patient that your office is the right source to have this treatment done. Positioning your practice as the source of the recommended treatment can be reinforced by good verbal skills as well as many other factors, such as the way your office is decorated, the content of your website, and the confidence shown by the dentist and team members. Good verbal skills might sound like this; Dental Assistant: “Mary, we use the best materials and a great dental lab. You’ll be thrilled with the result.”
Timing is answering the question, “When should I do this?” Sometimes the answer to this question is obvious. For example, if the patient is in pain you would recommend doing the recommended treatment as soon as possible to eliminate the pain. However, often the tooth is asymptomatic and the patient requires guidance to move forward. Here are some useful verbal skills: “Mary, I would recommend having that treatment completed soon to stop the condition from getting any worse.”
Investment answers the question, “How much is this going to cost?” To complete the presentation process you might say something like this, “Mary, I will make sure that Linda, our financial coordinator, goes over all the details, like fees, insurance, and scheduling with you before you leave our office today. Linda is an expert at these details. Do you have any questions for me about the treatment I have recommended?”
Think of the P.A.S.T.I. method as a very useful structure to follow when presenting treatment recommendations. Not only is each detail important to cover, but the order that you follow is extremely important. The investment question (How much?) must be answered last so that the patient understands the other details before finding out how much it costs. Don’t be thrown off when patients ask questions out of order. It happens all the time! If the patient asks, “How much?”, you can politely deflect the question by saying, “That’s a great question Mary, I’ll make sure we answer that for you before you leave today.” Then bring the conversation back into the proper order by saying something like, “Let me show you what is goin on with that tooth.”
The really cool thing about mastering the P.A.S.T.I. case presentation method is that once you have mastered the structure and sequence of this format, you can focus on connecting with your patient so that you communicate most effectively with every patient. An important side benefit of mastering the P.A.S.T.I. method is the confidence that you project as you are presenting your recommendations. Confidence is a huge element of case acceptance! Keep Smiling!