“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”-Stephen Covey
Perhaps the best way to increase your case acceptance and do more ideal dentistry is to slow down your new patient appointment and really spend some time getting to know your new patient. Unless your new patient is a three-year old pediatric patient, every patient has a dental ‘story’. Taking the time to get to know their story and more importantly, their desired future regarding their dental health will greatly improve your effectiveness when presenting the treatment plan.
Our Treatment Coordinator starts the new patient experience with a tour of our office (see blog post below). Next she takes a series of six digital photos (see Aug. 22 blog post). As Karle is taking these photos, she asks a short series of questions.
Here are those questions:
Treatment Coordinator: “I am going to take some photos of your teeth. The photos are a great way for you and Dr. to see things that you cannot see with the naked eye. We always like to get to know our patients as people before we get to know your teeth, so I’d like to ask you some questions as I am taking these photos.
We call you a new patient because you are new to us. However, you have been to other dental offices before. Have you had much dental treatment other than having your teeth cleaned?
Tell me about your past experiences with your dental office.
Is there anything that you really liked about past dental visits? If so, we want to make sure we repeat that for you!
How about anything that you didn’t like? If you don’t like something we want to know about it!
We know that dental health, like overall health can be influenced by your genetic background. Do you know much about the dental health of your parents……grandparents…..other family members?
Speaking or your teeth, on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being absolutely perfect, how would you rate the health and appearance of your teeth and gums?
I see here on your health history form that you are nice and healthy. I’d like to know more about the general health of your family since we now know that the health of your teeth and gums has a direct relationship with your overall health. Among your family members is there any history of:
- Heart Disease
- Early-term Birth
Earlier you rated the health and appearance of your teeth as a ____________. What would need to change for that to be a 10?”
This interview provides Karle with an absolute wealth of information that she can convey to the Dr. This information is extremely useful for Dr. Nielson when he co-develops a treatment plan with the patient to help them achieve the best possible oral health. Consider using this new patient interview format in your practice as a way to understand each patient’s unique history and goals for their dental future. Keep Smiling!