As you are emerging stronger toward your next normal, basic patient care has likely been taken care of at this point. It is time to start moving forward with managing major treatment in a method that falls in line with the next normal.
Previously, you may have had the luxury of presenting treatment to your patient and then having your treatment coordinator complete the transaction in a separate space. With physical distancing in place, it is very difficult to hand your patients over to the Treatment Coordinator for the heavy lifting. I would like to give you some quick tips to make your in-chair consultations more effective:
- With your mask and face shield in place it is harder than ever to connect with your patients. When speaking with them ensure that they are sitting up and you have pushed your chair back so that you are sitting knee to knee with your patient. This allows your patient to make a connection with you that is comfortable and relaxed for them and allows you to have eye contact as that is the only way you can connect with your PPE right now. Your loupes may need to move a bit.
- At your morning huddle for your hygiene patients, if you know that there is a treatment that you are going to speak with the patient about then let the hygienist know your plan and have the hygienist start educating the patient about the treatment before you come into the room. The verbiage for the hygienist could be “At our morning meeting Dr. ______________ mentioned that he/she is going to want to talk about the crown that he/she had previously diagnosed on your upper right. Are there any questions you may have before he comes in?” This will open the discussion up and the hygienist may be answer to some questions or concerns about treatment before you do the recall exam.
- If your treatment coordinator is not doing in person consults, then I will suggest that as much information as possible gets delivered in the treatment room. Leaving the details to be confirmed by a phone follow up will decrease the amount of treatment that you are delivering by a significant percentage.
- When delivering the diagnosis and educating the patient about the treatment, show them any intra oral pictures or radiographs (preferably panorex) that will support your words.
- After you have delivered the education about the treatment do a trial check in with the patient and ask, “does this make sense to you?” You will want to ask this to ensure that the patient is comprehending everything that you are saying. If they have a blank look on their face, then repeat the consequences and benefits of the treatment again. If they look engaged, then continue on with your discussion.
- As much as I don’t like a dentist delivering the fee for treatment, I will suggest that you know the approximate fee of the treatment in case the patient asks for the details. Only deliver this information IF the patient asks for it.
- The dreaded question of “will my insurance cover it?” Is likely usually answered by let’s send in a pre-determination and see what they say. This answer is the quickest way for your treatment to not get delivered. Your preferred answer would be “I am not sure if your insurance will help with some of the treatment or not, regardless of your insurance, your tooth needs treatment. We will work together with you to help any fees work with your household budget.”
- It is too pushy for you as the dentist to go ahead and book the treatment in the operatory. I would suggest that either your assistant or your administrator be the one to book the appointment once you have left the operatory.