Use Empathy to Boost Treatment Acceptance

Now more than ever patients need an understanding and empathetic dental team.  The pandemic has contributed to patients postponing dental treatment and appointments, which has led to larger treatment plans.  In addition, most practices are seeing an increasing number of patients with cracked tooth syndrome and gum disease.  Stress from the pandemic has taken a toll.

When patients sit in your operatories, they need the warmth and understanding of an empathetic dentist and team.  Make sure that patients feel welcomed.  Keep in mind that some patients still have apprehension about removing their mask to sit in the chair.  Take time to talk with patients about any concerns they have with returning to the dentist.  Listen carefully.  Then reassure patients by addressing their concerns and letting them know about the precautions the practice has taken during the pandemic and is still taking to ensure patients are safe.

Before discussing treatment needs, keep mind that patients are easily overwhelmed.  This means that treatment discussions need to provide opportunities for questions.  For example, when discussing the need for a bruxism device, a dentist can show empathy by stopping the conversation to ask the patient, “What have you noticed about your grinding habits over the last year?”  “What questions and concerns do you have about using a bruxism device at night?”

In addition, do not undervalue the importance of reassurance.  When overwhelmed patients see a large treatment plan, this can trigger inertia.  Make sure that patients know you will help them pace their treatment.  Guide patients to an option that gets them to schedule, even if it is just for one tooth in need of treatment.  Once you create movement and provide a positive experience, patients are more likely to schedule for additional treatment.

To boost treatment acceptance in your practice, place as much emphasis on empathy as you do strong clinical skills.  Make patients feel welcomed and comfortable during their visit, and they will schedule for needed treatment.

Mike Smith is the author of The Path to Greater Dental Practice Success. Please ask for a copy of the book to learn more about boosting treatment acceptance, strengthening phraseology, improving teamwork, and much more.

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