Here at Inspired Hygiene we talk with many dentists and dental professionals each week. One question we hear a lot is ‘How do I get my patients to value the treatment we recommend?’ Or, ‘How can my hygiene team better build value for the hygiene visit?’
As you’ve heard me say many times before, it all starts with YOU. First and foremost, what value do YOU place in the care you recommend?
Ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I think is the most important thing about the hygiene visit?
- What is my obligation to my patient?
- What can I do for/with my patient that will help them save time and/or improve their health and personal confidence?
If you think the most important part of the hygiene visit is the ‘cleaning’ than that’s the same value the patient will have. And it may be hard to convince them otherwise until something changes in how what you DO and SAY during the visit. If you think of the hygiene visit as a dental health evaluation visit or a periodontal therapy visit or a dental health maintenance visit, don’t you think that has stronger implications of VALUE?
Yes, words make a difference and so do actions. If the patient sits in the chair and you go through the motions of scale, polish, chat and then doc comes in a says ‘Everything looks good’ there may not be much value to them in the appointment. The patient will be more likely to delay or cancel future treatment if anything else gets in the way (money, time, fear). When YOU see the value of digging deeper into their medical and dental history and really talking about their health, they will see the value too.
Here are a few tips for increasing the amount of value your patients place in the hygiene visit:
1-Make it all about THEM. I’m going to be very straightforward here. The hygiene visit is not the time to take advantage of a captive audience and spend 20minutes talking about your personal life. The primary focus is on the patient. If you’re working to build a relationship, ask about them and their interests. Ask about their priorities for todays visit and do all you can to see they are met.
2-Tie in their Risk Factors. This is really the same as #1 but more specific. Ask specifically how they are managing their diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels or other dental/health concerns. As you are scaling and polishing, talk to them about the latest oral-systemic link article you read about their condition or a recent CE program you attended that made you think of them. Remember, it’s all about THEM. This is a great way to tie in product/treatment recommendations.
‘John, I notice you have a lot of stain this time. Have you changed your Sonicare head lately? That would really help you keep the stain and tartar down between your visits with me.’
‘Mary, I see I recorded your HbA1c last time as 7.5 and today you said it was at 7 at your last visit. Even that small change makes a big difference in your health. I also notice that your gums look great and there’s very little bleeding. I just read an article about diabetes and these two things are related. This is great news for you! Keep up the good work and we’re going to check your gums again in 3 months when I see you.”
3-Tell your patients what you’re doing. Even if you don’t use an adjunct technology for oral cancer detection, TELL your patients when you’re doing a visual oral cancer screening. When you’re about to take bitewings, TELL them you and doc will be looking around all the crown margins to be sure there’s not decay starting.
4-Give them a very clear ‘next step’. Again, your patients will often follow your lead on the value of the next visit AND the sense of urgency to move forward. Recently, I was working with a team and one of the hygienists’ frustrations was that they would tee up restorative treatment for the doctor and then he would say to the patient ‘You may want to think about getting this done sometime this year’. How vague is that. His intention was not to pressure the patient but they need some sense of urgency to move forward. It’s a rare patient that wants to do dental work sooner than the dentist recommends. Be very clear on what the next step is and present financial arrangements and a clear plan for the next visit. If the next appointment is for their prophy in 6 months than remind them that you’ll be checking those crown margins again or that you’ll be evaluating how well that Sonicare is keeping the stain down.
Be specific and make it personal. That creates value!