Dr. Carter: Today we're with Dr. Donald Curtis, a member of the editorial board of PracticeUpdate Clinical Dentistry Channel and we're reviewing Dr. Frank Spear's e-course of the ADA 2020 Virtual Connect Conference, entitled Only the Strong Survive, Harness Your Strength.
Dr. Curtis, what types of questions might your receptionist ask the prospective new patients when trying to determine the length of the first appointment for that patient?
Dr. Curtis: Dr. Spear made a good point, that it is good for the front desk to do what is called "filtering", whereby they talk to the patient over the phone to gather information about what the patient wants in general. And that some patients are calling because they want to be seen for an isolated chief complaint, like a broken or symptomatic tooth. And others want that comprehensive "Mayo-type" approach. And in training your front desk to identify what the patients want is important so that you as a clinician could be more responsive and adaptable in meeting the patient's needs.
Dr. Carter: And then please give us your thoughts: in the era of COVID-19, how might a dentist actively cultivate fee-for-service patients?
Dr. Curtis: For sure there's a lot of competition for fee-for-service patients. Dr. Spear talked about ways and the needs to cultivate at least some fee-for-service patients. He felt that by carefully filtering from the front desk and listening to patients, that more fee-for-service patients could be incorporated into the practice. And that the treatments of fee-for-service patients are often more fulfilling. They're more involved and larger and patient reactions often times are more favorable, so that we should work towards having at least a portion of our patient pool as fee-for-service.
In cultivating fee-for-service patients, the literature shows patients most want in their health care providers confidence and empathy. And I think a couple of important steps, some of which Dr. Spear touched on was to have eye contact when you're interviewing the patient and to work to build a partnership with the patient, are keys. And that being an example of a partially dentulous patient who presents with concerns of not having the ability to chew or have the nutritional variety in their foods. You actively listen, keep eye contact, use shared decision-making to move them through the possible approaches of implants, a partial denture, a fixed bridge, and let them move the discussion towards what they're most interested in.
I think in summary, Dr. Spear talked about the importance of understanding what your patients want and adapting your approach to meet their functional and aesthetic needs. Dr. Spear is one of the most famous prosthodontist in the country and I always learn something from him, both in patient management and in clinical care.
Dr. Carter: Certainly an interesting segue from going from the totalitarian, authoritarian perspective of treatment planning for the patient to an active strategy where we're in partnership with our patients, learning and understanding what their needs and goals are, and establishing a dental care plan that's going to meet their needs as well as the dentist's ability to understand what is in the best interest to the patient.
Thank you very much for this informative conversation today, Dr. Curtis. I appreciate it very much.
Dr. Curtis: I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you.