Using Conversation to Guide Patients

By | December 20, 2013

Conversation with a patientToday is another full day of CE at the 27th New Dentist Conference and one of the speakers is Dr. Paul Homoly who is presenting a course on guiding patients towards good dental health decisions.

Earlier this year ADA New Dentist News spoke with Dr. Homoly about his approach for using conversation to gain case acceptance. Here are his suggestions for getting the conversation started as they appeared in ADA New Dentist News:

“When you first meet with a new patient, you want to have a conversation that is as comfortable as possible,” explains Dr. Homoly, “and for the patient, reclining back under a bright light isn’t very comfortable.”

If you have a conference space or a private office, that may be a more relaxed conversational setting. If you are pressed for space, go ahead and have the conversation in the operatory, but hold off on the bib and bright light and adjust the chair so the patient can see you eye-to-eye without being distracted by a jumble of handpiece hoses.

Instead of jumping in with your philosophy of care or a run-down of the appointment’s activities (“First we’re going to take some radiographs”), start with a focus on the patient’s needs. Dr. Homoly suggests, “Welcome to XYZ Dental, I’m Dr. Paul. How can I help you today?”

What have you learned about presenting treatment plans to patients—is this something you learned while in dental school, or that you learned in practice? Leave your answers in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Using Conversation to Guide Patients

  1. Gautam Govitrikar

    Excellent piece. The more I am out in the “real world”, the more I realize how important this is. In fact, it may be the ONLY thing that decides patient response.

    I find it very empowering to ask the patient one simple question “Are you aware of what we are doing for you today?”. In most cases, the answer is NO. It was shocking to me at first but not any more. There has been a definite increase in the positive reaction of patients to “scary” treatment modalities like root canals after I adopted this approach.

    1. New Dentist Now Post author

      Hi, glad you shared your approach. That simple question does seem like an easy one to remember and I see why you describe it as “empowering”.
      Thanks for the comment!

    2. Jonathan Ford

      Another question that I often ask at a new patient appointment is “What are your goals for coming to see me today?” Sometimes it is just getting out of pain, sometimes it is a dental cleaning, rarely it is “I need a crown on #3.” I make sure to address their goal and begin the process of accomplishing it during their fist visit. It creates a good first impression and develops rapport with the patient. It also changes the patients mindset and allows them to become an active part of the process.

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