The best manner of patient care is simple: know the people. If you’re familiar with the needs and priorities of the people coming to your clinic, not only in the aspect of health, but in life in general, you’ll be able to build rapport and a lasting relationship with them. Although people vary in personalities, as much as in the dental problems they’re facing, you can categorize patients according to their noticeable behaviors. When you do this, you’ll be able to frame your conversations with them better and really help them. That said, here are the types of dental patients you’ll definitely meet in your office:
The Reactive Patient
This is the type of patient who goes to your clinic once in a blue moon only. That is, whenever something wrong comes up. A tingling sensitivity while eating ice cream. Bleeding gums in the middle of brushing teeth. When a problem crops up, they react, and that’s when you see them in your office. These patients don’t believe in regular check-ups. They mistakenly think that if there’s no pain, then everything’s okay.
In this regard, you need to educate such a patient. They should be able to understand two things: that by the time they feel pain, it usually means that the problem has gone from bad to worse and secondly, that visits every six months is crucial for prevention of the very problems they’re reacting to and other more serious issues, like periodontitis and oral cancers. Aside from educating this type of patient, offer different ways of payment and discount programs as well. The lack of finances may be the reason your patients are only going to your clinic when needed.
The Forgetful Patient
These ones go in more frequently than the reactive patient — it’s just that they miss appointments every now and then. Now, missed appointments are never good for the practice. It throws your team in a state of flurry. It affects your production targets. It hurts your bottom line over time.
There are two ways to address this: One, remind them simply. Roll out a policy of calling up patients a day before the scheduled appointment. If you want a more tech-advanced approach, create an app that would outline and remind your patients of their next sessions. The second thing you want to do is to inform the patients of the value of continuing with treatments. If they’re able to reach the point of full understanding of the fixes they need, they would most likely follow through treatments and not miss appointments. When they’re in your dental chair, explain to them their dental problem and the repercussions of not addressing these issues. If necessary, give them an overview of the procedures or the dental instruments you would use.
The Fearful Patients
They’re quite like the reactive ones, too. But they’re stronger in terms of resistance. Whereas the reactive patients only visit rarely because they don’t believe in regular check-ups, these fearful patients don’t go to the clinic as much as they can, precisely because they don’t like being there. The whirring sounds of dental equipment, the gag reflex, and the cold environment just put them in a state of panic.
What can you do here? For one, you may offer sedation and walk them through the procedure. Teach them deep breathing techniques. Give them a sense of control by saying that you’ll stop when they raise their hand or do a certain signal. Create a relaxing atmosphere in the clinic as well. For instance, put up relaxing images in your walls or a soothing music in the lobby.
How well do you know the people coming into your office? Remember, knowing your patients is the most effective care strategy.