Mastering the Art of Patient Education

A dentist educating a patient

Mastering the Art of Patient Education

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”

This age-old expression has countless applications but can sometimes feel the most relevant in medicine – especially in dentistry. It can be a frustrating experience for a clinician; they accurately diagnose an issue, one that stands to become exacerbated and cause even worse problems, only for the patient to refuse treatment. For whatever reason, patients often perceive oral health issues as less important than those in other areas of the body. While part of this may be due to logical fallacy on the part of the patient, it is an issue that can be addressed in part by improved patient education.

If patients better understood just how exactly these oral health complications were affecting their daily lives as well as their overall and future systemic health, they may be more inclined to accept the proposed treatment. This would be a mutually beneficial proposition. Patients could enjoy improved health while avoiding more costly and unpleasant issues down the road, while clinicians could do better, more fulfilling work, while also generating more revenue.

Below are a few tips on accomplishing this mutually advantageous goal by mastering patient education.

1. Allow time for more thorough explanations. Your first instinct may be to expedite an appointment (if even by a few minutes) to allow for an extra patient or two to be scheduled each day. While this may initially seem like a way to boost revenue, it can come at the expense of patient education. This, in turn, reduces case acceptance. Accepted treatment will net your practice far more revenue than that earned from an additional one or two appointments. Instead, leave appointments padded with some extra time to more thoroughly explain findings and diagnoses and why the patient would benefit from receiving treatment now.

2. Answer frequently asked questions proactively. In your time as a dentist or dental specialist, you have undoubtedly noticed a pattern in the questions you received after diagnosing an issue. Integrate the answers to these questions into your initial explanation instead of waiting for patients to ask. This ensures that patients are receiving the maximum level of education without needing to pose a question they may forget or attempt to ask later.

3. Use technology to bolster education. Oftentimes, a verbal explanation simply is not enough to fully enlighten patients about the issues they are experiencing. Even then, gray, blurry 2D X-ray images can create more questions than they answer. An option like CBCT imaging, on the other hand, goes a long way in educating patients in a way they can truly see with their own eyes. For instance, the crystal-clear imaging and maneuverable vantage points can help them understand where an issue is occurring and what exactly is happening even when they aren’t experiencing pain. Once they understand these two key pieces of information, they will often become more motivated to treat the issue or issues.

Would you like to learn more about how cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) technology can improve patient education? If so, call us today at 855-PREXION or find a representative in your area. Our representatives can help you gain a better understanding of how CBCT technology can generate revenue for your practice.