Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's he got that I don't?

Hey all,

My father is on vacation, and so is one of my assistants; it has been crazy here. Not huge production stuff, but more like hygiene checks and "Will you take a look at this little spot on my gums?" patients. If you have two dentists doing all this, it is easy, but when it is one guy, it can get crazy. So I might be brief.

I am reading a book called "Unbroken." It is a WWII story of survival. I am not usually into these types of books, but a couple of people told me about it. I asked one of them if they had it and, next thing you know, I am reading it. Another big book so it is taking a long time. It is pretty good so far.

Okay, I will get right to it. Something happened to me last week that I thought we should talk about. I have a perio maintenance patient. As far as getting her teeth cleaned, the periodontist and I share responsibilities. Every three months she is getting her teeth cleaned here and every three months there. She came back and saw me one time and told me about her appointment at his office. She said that Dr. K. did an oral cancer screening with a fancy light, and she was thoroughly impressed with that.

Then she started questioning me and asking me why I don't do the cancer screening with the light thingy. I acted like I didn't hear her. She asked again; I avoided the question. I "ducked and moved" for about five minutes until she let it go. What was I supposed to say?

My specialist bought the introductory kit that had a bunch of lights and stains in it. I don't know if he totally believes in it, but he has all the stuff and he has to use it. You ask the patient if they are interested in enhancing the oral cancer screening for $65 (or something like that) more.

I had the rep at my office and was milliseconds from signing on the dotted line, but I didn't. I decided to call a couple of people first. They said it was expensive (not a big deal if it's good for the patient), and that the stuff expires and no one wants it. Hmmm.

Then there have been some studies out there that have questioned the effectiveness of the light. A call to a patient of mine (a pathologist) confirmed that the research is not very strong on their specificity or their sensitivity. Now, listen and listen close, I don't have an opinion on whether it works or not. I am just saying that, if it is expensive, no one wants it, and I don't know if it works or not, I'm not buying it.

But how do I discuss this subject with a inquisitive patient? I guess I can just tell them that he is a specialist and he kind of needs to have some bells and whistles. Or that he is the guy people go to see for oral cancers and this is just one more thing he needs to have. But I can say that about every product I don't have. Digital impressions, CAD-CAM, Lumineers...

The subject has not really ever come up. He and I agree on most things do things almost exactly the same. We did at one point talk about the system, but I decided not to get it.

So, I kind of look like a shmuck because I don't have something (at least, I feel that is what the patient thinks). I know enough about them to know I don't want it (at least not now), but I don't know enough about them to tell people why. Does that sound stupid?

I think I have enough stuff around my office that keeps people thinking we are up on the technology side of things. I have a TV in the reception area. We have computers in every room with monitors on the ceiling, digital x-rays and the like. I don't hear much of the "I read about X in the paper, why don't you have that?"

I know some of you haven't bitten the digital x-ray bullet yet. Are you getting comments? Are you getting questions about why you don't have something? Do you feel like you lose patients because you are still paper scheduling?

I don't blame you. When we converted our office over to all computers, it cost about $90,000. That is a big nut to crack. When people were asking me about it, I would flat-out tell them that it is too expensive. I would be interested in hearing your comments.

Let me know. I have to go - I have 3 hygiene checks waiting.

Have a great rest of the week.


Anonymous said...

I can relate. All to often,new technology comes out that has drawbacks and is not fulproof. Something appears in the media only touting the benefits and not the shortcomings and we're put in the position of having to decide whether to invest in something few patients want to pay for , but you feel you need to be able to offer. I will wait and see as well!

Anonymous said...

If you want the light thingy get the Identifi. No stuff to expire just the plastic mirrors. I used it but none of the ins would pay for it so I quit using it. Did not feel like chraging the pts. I will sell it to you cheap. LOL


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