Thursday, November 12, 2015

Things I Never Say to Patients

There are certain things I never say to a patient. As you can imagine, I’ve learned each of these the hard way. Allow me to save you from some pain.

'Nice to meet you.'

You believe you are being polite. In fact, you may actually mean it—you are pleased to meet them. The problem is they have brought in their husband, sons, and daughters to your office for treatment. Sure, it is the first time they are actually your patient, but they have spent hours in your waiting room. They know all of your staff by first name. Now here you come along and say, “Nice to meet you.” Nice going, you’ve just made them feel real special. Instead, I say, “Nice to see you!” Notice the difference? You may or may not have seen them before but either way the statement rings true: It is nice to see them.

'Who missed that cavity?'

Any guesses as to who actually missed that cavity six months ago? Who looked at those radiographs and missed that obvious carious lesion? You guessed it. You did. Corollaries to this include: “Who did that lousy root canal?” “Who did that ugly crown?” Avoid such statements. We all know the answers to these questions.

'I agree; your previous dentist sucked.'

My feeling on this: Just as you are saying this, someone is saying this about you. You’ve heard it in dental school and you’ve heard it while attending continuing education (CE) courses. Don’t criticize others’ dentistry since you were not there under the same circumstances. I know, this sounds obvious to you. However, you’d be surprised by the number of dentists who missed this lesson in dental school and in CE courses. Seriously, you’d be surprised.

'Yes, your insurance covers this.' 

What you meant was that the patient’s insurance will pay 50 to 80 percent of the treatment plan. What they heard is that the treatment is covered 100 percent—as in, it’s free. Can you spot any potential misunderstanding here? What I usually answer is, “I don’t know. Let’s ask Lisa.”

BONUS! I’ll offer this one for our wonderful staff members who answer our telephones:

'Have you been here before?'

Never say this. Sure, I’ve been here before. I just sent you a big fat check, is what your caller is thinking, so instead say, “When was the last time you visited us?” If they’ve never been to your office, they’ll say something like, “Oh no, this is my first visit.” Now you know whether they need a new patient appointment.

How about you? What are your cringeworthy moments? What things have you learned not to say to patients?

Andy Alas, DDS

1 comment:

gatordmd said...

I have total confidence in my work and this thing has a 100% of success


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