Specialty Practice Communication: Challenges & Solutions
Part I of this two-part blog series will address communication challenges and solutions with our patients.
While presenting at AAOMS, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, we began the day with a group activity to identify daily communication challenges. The focus was on three areas: Patients, Players (team members), and Practice.
The diagram above reveals OMS team responses.
This two-part article will share the solutions we collaboratively developed.
The Patient Disregards Pre- and Post-Operative Instructions
- Create a pre- and post-op video for each procedure and text the link to the patient instead of , or in addition to, a folder of papers for them to read.
- Offer a (mandatory) pre-surgical virtual session, included with the surgical fee, to review the procedure and the caregivers’ responsibilities.
- If you have five cases of wisdom tooth extractions, offer one session to all of those patients together. Bonus: They will learn from each other’s questions!
I recently had surgery and they required I attend a virtual session with the surgical nurse 2-4 weeks before the surgery. My husband voluntarily attended, which they loved! It was a fantastic way to prepare us for the event, ask questions, and learn from other people’s questions.
Patients Reluctant/Argumentative About Mask Wearing
Unfortunately, this is a problem in healthcare since COVID-19.
Prepare the patient both verbally and in writing at every opportunity that they must wear a mask when visiting your office. If they are not willing to comply you will be unable to continue to treat them.
This is where office protocols created by the entire team are helpful. Make it an all-team meeting activity. Creating a script for a situation helps the team have guidelines on responding to a helicopter parent or caregiver.
For example, “We have found that children behave better and have a more positive experience if the caregiver is not in the room. We will keep you updated about the procedure; however, we do not allow anyone but the team members in the operatory.”
Your policy needs to be in writing and reiterated at every interaction, so the caregiver is aware and compliant.
Office Language Confusing to the Patient
As dental professionals, we must remember that the language we use all day is not terminology that patients understand. Changing our language choices to improve communication and outcomes will make the patient more comfortable and trusting and improve case acceptance.
Download the OMS Language Choice Chart below can get started.
Scheduling and Cancellations
Communication, verbal, written, and virtual with continual reinforcement of the importance and value of the services our practice provides is essential. Creating a script, together as a team, with verbal skills that everyone uses regularly helps with patient loyalty.
You know the situations that occur in your practice. During an all-team meeting develop solutions together that you may not have considered.
These are a few solutions to get you started.
- Rate your patients, A, B, and C based on appointment reliability and payment status.
- Fill your schedule with dependable patients. No-shows and cancellations, and outstanding balances should be lower-tier patients.
- Create a structured scheduling template for every provider and stick to it! It makes scheduling and filling holes much easier for everyone! Plus, it helps with practitioner efficiency. Such as three hygienists waiting for an exam at the top of the hour 5-6 times a day.
- Allow one ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ pass for any scheduled procedure the patient cancels within 24 hours. Explain that the practice is busy, and patients are wait-listed to be scheduled. Respecting your practice time is appreciated.
- Let them know that if they cancel again, they will be charged a percentage of the procedure cost for any other cancellations.
- Charge the patient a % of the scheduled procedure each time they cancel
- Allow time in the schedule to provide same-day treatment. Your practice revenue will increase significantly.
- “All hands on deck”! Be persistent and consistent once you create a policy.
Tune in to Part II
Stay tuned. Our next blog will be discussing the communication challenges and solutions for the Players and the Practice in specialty practices.
Bonus Communication Tips
Watch the video below.