Have you ever walked into an operatory to find a patient chatting happily with their hygienist, only to shut down when they see you enter the room? If you have, you’re not alone. Although you are there to help your patients, many people dread going to the dentist, and the sight of a white coat can trigger them to clam up.
If you’re trying to increase case acceptance, patient shutdown can be especially frustrating. If your patient says the dreaded words “I’ll call you” when you recommend a treatment, you can usually assume it’s not going to happen.
So, what can you do to increase case acceptance?
Patients often prefer interacting with your hygienist rather than speaking with you, so one of your best tactics is to present yourself and your hygienist as members of the same, unified team.
These three steps will help you align your goals and work styles with your hygienist, increase case acceptance, and help you grow your practice.
3 Steps to Unify Your Dental Team
1. Create a Strong Team Culture from Day 1
The first step to cultivating a good relationship with your hygienists is to hire the right people. Make sure you’re hiring a staff that aligns with your vision and goals for the practice, and who you can work with comfortably on a day-to-day basis.
As the patient’s first point of contact with a dental professional, dental hygienists are key in setting the tone for the appointment, establishing rapport, and putting the patient at ease.
Many dentists have found that hiring extroverted hygienists is a good way to ensure good patient experience even at the end of a long day. After you’ve hired the right people, make sure you are maximizing their skillsets and aligning them with your goals.
Set up daily or weekly meetings with your teams. Support training for them. For example, some dentists support personality training workshops for their teams to help hygienists interact with different types of patients successfully.
Additionally, you may wish to consider implementing a dental communication platform to foster more efficient communication between every member on your staff.
2. Present Yourselves as a Team to Your Patient
When you walk into the operatory, if you’re on the same page as your dental hygienist, you’ll be able to present yourself as part of the same team all working for the patient’s success.
In addition to competently performing their work, good dental hygienists will also prime the patient for their interaction with you, and set the patient up to expect your recommendations and diagnoses.
Although hygienists can’t prescribe treatments, a good rule of thumb is that dental hygienists should be able to predict your recommendations 95% of the time.
Ideally, you’d like to get to the point where you can walk into an operatory, hear your hygienist’s summary, and simply agree before moving on to discuss next steps and treatment options.
3. Follow Up With Your Hygienist After the Appointment
As we’ve mentioned, a good hygienist should be able to anticipate your treatment recommendations. How can you reach this goal? Patient follow-up meetings are key.
Did your hygienist miss a problem that you diagnosed? Were they too fast to suggest a complex procedure?
By checking in regularly with your hygienist, you’ll be able to habituate them to your treatment style and patterns, helping to create an even more seamless patient experience down the road.
But cultivating good hygienists is just the beginning. Want to learn more strategies to quickly increase case acceptance? Download our free eBook.