View from the Chairside: how do you gauge a successful new patient emergency visit?
By Dr. Joel Antel
Dr. John O’Keefe, CDA Director of Knowledge Networks, sat down with Dr. Joel Antel, to discuss what he considers to be a successful new patient emergency visit.
Dr. Joel Antel is a general dentist in Winnipeg Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Dentistry in 1979. Dr. Antel has written, consulted and lectured on practice management/patient communications and is the chair of the Manitoba Dental Association Communication Committee.
Listen to audio interview
- Address the patient’s reason for the emergency visit.
- Establish a strong relationship with the patient.
- Ensure you’ve laid the ground work for making good treatment choices then and in the future.
- You’ve been successful:
- If the patient is willing to return for the examination, diagnosis and comprehensive treatment that is recommended.
- If the patient tells you that they’ve had a better experience than what they had expected.
- If the patient chooses the recommended treatment rather than the treatment they may have thought they needed.
- If the patient chooses your office for ongoing care.
Dentist’s Contribution to the Visit’s Success
- Establish a rapport with the patient so that an educational informative discussion can take place.
- Hold an informal conversation with the patient rather than asking direct questions.
- Find out the patient’s values, priorities, and challenges that you have to overcome.
- Find out the patient’s level of dental knowledge and their capacity to comprehend the recommendations that you make.
Dental Team’s Contribution to the Visit’s Success
- Front-desk staff indicate to the patient that the focus is on his/her needs, comfort and well being. All other staff must follow the same approach.
- Don’t let systems and techniques prevent you from having a genuine relationship with the patient.
Early Indications of Success
- Look for signs of apprehension that the patient might have or which might get reduced as the appointment goes on. Is there any patient resistance to having a discussion about treatment?
- Ideally, the patient should take over the conversation about appropriate treatment, necessary follow-up and prevention of similar problems in the future.
Three (3) Absolutely Essential Elements for a Successful Visit
- The dentist’s leadership and involvement
- Set realistic expectations for the first emergency visit
- Close off the appointment with a conversation about essential next steps
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