Brett Churnin, March 2017
Every now and again a new way of thinking causes a paradigm shift in our society. We’ve seen this in technology over the past 25 years. Encyclopedias, typewriters, DVDs have been replaced by google search, text messages, and Netflix. What used to be ‘normal’ is now no longer useful. What used to be impossible is now what we do everyday.
In the world of Dentistry, we are shown new clinical and technological innovations all the time. And yet, one area that most dentists ignore is crucially important - effective communication.
The area where dentistry has fallen behind many other industries is in the way we present our treatment plans. It used to be that the patient had no choice but to agree or walk away from what a dentist suggested.
These days, they have more options: they can price shop, they can research online, and they can also damage a dentists reputation if they feel they are not treated well.
A new approach needs new thinking
Pioneers in any field are often derided as being wacky or misguided. But if the theory they espouse turns out to work, it soon takes hold and can eventually define a new normality.
When it comes to treatment planning, Primespeak is pioneering the way dentists approach their New Patient Exams. Primespeak provides a new concept in patient communication, founded in both psychology and the nuances of actual patient behaviour. It incorporates a whole new way of thinking about how you communicate with patients in an ethical way, and increases treatment acceptance at the same time.
The philosophy behind Primespeak
Dentists have a duty of care to present the best care options for every patient, not simply those who they think can afford it.
However, in a profession where ‘selling’ is often considered a dirty word, dentists face a dilemma. In order to run their business properly, they need to deliver treatment to make a profit. Very often, patients don't want anything except minimal treatment at minimal cost. Worse than this, they resent the dentist if they expose conditions that are worsening in their mouth.
Primespeak is a philosophy that teaches dentists how to pre-empt and overcome these challenges with the most difficult patients.
Traditional sales techniques fail in dentistry because patients don't want to be sold. They know when a dentist is using a sales technique to try to influence their decision. They’ve been sold to their whole life in one way or the other. They’ve learned ways to politely avoid saying yes.
Primespeak flips the traditional selling model on its head.
It gives control and choice to the patient, and makes the dentist a trusted partner in the decision.
The philosophy behind Primespeak is to encourage patients to take responsibility for their dental problems. This is done by deepening their understanding rather than simply being the supplier of solutions.
Dentists, like all medical professionals are expected to give recommendations, however the choice of treatment is always the patient’s choice. In the Primespeak approach the role of the dentist is to communicate the treatment options, including the consequences of not having any treatment.
The Primespeak New Patient Exam
Primespeak’s focus is solely on the new patient examination as this is the key influencer in creating a loyal patient. Body language, genuine rapport building, conversation skills and pre-emoting objections are all factors that need to be addressed if a new patient examination is to be a successful.
If a new patient feels uncomfortable with the dentist this creates the risk of the patient sharing their bad experience. Not within a small group of close-knit friends and family, but with a wide network of friends and acquaintances via social media.
However, if the pre-clinical discussion is conducted in the right way you can pre-empt issues and barriers before they occur and in this way by the time the examination and consultation takes place the patient is already well on their way to making their own choice.
A strong focus on pre-clinical discussion
The preclinical discussion is the time before a patient is examined. It is the discussion time that sets the right understanding between the patients and the dentist.
A typical (i.e. non-Primespeak) new patient examination is an information-driven approach. This is a process of dental education, recommending treatment and overcoming objections.
In sharp contrast, a Primespeak new patient examination is concerned with:
- - Building trust between the patient and the dentist
- - Exposing existing conditions
- - Deepening awareness and concern about the long term effects of the conditions
A Primespeak trained dentist is curious and asks questions in such a way that shifts control of the discussion to the patients.
Adopting the Primespeak methodology requires a change of mindset by the dentist. It also requires time to ‘unlearn’ some of the traditional sales and educational techniques that have crept in over the years. Dentists who have attended the Primespeak course, and have taken the time to implement the learning with patients are now using the new approach to diffuse patient objections, remove the ‘selling’ and encourage treatment acceptance in their practices.