An Interesting Dental Marketing Approach

In my travels around the city visiting dental offices I came across this one. You might think I’m going to be critical just for the fun of it, but that really is not my intent. Instead, I am intrigued by the marketing strategy and business model. After all, when someone creates the front of his business to communicate in the way this dentist has, I believe he is inviting reactions and responses. First, obviously, this is an attempt to attract patients and the dentist has an idea who it is he or she wants to attract. As to the dentist’s skills, the front of the building doesn’t tell us this. We might make a few assumptions, but whatever those assumptions are, are unproven. Neither gender nor ethnic background have anything to do with the skills of the dentist. I know this based on working with a wide variety of dentists throughout my career. And there is nothing wrong with choosing to work with low-income groups as a personal calling. However, public presentation with regards to signs, office location, external and internal lighting, color selection and the rest all have affects on potential customers/clients/patients. I am curious why he came to promote his practice in the way he has. He certainly is outside the norm, which can be good or bad depending… Of course the biggest attractant to the marketplace for this dentist is his practice’s title, “Mr. Dentist.” This might not be that provocative in other countries where dentists have the title mister and not doctor. Again, it is the level of training and licensure that are important when...

Dentist Attempts to Stifle Critical Comments

Here’s an interesting article about a dentist who had patients sign agreements not to put disparaging comments on social network websites. http://onforb.es/wboJQW It’s a clever idea that will likely cause more negative publicity than had the dentist simply tried to resolve the patient’s problem. Now it’s a freedom of speech issue. This is a hard thing to swallow for any of us, but we have to be settled with the idea that some people will not like us. Certainly we should do everything we can to resolve conflicts and negative publicity, but there is a point where we are best off to let it go and trust that people can sense when someone is being unfairly criticized. I am not advocating passivity when it comes to negative publicity but instead of trying to squelch negative comments, I think it is always best to promote honest feedback and then respond to it, good or bad. This shows people that you, the dentist, are engaged and take the feelings and ideas of others seriously....

How to Succeed in Periodontal Therapy Part 5

Frankly, I have no illusion that I can single handedly change the quality and nature of periodontal therapy in every dental office in the world – at least not over night. There will come a day when dentists and dental hygienists train patients in ways very similar to how they perform clinical procedures today, because that is how they will be trained themselves. Even communication within dentistry is a trainable procedure. In time, the importance of effective communication within periodontal therapy will grow to the point where it will no longer be considered an esoteric topic. Instead it will be taught as a learned communication skill requiring memorization, rehearsals and performance. Critical conversations will be planned out behind the scenes and standardized into templates similar to composing musical compositions – and every member of the office team will learn how to read the music and perform their important role in patient support. Eventually more dentists will begin to grasp the overarching protection provided by proactively training patients and their teams. Informed consent will simply be subtly built into the everyday conversations office personnel have with patients because it has simply become a part of the story and culture of the office. When this happens friction between patients and dental offices will dramatically decline. Dental teams (not just a handful of dental hygienists) will no longer simply accept that patients never will floss or that they always do. Instead they will actually and automatically show them how to do it effectively and work with them when they have difficulty getting the hang of it. And patients will change their attitudes...

The Therapeutic Importance of Hope

Hope propels therapy forward. Despair stops it cold. Dentists rob patients of hope when they want to project an inflated level of certainty. When dentists “know” ahead of time how everything is going to turn out, whether good or bad, the candle of hope is snuffed out. Yes, even assuring patients that everything will be OK can be unkind. Should things not turn out as we had promised, our poor patients are then suddenly whiplashed into disappointments they were promised by our certainty would not occur. Here is a simple example. Never promise, or let anyone on your team promise, that something you will do won’t hurt. It might. And how do you know what “hurt” means to the other person? Instead, we can always promise to do our best and to be sensitive to how they are responding to what we are doing. Here’s an interesting thought. Our patients’ hopes are tied to our humility. In other words, to give them hope, we must admit we do not know everything and not everything we do works the way we want it to. This is not a slight on competence. It is simply acknowledging a fact of life. By being uncertain as to outcomes, we too express hope and become fellow travelers with our patients. Furthermore, unless we give patients the gift of uncertainty upfront, we cannot really celebrate with them in the end when everything works out just fine. May all our patients beat the odds, and may we not throw cold water on anyone’s desire to go for the Hail Mary pass. And should things not work...

Two Competing Business Models in Dentistry

I had an interesting experience yesterday. A former patient from years ago came to see me. As sometimes happens she did not stay the course and slipped on making sure she was seeing dentists regularly. Now over five years later she returns with one of her upper central incisors slowly avulsing. She knows it needs to come out. She has known this for some time now. But finally she has the courage to come back and see me. She came with a referral slip from a dental clinic nearby. I was in this facility earlier this month. It is owned by someone in another state and according to “the rules” I was not able to go back to the treatment area, which means that the dentists who work there are blocked from consultations with their patients and outside specialists chairside. Interesting… OK, fine. Now back to this particular patient. Her primary concern would be what? To make sure that when she loses the tooth, which will likely come out in the impression, that there is a replacement right away. There are two options to accomplish this. First the extracted tooth or an artificial tooth can be bonded back in. Secondly, a treatment partial can be fabricated within a day and delivered to the patient. I went back to this office and explained the issue, actually giving them the opportunity to make money today. According to “the rules,” however, they can only work with a particular lab out of state and the turn-around time is two weeks. The patient is horrified with this prospect. So I will take care of...

How to Succeed in Periodontal Therapy Part 4

Where Are We? It should be obvious by now that this presentation is not a “best practices” consensus on the subject of periodontal therapy. Rather it is my personal, but experienced advice on what I consider the best way for dentists to treat and manage chronic periodontitis. I also believe that reading and implementing some or all of my recommendations here will help your practice grow. The purpose of these blog posts, which will eventually be consolidated into a manual and used in training seminars on line or in person, is to explain in a comprehensive way how to establish and then operate a periodontal therapy program; one that provides the best care beginning in the general dental office that is working in concert with a periodontist colleague. In other words it is assumed that there will be patients who fall outside of the more predictable and routine, so for this reason, it is always smart to have a periodontist on your Periodontal Therapy Program team. This brings confidence to patients in your program and makes referrals, when indicated, easier to achieve. Remember, it is important that your referral recommendations are followed by your patients in order to make sure they return to you later. Patients who leave any office to find “somebody” to help them with “something” easily lose confidence in the practice that seems to have sent them away. On the other hand, when patients understand the story and how and when referrals are made, and to whom they are made, as simply a matter of fact in the early presentation, this builds greater trust in the...