Steps to a great new-patient consultation

Jan. 21, 2009
You have one chance to make the right impression with new patiients, says Hollie A. Bryant, DA II. Bryant offers 11 steps to take to improve new-patient consultations.

By Hollie A. Bryant, DA II

The new-patient consultation is the most important appointment that a patient will ever have in your practice. You have only one chance to prove to patients that they have chosen the right practice to have their dentistry.

One shot. You have one chance to make the right impression! Patients come in with expectations about what they want to hear from you and how they want the appointment to go. It's your job to set the stage and produce a plan of action for success.

On any given day, a team member may be off of his or her game. But with a simple outline to follow, you can be sure to stay on task and have success with your new patient appointment. Every consultation will be different because every patient has different needs and expectations.

The following is a method proven to lead all team members in the same direction:

Step 1: Understanding
You are providing a service. Patients are the shoppers looking at the product!
*Desires (what lies beneath?)

Step 2: Permission to take photographs
Five Photos for a Consultation:
a. Full Face
b. Smile
c. Retracted Smile w/separation of teeth (showing wear)
d. Max Arch
e. Mandibular Arch

Step 3: Review photos with patient prior to doctor entering room
*Explore Possibilities

Step 4: Leave their smile, not their full face, on the screen for them to look at while you step outside to get the doctor

Step 5: The patient is in a place of honor
*Sit eye level in front or beside the doctor and review briefly
*Information gathered
*Patient concerns
*Things pointed out in the photos
*Allow the patient to interrupt
*Be quiet and allow the doctor to take over.

Step 6: Present the possibilities
On the screen, call up past cases that could give a result similar to what they want to achieve. Show the patient before-and-after pictures of the case being shown.

Step 7: Time to discuss
*What a case could cost the patient
*Steps to achieving "smile design"
*Your plan of action

Step 8: Anything else?
*Have your doctor ask the patient if he or she has any more questions that may not have gotten answered.
*Make sure that everyone is satisfied.

Step 9: Escort the patient to the consultation room and review the possibilities after the doctor leaves the room. Offer suggestions and the possibilities that can help them achieve what they truly want (i.e., any creative financial possibilities)

Step 10: Take the patient back to the front of the practice. Make sure there is a good transfer to the front desk so that the team is together and knows exactly what is going on

Step 11: Ask permission to follow up within a few days

Following these steps or even adapting a few of these items into your existing protocols for a new-patient appointment can lead to more predictable results. On any day, from the most high-end esthetic practice to the general-care established practice, there is a need for a guided tool such as this that allows all team members to move in the same direction.

The hygienist, the front office, and the assistants can stay on the same page with the doctor by utilizing an outlined protocol such as this. Dare to raise the bar, doctors, and grant successful new-patient appointments in your practice.

Author bio
Hollie Bryant attended the Bowman Gray School of Medicine Dental Assisting Program. She has worked in large group practices, as well as a general practice that emphasizes cosmetic and esthetic treatment. Bryant advanced her clinical skills at the Nash Institute in 2003. Former chairside assistant for Dr. Ross Nash, she has served as an instructor, faculty member and clinical coordinator for the Nash Institute for Dental Learning. She is office manager for Dr. Jeff T. Blank at the Carolina Smile Center. Reach her at Hollie Bryant.