5 ways to maximize your patient education system
BY Jana Berghoff, RDH, FAADOM
It's often said that when patients don't understand a treatment, they're less likely to move forward with it, and this is especially true in the dental industry. As hygienists, part of our job is to educate patients on treatment options and help them understand procedures that might seem overwhelming. Luckily, thanks to technology, we now have more help than ever to educate our patients in the form of patient education systems such as CAESY Cloud from Patterson Dental. Patient education systems give hygienists the tools they need as a trusted source of information and help guide a two-way communication that can build patient relationships.
For other articles on dental patient education, consider reading:
- Dental Showmanship: Explain the magic trick of a hygiene appointment
- Ease dental patient anxiety with these body language tips
- The importance of "The Three Languages of Perio" coding
Like many technologies, patient education systems work best when used to their full potential. Through my experiences, I have a few tips and tricks to help every practice maximize its patient education system and create a better patient experience.
1. Use patient education systems during all stages of the appointment
Patient education systems can and should be used before, during, and after an appointment, not just when a patient is in the chair.
• Before - Hygienists now have the opportunity to begin educating patients before they even walk through the door. Sending the patient an email with a quick video of a procedure they're about to undergo is a good way to prep for the appointment and ensures the patient knows what to expect. If the patient is a child, CAESY Cloud offers the "Andy" video series, which aims to calm the nerves of children before their first dental visit.
• During - There are often natural breaks during an appointment that allow hygienists to present educational videos to a patient. While waiting for the dentist, play a video for the patient regarding any problems you've noticed or to help clear up any questions the patient might have asked about during the visit.
• After - Education doesn't have to end when the appointment is over. Send a follow-up email to answer any lingering questions a patient may have or to give information on a procedure you feel a patient would benefit from. This helps keep the dentist top-of-mind for the patient and positions the hygienist as a valued source of information.
2. Personalize for each patient
Every patient learns differently, so hygienists should present information in a way that best suits each patient. CAESY Cloud offers several types of presentations that allow hygienists to tailor their message. Some videos allow users to stop, slow down, and rewind an animated diagram of a procedure while the hygienist explains what is happening in his or her own words. A personalized presentation allows a patient to ask questions and helps foster great conversation and a more meaningful relationship.
A good use for this tool is when explaining a root canal. Many patients have a very scary perception of the procedure, but when it's explained to them, they realize the procedure isn't nearly as frightening as they initially believed. By going through each step of the procedure with the help of CAESY, a hygienist can watch a patient's reactions and relieve any concerns he or she may have with specific segments of the video. When patients feel they're being treated as individuals, they can feel more at ease and comfortable with a decision.
3. Educate while patients wait
The waiting room is a great opportunity to educate patients before an appointment starts. If the hygienist knows a patient has asked about specific dental work, he or she can play a video in the reception area to address that specific treatment. This can help a patient remember he or she had asked about a treatment previously and encourage action. This can often be the spark the patient was waiting for when it comes to selecting a procedure.
Displaying general videos about cosmetic dentistry also creates an opportunity for patients to mention they've been thinking about certain cosmetic treatments, and for hygienists to present more information regarding the options available.
4. Build relationships
Repeat patients are key to a successful and thriving practice. A patient education system such as CAESY Cloud can act as a trusted third-party resource to educate patients in an unbiased way. Several videos in CAESY's video library offer patients lessons in preventive care on topics such as proper brushing and flossing techniques. Although these lessons may sound basic, prevention videos show patients you care about their long-term health and are committed to providing them the best overall dental care. And best of all, it only takes 60 seconds during an appointment, so you can put it on while getting the instruments ready.
By knowing a patient's needs and providing them with this resource in an appropriate manner, you can help them feel more comfortable and encourage them to be more loyal to you and the practice.
5. Start slow
Implementing new workflows may be challenging. If you want to integrate CAESY videos into your daily routine - but want to do it slowly - create manageable goals for the number of patients with whom you and your team are going to use your education system. A great starting point is two patients a day. At the end of the day, have every team member meet and go over best practices. Sometimes a team might discover certain personality types were more perceptive to the videos and responded favorably.
With the whole office working together and gaining confidence using the system, patient education will become second nature.
When used properly, patient education systems empower hygienists to be an even greater source of information to patients and help foster relationships based on trust. By personalizing each presentation to the patient, hygienists can maximize the effect of patient education systems and help increase case acceptance throughout the practice.
Jana Berghoff, RDH, FAADOM, has managed a diverse selection of dental offices, including general/family, dental X-ray facilities, TMJ/facial pain clinics, and cosmetic. Seeing the need for experienced clinical staff in computer training, Jana became a trainer for Patterson Dental. After training close to 500 dental offices, she is now the technology marketing manager with Patterson Dental. Reach her at [email protected].