How patient education systems help with day-to-day activities
By Melissa Katzenmaier, RDH
When patients walk back to the hygiene station, they usually know exactly what the dental hygienist is going to ask them: "Are you flossing? Do you know the benefits of flossing? Are you brushing twice a day?" Although patients visit the office only once or twice a year, this can become mundane and monotonous for both patients and hygienist.
Over time, we get complacent with our oral hygiene instructions, especially because we're always under a time constraint and need to worry about the next appointment. Because of this, my practice introduced a patient education system, specifically CAESY by Patterson Dental, into our daily interactions with patients. Instead of the same oral hygiene speech, patients now experience something different every time when they watch short oral hygiene videos. The videos highlight tips and tricks for preventive hygiene care, which allows our patients to learn more at each visit.
Our patient education system has helped me with many of my day-to-day activities. It's made our practice run more efficiently and economically while also increasing our patients' knowledge.
Better conversations -Oftentimes as hygienists we must remind ourselves that our patients did not go to dental school, and consequently will not understand much of the dental lingo we share with them. A patient education system puts dental terminology into layman's terms, which makes it easier for patients to understand what we're discussing. This can prompt them to ask questions during their visit, and allows the hygienist to have more in-depth conversations with patients.
Additionally, it's important to remember that many patients are visual learners; they want to see what we're talking about rather than listening to us or looking at outdated photos or models. CAESY's three-dimensional videos hold our patients' attention and allow them to have a better understanding of what it is we do for them.
Increased case acceptance - In some circumstances, we've seen increased case acceptance. For example, periodontal disease is often difficult to explain to patients. Our patient education system offers an in-depth video on this topic, which makes it very easy for them to understand. Since we started using the patient education system, we've seen a higher number of patients coming back to the office for periodontal disease treatment because they now understand more about the issue. Before introducing our patient education system, our office used models to show patients how a crown was placed and explain the importance of receiving a crown.
The system offers a comprehensive three-dimensional video that walks through the process step-by-step. Using the patient education system in conjunction with an intraoral scanner and our practice management system, we're able to actually show patients where the cracks and broken margins are on their teeth. The combination of these three tools has increased our crown acceptance rate.
Time savings -When patients first visit our office and hear me say, "I'm going to show you an educational video," they often think I'll be showing a boring, long, drawn-out video. But our patient education system videos are very short and to the point. I've found that the videos actually take less time to explain a procedure than it would for me to walk through the process with patients.
Smile Channel -Smile Channel is our favorite feature in the CAESY patient education system. It houses a variety of different and well-produced videos that are designed to be shown in the practice waiting room. We are able to pick and choose from the wide variety of videos that are suitable for all ages and show the ones that best represent our practice and the services we offer.
We look at our schedule each morning and make selections based on the patients coming in. For example, if we have a new pediatric patient visiting, we will play the educational video designed for children that features a monkey. The kids seem to love this and it puts them at ease, making their first dental appointment at our office less scary and more fun.
Smile Channel also acts as a marketing tool. Patients watching the videos may see a service that they did not know our practice offered. This prompts them to ask questions and starts them thinking about taking that next step of scheduling an additional appointment.
Unexpected benefit - Patients understand that oral hygiene instructions are part of every dental appointment, but oftentimes they don't know that this is a service we provide to them free of charge-code number D1330. Our office plans to add this service number onto the patient's report to show that this is in fact a service our office provides them at no cost. This helps show the value that we offer our patients-we go above and beyond by educating them with our patient education system so they don't need to research proper care techniques themselves.
For those dental offices that have not implemented a patient education system, I highly recommend looking into doing so. Dental hygiene is a large part of what is covered in each appointment, and a patient education system shows patients that you truly care about their dental health, and it can help build their confidence and trust in your practice. RDH
Melissa Katzenmaier, RDH, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's in psychology in 1997. In 2003, she attended Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she earned her dental hygiene license. Since 2003, Melissa has taught at FVTC and volunteered at the Tri-County Community Dental Clinic. She has great passion for dental hygiene and thoroughly enjoys her career. Melissa started working in her father's dental office in 2008, assisting at the front desk, and she currently works at Elite Smiles Dental.