Deborah Bell explains how introducing a form can help to spark meaningful conversations that lead to more profits…
Dental practices don’t tend to have huge marketing budgets…if they have one at all. So, anything that can help to improve the performance of the business for little or no cost is something to be welcomed and actioned.
So, how could a simple A4 sheet of paper be the key to transforming your treatment uptake and boosting your profits?
The answer is simple – when it’s called a Dental Health Assessment (DHA) form.
A DHA form is an A4 sheet of questions that the patient fills in on arrival at the practice, or perhaps with the dentist in surgery. Most importantly, it’s a conversation starter, and conversations lead to treatments.
Using the form, patients are asked to rate themselves against a number of dental health-related questions such as how happy they are with the health or look of their teeth, whether they are experiencing any pain, or if they are concerned about bad breath.
The completed form is then used by the dentist (or treatment coordinator) to start a meaningful conversation with the patient to ascertain how important those issues are to the patient and how keen they are to do something about them.
Many patients have underlying issues, needs or wants, but can be reluctant to air them for a variety of reasons – they may feel nervous or intimidated, they may feel that they’re being vain if they mention certain treatments or they may feel that there isn’t enough time to raise any points of concern – and so they say nothing. And, if the dentist says nothing, that patient walks out of the door and the opportunity is lost.
By using the form as a prompt to engage in a conversation with the patient, all of those barriers are knocked down.
Here’s a simple example of how the conversation might go between the dentist and the patient who has filled out the DHA form:
‘Hello Mrs Smith, I see from your answers that you’ve rated the look of your teeth as a four out of ten, what’s the reason for that?’
‘Well, I don’t like the fact that my front two teeth overlap, and I always think they look a bit dull.’
‘I see, so if we could help you straighten those teeth and make them a little brighter, is that something you would be interested in?’
‘Ok, well there are a number of options open to you, I’ll talk you through them and then you can choose what the best one is for you, how does that sound?’
‘That’s great, thank you’
Now, I know that those conversations don’t happen in many dental practices. Why? Because, some patients may have an issue, such as overcrowding, which doesn’t bother them from a functionality perspective, but they might prefer them to be straighter and better spaced. However, if the dentist never asks that specific question the patient may never bring it up and, therefore, they won’t ask for or go ahead with treatment. However, if the dentist takes the time to ask and explain the options, the outcome would probably have been very different. It’s a story I’ve heard time and time again.
In the example above, there is an orthodontic treatment and a tooth whitening opportunity – possibly £3-5k in income to the practice. There are two possible outcomes – a win/win where the practice gets the business and the patient gets the smile she wants. Or a lose/lose – where no income is generated for the practice and there is no improvement for the patient.
The use of the DHA form swings the odds significantly in the direction of the win/win.
Why wouldn’t you use one in your practice?