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Brenda McNulty is a Jameson Advisor and Chief of Pediatric and Orthodontic Services for Jameson, a dental management, marketing and hygiene coaching firm that helps dentists and teams become more productive, more profitable and ultimately more fulfilled in their practicing lives. With over 20 years of experience in dentistry, Brenda brings a depth of knowledge in both clinical and business realms through speaking and coaching that support the unique scenarios found not only general practices, but also those of orthodontic and pediatric. For more information on Brenda and Jameson can help your dental practice, visit www.jamesonmanagement.com or call 877.369.5558.
Parents trust your office with their most prized possessions, and can often cause far more drama than the patients themselves. Your team should go to great lengths to connect with both the patients and their parents.
Pediatric patients in the dental office create an interesting, exciting and chaotic environment.
Parents trust your office with their most prized possessions, and can often cause far more drama than the patients themselves. Your team should go to great lengths to connect with both the patients and their parents. A successful practice will take a parent’s perspective into consideration at every step of the treatment process. The following strategies will aid your practice in effectively dealing with pediatric patients and their parents.
Continue to the next page to see the strategies…
Clearly communicate and agree upon expectations of your office before initiating procedures
Some providers feel strongly that parents do not belong in treatment rooms, while others welcome their presence. Know the advantages and disadvantages of both, and relay them to your potential clients. You get to decide what works best for your office, and implement your policy decisively. Parents need to know these expectations prior to scheduling a visit.
Respect the parent’s fragile emotional state when discussing treatment
Parents often believe that they have failed when they hear that their child has dental disease. Accentuate the positives and validate their decision to seek dental care. Provide education without judgement; provide a new beginning. Give the parents the necessary tools and knowledge to appropriately care for their child’s teeth from this point forward.
Make it an experience for both the parents and the patient
Allowing the parents to enjoy some luxuries, such as a coffee bar or massage chairs, will ease their worries while they anxiously wait. Have comfortable chairs in the reception area but harder chairs in the treatment rooms as a technique to discourage parents from accompanying their child into the clinical area.
Demonstrate true concern for the patients overall well-being
As a dentist, you must earn the parent’s trust and admiration before they will undoubtedly accept your recommended treatment. Before discussing any financial liabilities, thoroughly explain the benefits and the projected outcome of the procedure. Also, sensitively, but effectively, explain the risks of not completing the procedure. Avoid the all too common mistake of becoming an insurance-driven practice. Recommend treatment based on the patient’s conditions and not on the allowable services of the insurance provider. Educated parents will more likely accept the treatment regardless of the cost.
Be worth the ticket to the dental show
Their child’s dental visit will cost them more than a ticket to Disneyland. Create value for your services by explaining each action. Utilize a ‘tell, show, do’ approach while generating a fun factor whenever appropriate. Help your team understand that from the moment they enter the door they are on stage. Parents see all and hear all, and their perception is their reality. Hire Tiggers for your office and let the Eeyores remain at home. Team members who exhibit a true passion for their patients and profession will build strong relationships. Dental skills can be taught, so hiring for attitude and personality will pay off in the long run.
Help your parents successfully schedule a visit for their child
Have the surrounding school schedules readily available while parents make appointments for their children. Make note of important school obligations, such as state testing, and caution the parents when they are attempting to schedule a visit during a crucial attendance period.
Prepare for nannies, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or friends that may bring your patients to their appointments
A parent may require someone other than himself or herself to bring their child to your office. Don’t assume parents will read a written policy on this topic. While scheduling the appointment, ask who will be attending with the child and complete the necessary paperwork. Be proactive. Provide the parent with the necessary paperwork well in advance of the appointment to eliminate frustrations.
Under promise and over deliver
Parents place their trust, and the welfare of their child, in your hands, and will feel taken advantage of if the services abruptly change during treatment. Explain all the possible situations that could occur and do not minimize their concerns. Validate all possible scenarios with the parent prior to initiating treatment. If educated parents are comfortable with the worst outcome, they will be thrilled when your practice delivers the best scenario for their child.
Understand that you have the right to refuse service
If you feel that the relationship between the doctor and the parent will hinder proper dental care, you can follow the steps outlined by your local dental association for releasing a patient.
Constantly show appreciation to your team, your patients, and their parents
A well-appreciated team will generate the most pleasant dental experience. Happy parents make for a more relaxed environment for the patient, and the patient’s well-being is your number one priority.
A successful practice initiates proactive communication strategies that will create a comfortable environment for both the parents and the patient. Take every opportunity to create value for your services by turning their child’s visit into a positive experience. A little empathy and compassion go a long way. Provide the necessary support and education to enable parents to make informed decisions. Be transparent and clear with all steps taken during treatment. When your office is fun, exciting, and appreciative, parents will be grateful and acknowledge your efforts. Utilize these strategies and watch your practice succeed.