Most patients seek a second opinion… and that’s before they walk out the door

An adage in medicine reminds patients always to seek a second opinion. Conversely, in dentistry it is not typical for a patient to seek a second opinion from another dentist when a treatment plan is recommended. However, most patients will get a second opinion without ever leaving the practice, and they could very well ask the dental nurse for it.

Patients will undoubtedly seek out someone on the dental team to validate their decision to accept or reject the treatment plan recommended by the dentist; almost every time the patient will ask the dental nurse, hygienist, or even front desk staff for an opinion.

As such, the dental nurse needs to have the verbal skills to reinforce properly the recommended treatment plan. One way is to implement scripting among the dental team. This article covers three reasons why scripting is so important when dealing with patients who are seeking a second opinion.

1. Patients accept treatment from a practice and staff members they trust
In most situations, patients only accept major treatment plans if they have built a relationship with a practice and gained a sense of trust with the entire staff.

This sense of trust is particularly important when a patient asks a member of the dental team for a second opinion about a recommended treatment plan.

Relying on the trust factor the patient has for the practice, the dental team member should reinforce treatment benefits with the patient and use positive statements to answer any remaining patient questions. For example, if a patient asks about whitening and the dental nurse enthusiastically and confidently reinforces the benefits of having a beautiful smile, the patient will usually accept treatment. Using power words like ‘great’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘terrific’ is a critical way to build this sense of enthusiasm with patients.

2. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic team members are better able to educate patients about treatment
Scripting is a training tool that teaches the dental team. In turn, better-informed staff members will then communicate more information to patients. As staff members role-play and learn their scripts, they become more knowledgeable about all the practice’s services, as well as growing in confidence when it comes to answering patients’ questions.

3. Scripting keeps everyone on the same page
If patients hear conflicting information from staff members about recommended treatment, they become confused and frustrated. When that happens, they will probably reject treatment. But when team members are well trained in communicating the benefits of treatment, they reinforce the recommendations. The result? Increased case acceptance.

Patients really do seek a second opinion in dentistry – and it could well be from you! With the right verbal skills and scripting, the dental nurse can provide the enthusiastic, positive reinforcement that patients need to make critical case acceptance decisions.

Doing this the right way is a critical component of increased case acceptance, and increased case acceptance is vital to the financial health of the practice. In short, the success of the dental practice depends upon the superior verbal skills of the dental nurse.

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