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Moving patient care forward through networked platforms.

Dentistry is at a crossroads.

Today, it is steeped in technology. From3D printing to mobile dentistry, dentistry is leveraging tech to advance care and offer faster and more efficient ways to deliver it.  

What has taken longer to find its way into dentistry are the business model innovations that leverage cloud computing and mobile to deliver new ways of doing business.

Care

We can book a ride or order food in no time, yet platforms that directly connect the stakeholders to improve the delivery of dental care have not been realized. Dental software is finding its way to the cloud and mobile apps are being used to engage patients to some degree. Unfortunately, the data and relationships are locked down with little in the way of leveraging collaboration or connected workflows to improve efficiency and deliver value for patients and providers.

The politically charged environment surrounding Covid- 19 puts trust front and center. Establishing and maintaining the trust that you have with your patients is an ongoing pursuit. Maintaining continuity of care by providing specialty procedures in-house can contribute to case acceptance and treatment success. It’s also more convenient, which should not be underestimated as a contributing factor in case acceptance. When complexity is reduced and patients feel comfortable and safe everyone benefits.

Culture

Meanwhile, a cultural shift is taking place in how career success is being defined. Amplified by the pandemic, market forces combined with enabling technologies has inspired us to reconsider how, where and when we want to work. Millennials have different values than boomers, prizing flexibility and control over ownership, while the competitive forces and economics of practice ownership for new and even established dentists is shifting. Female dentists now make up 50% of new grads and are more likely to not pursue practice ownership or full time employment.

Patient expectations magnified by the consumerization of healthcare is possibly the most important trend to adapt to. Ease of use and transparency are requisite in the interactions with patients. This trend is an opportunity to make patients more of a partner. Practices willing to confidently adapt will grow faster and retain more of their patients than practices with a more conservative approach to patient engagement.

These trends should inspire dentists to think about what makes sense for them and their patient population as a new reality takes hold.  

It stands to reason that evolving demographics and shifting priorities makes the need for new business models to accommodate the new crucial reality.

Collaboration

The main limiting factor for dental practices to deliver care and grow are the procedures they can perform in-house. Understanding this, GP’s learn to do what procedures they can themselves. The likelihood is that this still leaves dozens of specialty procedures referred out for many practices. Why should this not be seen as a breakdown in care? It dramatically reduces the likelihood of the patient following through with treatment and jeopardizes the relationship with the referring practice. Even if the referral is handled with best practices it adds complexity and overhead to an already intimidating scenario for the patient.

Corporate dentistry and group practices have made keeping procedures in-house a priority. Understanding the benefits to the patient and the business.

By enabling collaboration between the practice, specialist, and patient the efficiency and effectiveness of the treatment process can be optimized. This can best be achieved through a networked platform that can bring real-time liquidity to the resources needed for successful collaboration. Workflows can be automated through AI where it makes sense as can communication and education.

What makes a networked platform powerful are the connections and fluidity of the data that are integrated into workflows. This can simplify finding the right specialist, and integrate the services needed to expedite planning and ensure continuity of care. Keeping patients in-house for high-value procedures, and supporting the process through smart software and virtual coordination.

Change and consolidation will continue in dentistry for the foreseeable future. That does not mean that the choices for practice owners and specialists are limited. New models will emerge combining proven technologies in unique ways to deliver better care for patients and opportunities for dental practitioners.

Follow our series on Moving Patient Care Forward

- Murat Cannoyan
  CEO, Patient Plus
  Add Me on LinkedIn

#dentistry #dentalspecialist #dentalstartup

Do Doctors Hate Selling?

One of the greatest medical mysteries of our time is the aversion doctors have toward selling.
Doctors “sell” all the time, but they hate “selling”.

Yet without selling the practice fails to grow. Payrolls can't be met. Services can't be delivered. Patients won’t get well.

What’s the disconnect?

In his 2015 book entitled “Adversaries Into Allies: Master the Art of Ultimate Influence”, sales guru Bob Burg argues that effective selling “... is about moving others to accept our ideas whether we’re deciding which movie to see with a friend, selling our product to a new prospect, or trying to get a better service from a difficult rep, we are selling on a constant basis.”

Effective doctors understand this. They ‘sell’ everyday. They persuade patients to comply with drug regimens. They convinced obese overweight patients on the importance of exercise. They nudge without needling.

The best doctors use a full repertoire of sales tactics (stagecraft) to effect good patient health.

  • Professional demeanor
  • Intimidation
  • Cold rationality
  • Good, ol’ fashioned guilt

When dealing with patient behaviors, a great doctor pulls out the stops. She truly believes in the ‘product’ she is selling.The conviction and confidence of her sales pitch comes through and can literally save a patient's life.

However when it comes to transactions that involve money, using any such tactics suddenly seems unethical. A medical device, a surgery, a treatment regimen can be absolutely necessary and highly efficacious, yet the doctor is reluctant to use those same powers of persuasion since he is the one that will get paid.

The issue is especially important for dentists, since 74 million US patients are not covered by insurance. So, as a matter of survival, dentists need to learn how to convince patients to obtain the necessary treatments they require, when no third party is paying the bill.


The Three E’s of Selling Dentistry

In her 2014 ebook, Selling Dentistry, author Janet Hagerman describes the three essential elements of ethical selling.

The first “E” is for ethics: treatments must be clinically indicated, objectively supported with documented examination findings, radiographs, periodontal screenings and other concrete diagnostic tools.

Hagerman’s second “E”, is being Effective.

As she explains:

“The difference between selling and educating is that the very definition of selling results in a specific action of Acceptance in exchange for monetary compensation. We can educate and motivate all day long, but how effective are we if our patient does not say yes to recommended treatment?”

In other words, monetary compensation does not necessarily undermine medical judgment or ethics. In fact, it can be argued that, for clinically indicated treatments, case acceptance and physician compensation is a fair and justified reward for good patient health.

Finally, Hagerman argues that the third “E” stands for “elegance”

“Sales skills will never be effective if they seem contrived forced awkward or fake. To be successful your approach must be genuine and confident yet calm and reassuring.”


Improving Your Selling Skills

As the publisher of Modern Healthcare magazine for more than 30 years, Chuck Lauer has spent a generation observing changes in the medical industry.

“Physicians are in a great position to sell... but it's not so easy to be successful.. it's much harder than it looks”

While some people think physicians are not natural born salespeople, they do have some great qualities that sales make people successful.

  1. Excellent listening skills
  2. Superior intelligence, especially deductive and inductive reasoning to diagnose medical conditions.
  3. Confidence
  4. A caring, empathetic attitude
  5. Ego: a desire to achieve

Well these skills are necessary to be a great salesperson, they are insufficient if they are accompanied with off-putting personality traits that alienate patients.

Finally the most important aspect of selling is actually closing the sale. This can be quite challenging even for sales people with years of experience. You have to get the patient to agree to treatment. So you need to understand how to cure that universal patient condition, cold feet.


Patient-to-Patient Selling

A relatively new phenomenon of selling is employing social networks where patients convince other patients through word-of-mouth endorsement.

This is the most powerful form of selling and it can be influenced and managed. In fact, PatientPlus is developing systems that accelerate the referrals, making it easier for enthusiastic patients to connect with your practice, and rewarding them when they do so.

Most doctors recognize the power of an online review to influence patient behavior. A bad review is likely to cause an otherwise strong referral from calling for an appointment. In fact 75% of patients surveyed said as much.

What about the good reviews? How can a good review turn into more new patients?

In a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, researcher Fred Reichheld established the concept of a net promoter: how many people would willingly promote -- minus those that may possibly detract from -- your practice. The “net” difference is an indication of the relative satisfaction of your customers.

Interestingly, if patients are asked a single question about their satisfaction with your practice, on a scale from 1 to 10, anyone who gives you a score of less than 7 is likely a detractor. Tough crowd.

These patients are not particularly thrilled by your service and in all likelihood they will not visit again. Further, they may damage your practice reputation through negative word of mouth.

In fact, you need to achieve a score of 9/10 or 10/10 before patients will become truly enthusiastic promoters of your practice.

These net promoters are not just the ones that leave you a 5-star review. These are the ambassadors that can absolutely grow your practice with positive word-of-mouth.


This is perhaps the best argument for embracing salesmanship in the practice of medicine. As an effective salesperson, you create more satisfied patients. And, in turn, you create passionate, enthusiastic sales people who can grow your practice.

Even better, our own audits of procedure revenue versus the marketing channel (source) of new patients found a remarkable statistic: patients who are referred by other patients are three times more likely to accept cases versus patients won from the internet.

In summary, being a good salesperson makes you a better doctor. So long as your clinical recommendations are sound, selling helps patients get better.

Further, by making those patients healthier, you are recruiting a new generation of salespeople. And the patients they bring in will be pre-sold on your clinical recommendations.

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Are you interested in a new platform that helps you recommend necessary procedures without giving patients the "hard sell"? Click here for a demo of the PatientPlus system.