So your patients are healthy and have no sleep issues … Ask more questions!

Sept. 23, 2013
In most dental practices, we have a nice number of healthy patients. These happy paying patients are the ones that we would like to duplicate ...

by JoAn Majors

In most dental practices, we have a nice number of healthy patients. These happy paying patients are the ones that we would like to duplicate, but we often don't have a system to get referrals from these individuals. If you read my articles, by now you realize that I like to ask more questions, and I believe the team should play a big role in getting new patients without spending a ton of money to do it.

My thought is that instead of spending the entire recare or wait time discussing ESPN or the latest trial, let's do something positive to help build the practice. We do this with knowledge, understanding, and asking the right questions. This is easier than you think if you just devote a little time to understanding more about sleep apnea or sleep disorders. Ask your doctor his or her philosophy and thoughts as well as his or her recommended reading on the subject. I used the American Sleep Apnea Association for the facts contained in this article, and to help provide a basis for how you can assist patients in growing your practice and bottom line, as long as your intent is in the right place.

For the first scenario, a patient is in the chair waiting for the doctor to conduct an exam or treatment. I ask the patient if they have heard much about sleep disorders and wait for their responses. Based on their comments, I might reply with something like this: "I had heard about it too. However, recently I learned from the American Sleep Apnea Association that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Also, 80% of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea is undiagnosed in the U.S. This really surprised me. It made me want to talk to all my patients about it. If you know someone who has concerns or questions, we treat certain sleep disorders in our office and we're here to help."

This conversation opens the door for more questions from patients for themselves or even for someone they know. Many times hygienists or assistants will hear patients say, "I didn't even know you did that here," referring to sleep services, implant services, or any other optional services we have in our practices.

After asking the question of the patient, you can give them as much data as you want. Share that when left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, or depression. It has even been linked to traffic accidents. When you start learning and asking questions, a new world of care can open up. Serve the patients you may not have even seen yet by asking questions!

When we take the time as team members to learn with more intention about the care and treatment our doctor offers, it takes on a whole new meaning. Most of us in dentistry have a service attitude; we just need to commit to the additional learning that can create value for the practice. Additional services such as these can be confusing for team members who don't feel comfortable talking about treatment options with higher fees. Ask your administrative team about outside financing options such as CareCredit, and make sure you have the objection of money on the back burner and good health on the front! The key to treatment, as my mentor, Walter "Itsy Bitsy" Hailey, often said is "Make it easy for patients to do what you want them to do and hard for them to do what you don't want them to do." Get some rest and I will see you on the road!

JoAn Majors is a professional speaker, published author and RDA. She is the program creator of The Million Dollar Manager and The Significant Spouse workshops. To have her speak to your group or learn more go to: or call (866)51-CHOICE.

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