Is your practice sending a positive message to patients? Are you demonstrating that you have their best interests at heart? And is your team committed to sending the right message?
The notion that a dental practice “sends a message” is somewhat new. Most dentists haven’t thought in those terms. With the advent of new technology and the changes it brings to practicing dentistry, we’ve become more aware of how important patients’ perceptions can be.
The fundamental new technology that sends the right message is digital radiography. I’m not talking about putting up a good front; I’m talking about showing your patients that you do everything to provide them with the safest, most effective diagnostic tools available. That’s the way to send the right message.
Let’s talk about a few ways digital radiography helps send the right message. First, there is the WOW! factor. When a patient first sees an X-ray image of his or her teeth displayed on a large computer monitor, that patient is amazed. Immediately you send a positive message that makes patients take notice.
That big-screen image sends a positive message in a more important way. Images increase patients’ understanding of your diagnoses and treatment recommendations because they actually see the basis on which you make decisions. Patients are aware when you involve them in the process. I’ve had numerous patients comment on how much more they like the digital diagnosis process than that of film. Suddenly, it’s clear to them.
And then there’s the safety factor. One of my team or I explain to patients before they begin treatment that one reason my practice adopted digital radiography is that it reduces their exposure to radiation by as much as 90 percent compared to film. Again, we send an important message here: Digital practices value the health interests of their patients. It is the primary concern.
That digital radiography is more efficient than film becomes part of the positive message you send when you adopt this technology. Patients no longer have to sit idle in a chair while a team member spends 10 or 12 minutes developing and mounting film X-rays. With my digital radiography system, images are automatically displayed exactly the way I specify - just as I would have mounted them had they been film radiographs.
Wasted time for patients can be spent engaging with dentists during diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Studies show this has increased treatment acceptance by as much as 40 percent.
I’ve also found that the way team members approach their jobs affects the message my practice sends. Without any doubt, digital radiography improved our work environment. We encounter no hassles with chemicals and mounts, and we don’t have to search through file folders for tiny 2-by-2 film radiographs. The improved morale that results from installing digital radiography translates into the message we send patients.
Investigate installing digital radiography today. It’s an indispensable part of my practice, and I’m sure it will be just that for yours.
Dr. Cynthia Brattesani maintains a private practice in San Francisco. She was awarded the prestigious ADA Golden Apple New Dentist Leadership Award in 1996. She is an enthusiastic member of organized dentistry, having held positions at the local, state, and national levels. You may reach her at email@example.com.