Cynthia K. Brattesani, DDS
One of the most important elements of my dental practice is providing patients with the best care possible. Equally as important, I want them to know that my team and I care about their welfare. It’s a priority for me to demonstrate to them that I do care.
Recently, I’ve had some very positive feedback from my patients that has let me know they do realize I have their best interests at heart. This feedback usually occurs when they first experience what we can do with our digital radiography system.
It translates into patient comments such as, “Wow! I can’t believe this! It’s just wonderful!” Even more impressive is the fact that this show of appreciation takes place before I’ve had a chance to tell them about the many benefits of digital radiography.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the “Wow!” factor when your patients first see their X-rays displayed on a large-screen computer monitor. This first impression always is so positive and impressive that it veritably says to your patients, “This dentist is doing everything possible to ensure that I receive the best treatment available. He [she] really cares about me.”
Digital radiography is such an important part of the process of providing the best care possible to our patients that we make it part of the introductory tour for every new client who comes into the practice.
One of my team members takes new patients on a tour of the office. When they come to an operatory, patients are given a brief demonstration of our digital radiography capability. It sends a message of caring, right from the start.
During the course of the tour, team members make it a point to explain the other benefits of digital radiography - the ones that go deeper than the initial response.
First, patients are told about the tremendous reduction in radiation exposure that digital radiography provides compared to film X-rays. We explain that, depending on the film used in the older type of X-rays, the reduction in radiation can be as much as 90 percent. Again, they get the message. We’re doing everything possible to make sure they receive the safest treatment possible. As a result of adopting digital radiography, we’re significantly reducing patients’ exposure to potentially harmful radiation.
Another benefit patients receive is they don’t have to waste their time waiting for film X-rays to develop. They normally don’t think about this one until they’re in the chair and one of my team members or I have taken the first digital radiograph. Within a second or two of taking the X-ray, it appears on the computer monitor.
In cases where a single X-ray is all that’s needed, I can begin to analyze the image immediately after taking it and begin discussing my findings with patients. I also can show them exactly what I’m seeing, which reinforces my explanation of their dental problems. They no longer have to take my word for the treatment I’m recommending. With digital radiography, the patient is part of the process!
I can’t tell you what a tremendous “trust-builder” it is for patients to be involved in their diagnosis. This is a critical part of letting your patients know you care. The greater the level of trust, the greater the sense of well-being on the patient’s part.
One of my patients said it best when she first experienced our digital radiography system: “Doctor,” she said, “it should be a rule that all dentists have to use this.”
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, another way I’d say it is, “It should be a rule that dentists constantly show their patients they care.” Installing digital radiography is one of the best ways I can imagine to accomplish this goal.
A 1989 graduate of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, Dr. Brattesani maintains a private practice in San Francisco, Calif. She is an enthusiastic member of organized dentistry and has held many positions at the local, state, and national levels. In 1996, she received the prestigious American Dental Association Golden Apple New Dentist Leadership Award. She thoroughly enjoys helping new dentists start in private practice, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.