Creating value for CT scans

March 1, 2012
Today’s technology can be overwhelming to learn, much less understand and create value for patients.

BY JoAn Majors

Today’s technology can be overwhelming to learn, much less understand and create value for patients. It’s no secret that the team and doctor often think differently when it comes to new technology.

No secret, too, is that many times when a recommendation for a product or service is made by the doctor, the patient will turn to the team member after the doctor leaves and say, “What would you do?” or “What did he/she say?” Then the acceptance or rejection of treatment lies in the hands of the team member, who may or may not have been trained in verbal skills that create value for a particular service.

A simple beginning to establish value for the CT scan — or any X-ray for that matter — is to not use terminology we have used in the dental practice for years. For example, we were trained to say, “the cavity detecting X-rays” or “the necessary X-rays.”

What about creating value by using the person who has the most perceived power in the practice? The doctor.

Try offering a different approach simply by using information from the doctor, such as “When reviewing your chart this morning, the doctor ordered these X-rays. Do I have permission to take the X-rays the doctor ordered so they will be ready when the doctor comes in and you won’t have to wait?” Create value in both the service and the time involved by offering it this way.

With CT scans, it becomes more complex. Creating value for what some patients and team members perceive as an expensive X-ray is not easy. We encourage you to point out things that are not obvious. Where standard X-rays are 2-D, these cone beam scans are 3-D.

Where the nerve is located is not a prediction; it’s now proven. Recently, an oral surgeon client who has practiced 30-plus years and placed implants, as well as many other tedious surgeries over his career, said, “I know I can do it without the scan; I did for years. However, I do the scan today because it’s what’s right and best for patients. A lot of things are changing, and it doesn’t matter how good I was. It’s about how good I can be. If you close your mind, you’ll be left behind.”

I love his answer; it makes sense. My husband often says, “The more I know, the more I know that I don’t know.”

My father-in-law did not do bonded dentistry. He did many amalgams, and so did everyone else. This does not mean that he could practice dentistry today the way he did when he graduated from dental school in 1951.

The team needs to have an understanding, and most of all, a belief in the treatment options available today. If this is not the case, your patients will not receive the enthusiasm they deserve about these amazing services. Most companies will offer training for your team when you purchase this equipment.

Think about a woman who has a lump in her breast. Imagine that she calls to get a mammogram and is told she cannot get one for 10 days. What do you think she’s going to be thinking about every moment of those 10 days? The lump, of course!

Well, if we offer patients an unparalleled reason or create real value for the CT scan, they will choose the service. Whether a patient is in your office, or is referred to a surgeon who has a CT scanner, or to an imaging center, much thought and discipline needs to be devoted to the discussion about the scan.

We often tell patients that the only proven way to have 100% predictability on bone width or density, nerve location, or whatever is the patient’s situation, is to do a CT scan. We follow this by asking the patient, “Does this make sense?” If you ask and wait, the person will answer. Keep the patient engaged, and you will create value.

Until next time, here’s a quote to contemplate from the book EncourageMentors – “Something is not really a mistake unless you fail to learn from it.”

See you on the road.

JoAn Majors is a registered dental assistant, published author, and professional speaker. In addition to her speaking, she holds the faculty team training position for the Misch International Implant Institute. For more information on JoAn’s seminars and her books, visit or call (866) 51-CHOICE. The time is now; the choice is yours!

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