How Scripts Can Facilitate Patient Education

By William J. Moorhead, D.M.D.

In years past, when a clinician made a recommendation, the patient almost always accepted the treatment plan and proceeded with the procedure. A lot has changed since then. With the advent of the internet, patients often want time to do their own research before making a treatment decision because they feel the need to look out for their own self interest.

You may already know the concept of co-diagnosis—the term used to describe the process where patients are guided through a self-discovery of their problems. Technology now helps us tremendously in this process, with intraoral cameras and digital photographs and radiographs.

If you take digital photographs early in the examination appointment, you give patients the opportunity to see their actual conditions—and own their problems before the doctor performs the exam. Most patients expect far fewer issues than are actually present. By seeing the evidence firsthand, however, their self discovery improves case acceptance.

A script can help team members facilitate the self-discovery process. To be effective, scripts should include fact-finding questions like these:

  • Do you see anything you’re concerned about?
  • Is there anything you’d like to change about your smile?
  • Anything else? (Keep repeating this question until patients finish their observations)

Analogies are another effective way to guide patients through the self-discovery process. When analogies are part of your script, patients can create pictures in their minds and grasp their clinical situation more easily than with straight facts.

In our practice, we place our scripts in locations that are easily accessible, like on a tablet or a monitor situated behind the patient, which increases their use dramatically. The dental assistant can glance at them as needed.

Sample scripts
Below is an example of a script we use during the examination process.

Come see me at the Summit to learn more about the benefit of using scripts in your practice. I’ll also demonstrate the advantages of applying systems to everything you do in your practice.

If you haven’t already registered for the Summit, I am pleased to offer you some incentive to do it today. Here’s $200 off your registration!  Just enter code BLOG when you register.

I can’t wait to see you in November at the Summit in Orlando.

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