by Howard Ong, DDS, MAGD
This article is the last of a series of three, one building on the other. The first was Culture of Leadership and the second was Engagement for Alignment. The third in this series is the end result of the first two. In other words, if the principles of the first two articles are understood and mastered, the concept of “Building Value for Case Acceptance” is a natural by-product.
Your Optimal Goal – Value
Leading patients to the best health care choice is our optimal goal. It certainly is not instant, but rather a process, one building on the next. Now that we have identified processes in the first two articles, recognizing the concept of culture and skills of leadership to the power of engagement and alignment, we can effectively build value for case acceptance. The principles mentioned above create a sustained atmosphere of “yes”. In today’s high information world, multi-ethnicity, and various generations, being an expert on something only goes so far. Our patients expect us to provide information, risks, and benefits of treatment, but only when we give them value for the treatment you or your team recommend, is when a chance at case acceptance is possible. Patients know the reason they should move forward with care, but that a reason is different than a value. A reason is why we get things; value is the benefit(s) for getting those things. Translating this to your patients will elevate you and your team from ordinary to extraordinary.
Not only is there a strategy to share values of treatment to your patient, but also an effort by the patient to receive those values to make a decision on treatment you are recommending. Providing clarity on this two-way street is our job, and the key ingredient is communicating the benefits of treatment. Unlike the concepts in the first two articles, case acceptance is a metric that can be measured. A clinician’s ability to succeed in patient care delivery is directly related with their communication skills. It is important to measure the percentage of case acceptance. Only then can you evaluate how effective your communication skills are.
How to Build Value
To achieve high and sustained case acceptance, an authentic relationship-based experience with a willingness to serve our patient is a great start.
Traditionally, however, we depend on the foundation of core values like trust, honesty, and integrity and the goodwill of our profession of those that have come before us. We bring the value add of our education and experience. We use models, simulations, testimonials, etc. As clinicians we may think that this is enough, but it makes our patients one-dimensional. We are missing so much more.
Traditional methods create a one-way street; our job as leaders is to achieve a two-way exchange by elevating our patients’ thought processes. We do this by discovering our patients’ expectations and translating it to how we can serve them. Your patient may be asking how treatment will improve their lifestyle; can we show them how that could happen? A patient might wonder how uncomfortable a procedure is; can we alleviate their fear of discomfort? Others might wonder how they can afford therapy; is there a path to purchase today? Remember, your patients have already given their permission to listen to recommended treatment; our responsibility is to lead them to those health care choices you recommend. Otherwise, why recommend anything at all? Two questions that may help your value system are: 1) What is the problem you are trying to solve? and 2) Why are you the one to solve it?
Another factor for case acceptance is the patient experience. The experience I am talking about is not a one-time event but a process you, your team, and your practice creates. Does your culture create a brand patients recognize as exemplary? Does your leadership style create leaders and serve your patients expectations? Are you and your team engaged to create systems and protocols that make team members accountable? Is alignment at a level where pride and consistency is evident from a patient perspective? Are you providing value-added benefits to your patients? If you are providing a level of experience your patients love, then it is a result of several layers all leading to…yes!