Translating Dental Speak: Learning how to Talk to Patients in Language They Actually Understand!

 

When you are highly specialized and live in a technical world, you can start to use lingo that your patients don’t understand. As a dentist, this is detrimental to your close rate on dental procedures that bring in revenue and promote healthy mouths for your patients. 

 

If you can get your patients to understand what you’re saying and why the procedure is important, you can achieve both growth for your practice AND improve the health of your patients. The trick is that the patients need to comprehend what you’re talking about. 

 

Here are a few tips to help you help your patients:

 

  1. Get feedback.  Find a handful of patients to survey about their experience. Design your questions so that the answers will reveal how well the patients understood the treatments you proposed and performed. When you know how people actually are comprehending you, you can make adjustments accordingly. Feedback is a great tool that dentists can use.

 

  1. Dumb it down. People don’t really care about the proper scientific name of a procedure; they care about the why, how and process to do it. We all know the look when we’re speaking over someone’s head. People’s eyes glaze over, and they start nodding and stop verbally responding. Explain what a root canal is in common language and even write it down how you would say it.  A good tool to use is The Writer, an online tool that tests how easy your written copy is to understand. (http://www.thewriter.com/what-we-think/readability-checker/)

 

  1. Use analogies and examples.  Stories sell and help patients understand the need for a particular procedure. It always helps to bring in a scenario they can understand.

 

  1. Provide handouts.  Whether you provide resources on your website or you hand your patients information, these resources help patients remember your verbal conversation, as well as connect more dots in their own minds as to why a specific procedure might be helpful.

 

  1. Ask for questions.  Always, always, always, allow silence and space for the patient to ask any questions. Remember that your body language, facial expressions and tone of voice need to be open and respectful. Make your patient feel like there are no stupid questions to ask. 

 

So many of the dental procedures you suggest are necessary for the health of your patient’s mouth and entire body. That is why it is so important that you can effectively communicate what you are proposing to do and why it has value. Some basic communication skills can go a long way to helping you grow your revenue and grow your patient’s trust in your care.