Uncategorized |5 min read

Jumping Through Hoops

Treatment Coordinators will have the highest case acceptance when they master the ability to read their new patient and successfully adjust their own personality to compliment that of the patient’s. The same thought applies to the new patient’s parent if the patient is a child.

Here are some common situations that come up in consultation room:

Scenario 1

 Helicopter Mom

o   The mom that wants to hold her child’s hand while you take photos, asks if you have a lead vest that covers the thyroid, or repeats everything you say to the patient because she thinks her child understands information better if it comes from her mouth.

o   What do you do?

Support it.  Pretend everyone does. You may not agree with her behavior, but this is what makes her feel comfortable. So direct everything through her- “Nancy, Dr. Straight Wire needs some pictures of Jimmy’s teeth and bite. I’m going to use these cheek retractors to hold his lips away from his teeth so we can get great pics of them. Do you want to hold the retractors for him? Or would you like to watch while you work on the paperwork?” Helicopter moms will require you to focus 50% on them and 50% on the pt. The appointment is half about them and half about the patient.

Scenario 2

The Engineer

o   More times than not, this tends to be a male. Whether it’s the patient or the father of the patient, this guy is going to want to know how each aspect of the treatment works, making sure it isn’t a gimmick.

o   What do you do?

Expect lots of clinical questions and be able to answer them thoroughly. He is not looking for short answers. “Well Dave, we start with very thin, flexible archwires that are made of nickel titanium and preformed to the ideal arch shape. It’s flexible so we can connect all the teeth together when they are in their most crooked state, and the preformed shape adds a constant light force, telling the teeth to align to that shape. Slowly but surely we will get the teeth perfectly straight by moving to stronger, stiffer wires made of different metals like stainless steel.”

Scenario 3

The Alpha Mom

o   This is the mom that scares you. She demanded that last appointment of the day because her child could NOT miss basketball practice and she’s 20 minutes late to the appointment because your office’s signage was hard to see from the freeway.

o   What do you do?

Be submissive. Let her take control (pick and choose your battles). There cannot be 2 alphas, so today she is in the pilot’s seat. Cater to her. “Susan, I’m sorry about that signage. I will see if we can’t make our logo a little brighter or moved to the other side of the parking lot. I bet a lot of people have run into the same issue. But you’re here now so kick your feet up and get comfortable. Can I get you some water or coffee while I take pictures of Jimmy’s teeth?” With Alpha moms, this is their world and we’re just living in it. Your focus needs to be on making her life more comfortable and convenient. Focus 70% on Alpha mom and 30% on the patient. Be careful, Alpha moms have a hard exterior, but sometimes this is just a show and these tend to be the parents that may not want to talk about financials in front of the patient!

Scenario 4

Cultural Differences

o   Let’s say you are a Caucasian woman from a small town in Texas and your patient is a teenage girl from India. Both of her parents are at the consultation with her and you are not sure how you are going to connect with them.

o   What do you do?

Start with the teenage patient. Universally, we all love our kids, so start building trust by becoming friends with the patient. That’s easy. Then bring the parents into the connection by asking them their thoughts of some of the things you and the patient are joking/talking about. This will open the door to finding connections with her parents that you can build on during the rest of the appointment. If I find out where in India they are from during our conversation, I ask about the food because I love Indian food! They are always amazed at how much I know about Indian food and we swap recipes. There are so many universal subjects to connect with during your consult that makes cultural backgrounds a nonissue- school, hobbies, work, travel, etc.. “Sumitra, what do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor?! That’s fantastic! Kurma, do you want her to stay in Texas during her pre-med studies or are you going to be ok if she looks out of state?” Asking questions like these during your photos helps everyone get to know each other and build a friendship.

Scenario 5

State Insurance

o   Some offices accept government funded insurance and other’s don’t. Straight Wire consultants prefer not to accept this type of insurance, so for this scenario, let’s assume that your office does not.

o   What do you do?

Treat this patient as if they do not have any insurance. There are many patients that are self-employed and will be paying solely out of pocket. Make sure you address the fact that your office cannot use the state funded insurance, but immediately spin it into a positive! “We checked into the insurance information you gave us Carrie, but unfortunately it is a state insurance and can only be used with a provider that is signed up with them. I don’t know of any orthodontists in the area that takes that type of insurance, but we can still make this work without the insurance benefit.” Present the fee estimate just as you would for a ‘cash patient’.  Sometimes you’ll find that a state insured patient comes from a low income household. If this is the case, get creative with your financial arrangement. It is not uncommon to present an option of breaking the down payment into multiple payments. You can also extend the monthly payments by 2 months into the retention phase to make sure that the monthly payment is low enough for this patient to be able to start treatment.

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