I was reading an article in the Medical Futurist entitled “Healthcare Must Shift From Chance to Choice” in which the author is advocating that patients and their healthcare providers should embrace innovative digital solutions that lead to informed decisions about our health or disease, eliminating the massive amount of luck that we now rely on to stay healthy. One of the initiatives advocated for health care professionals is to advertise that they are receptive to patients when it comes to engaging in conversation about digital tools so that patients feel free to discuss Dr Google’s diagnosis or their sleep history as recorded on their mobile phone.
The idea that we have to ‘advertise’ what we are prepared to talk about is, in my opinion, an interesting one from a business perspective. I heard three stories this month from dental patients, each increasingly frustrated about not knowing the cost of their dental treatment before treatment started. In one case, a dentist advised a patient that he needed a root canal, commenced the treatment, could not achieve the necessary level of pain control, said she could not finish the treatment and charged for her time and materials. The patient went back to his usual dentist who decided not to do a root canal but just to do a filling. In another case, the patient, a Gunz employee, was charged for fluoride gel and a varnish treatment in the one scale and clean appointment, the dentist delivering the additional services without communicating with the patient about what they were doing.
Of course, this is just the patients’ view, but for them, perception is reality and reinforced to me the old saying that “good communication is both a sword and shield”. Effective interactions improve team function and can be a powerful motivator of behavioural change for patients, and improve health outcomes. Similarly, good communication can be a key defence against complaints and claims and we should always be asking ourselves what we are doing well, what can we do better and what do we need to stop doing when we communicate. I think we should also be thinking about how we make staff and customers alike comfortable, to ask questions, to engage in conversation about their concerns. From a Gunz Dental perspective, we love to have your feedback – good or bad – about how we are doing or what we need to do to help you to provide the best possible care. Please feel free to phone us in Australia on 02 9935 6677 or in NZ on 09 522 5060 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your business last month and we look forward to helping you to provide the best possible care in the coming months.