This guest post is from Dr. Barry Polansky. Barry has been a friend and mentor over the years, has an incredible blog of his own and a must read book “The Art of The Examination”. Thank you Barry for allowing me to share some of your thoughts about patient relationships.
I bet I can guess one of the happiest moments in your practice. Maybe even better than a big case coming off the articulator and right into your patient’s mouth…no adjustments.
That’s a tall order but when I hear a patient say…”Whatever you say doctor…I trust you,” Well, that’s music to my ears. It just brings on a sigh of relief that tells me I can fully concentrate on my treatment plan because my presentation will be accepted.
That’s why trust is the killer app. Trust trumps everything else.
But knowing that is only half the battle – any salesman will tell you that. The key is to do what Dr. L.D. Pankey advised when he said, “Apply Your Knowledge.”
Well, how do you pull that one off? Or how do you become “trustworthy?”
I have an app for that. It’s called the Trust Equation.
It was first described by Charles Green, the co-author of The Trusted Advisor.
As a prerequisite to the app we must realize that every patient is asking us silent questions. That’s worth repeating—every patient is silently asking a few exploratory questions:
1. Can you do the job that I am here for? or, are you competent?
2. Do you care more about me than you do about anything else right now?
You can take those questions and change the language any way you want, but it always comes back to how Stephen Covey once described trust: care and competence. When your patient is confident that they can depend on you to do the best job, they trust you. Use the equation as you would use an app. Memorize it rather than downloading it.
The T stands for you level of trustworthiness. The higher the number will be reflected in your case acceptance percentage. I heard that the national average for dental case acceptance hovers around 20%. Most blame the economy, but I would look at the trust factor if you want to improve something.
C stands for your credibility. Many times this comes with the territory. It’s the doctor title that stands before your name. It’s yours to lose. Take it seriously and you will increase your competence throughout your career.
R stands for reliability. How dependable are you? Do you do what you say? Once again the competence factor. Leonard Berry the dean of “service” says that dependability and reliability are the two most important factors when people evaluate service.
I stands for intimacy, or how safe and secure the patient feels in your practice. If this isn’t a case for a comprehensive exam that includes a thorough pre-clinical exam, I don’t know what is. This is what Pankey meant by getting to know your patient.
Well you can really build your number up if you concentrated on the numerator (C+R+I). Really just by taking lots of CE and placing good systems in your practice, you can build that number.
But that’s usually not where trustworthiness breaks down. It’s in the denominator.
The S which stands for self-orientation. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is what accounts for those wonderful moments of truth where we really put the patient ahead of ourselves. This is where the skill of listening and focus takes over. This is the care factor. The emotional factor.
Using your mind and rational brain you can increase the numerator, but if the denominator goes up…it can literally kill a practice, or any business, or just about any relationship.
So, do you see why trust is the killer app? You don’t have to download it…just keep it in mind and watch your case acceptance go up in addition to your general sense of well being.
Dr. Robert Allen says
Very well said; I am closely affiliated and mentor senior dental students graduating from VCU dental school in Richmond Va. I do not see professors with any concern other than the clinical (not sure there is much of that either); however…I see very little philosophy of dental practice =trust being taught. I beliive the instructors in the schools have forgotten Pankey !!!
One of our imminent bloggers recently said we have no “stars” who go around the country expousing the Pankey philosophy any longer. It is disappearing and with it goes the trust of dentists.
Bob Allen, VCU 1959
Hi Bob– Your comment is quite interesting…just this morning I was discussing this with a patient. He was saying the same about doctors and lawyers. I told him that I plan on making this point when I speak at the Institute in September. I truly believe that whether in practice or in life when the focus is on the self— success cannot be achieved. As I was expressing it to him I became even more firm in my opinion. It is amazing to me that what is taught about happiness and success so revolves around what’s in it for me.