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What is a treatment presentation and how do you make sure your patient moves forward with it?

A few weeks ago I noticed a lump on my neck. Worried, I made it to my dermatologist to have a look. I figured the round, well circumscribed 5mm lesion was benign but I needed to be sure. After a careful exam Dr. B said it’s likely a cyst, I have a few options. He can try a needle biopsy and if fluid comes out, it’s a cyst and he’ll get it out. If no fluid comes out, he’ll do an incisional biopsy and send to pathology. Insurance covered the incisional biopsy but not the needle biopsy and cyst removal. I obviously told him this needed to get done so he can move ahead. NO fluid comes out. He does the biopsy. A week later results come in it’s a dermatofibroma, I knew it was benign, but i still do not want the lump on my neck so I go to a head and neck surgeon to remove it, again this is not covered by insurance, its fee for service. No photos, no models, no “presentation”. I have a problem, he has a solution we move ahead and remove the fibroma.

As dental clinicians we are constantly bombarded with the idea that patients need to be “presented” with treatment in order for them to move forward with it. I have always had an issue with that. The patient has a problem(diagnosis) and we have the solution(treatment) why then do we need to present the solution? It makes no sense, the head and neck guy did not talk to me about the procedure he was going to do, or how he was going to cut my neck, he just talked about what I wanted (the problem) and we got it done for a fee.

We need to change our approach. We should not be presenting treatment, we should be presenting diagnosis. Once our patients understand the problem, they will want your solution and proceed with treatment.

So now the big question, how do we do a diagnosis presentation? This is really easy:
“Mrs. Jones you came in with your panoramic xray which shows multiple teeth that are failing. They are loose and unable to support your bite, you can’t chew. Your front teeth have lost so much bone that they are nearly falling out. You have a severe gum infection that is not reversible.”

Mrs. Jones already knows all this, I haven’t really told her anything new. I summarized her problem, I have not talked about a treatment. Once you present the problem, it is human nature to ask for a solution, which is what Mrs. Jones will say…. “what can we do about that?”

That is it. That is the presentation. She knows what she needs to solve her problem. If she is ready for it and wants the problem solved she will move forward, if not she will be back another day or go somewhere else where she is more comfortable for whatever reason.

Your best “presentation” is done to people that know their problem and are ready to move forward.

What is your best “presentation” technique?

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