Quality expectations -Stephen Norman –Private Implant prosthetics Manager at Sparkle Laboratory

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  Posted by: The Probe      22nd April 2019

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – patient expectations are rising and it is the dental team’s job to both meet them and manage them as best we can. While it is not unfair for them to expect quality care every time, some can be unrealistic about can actually be achieved. Managing their expectations involves effective patient communication, with dentists, dental hygienists and clinical dental technicians best positioned to help patients better understand their dental health condition and any procedures that may be required.

Rising expectations

Meeting patients’ expectations has been linked with higher patient satisfaction within the healthcare environment.[1],[2]For dental practices, the benefits of happy patients are vast, as they can have a very positive impact on the morale of the professional team, as well as the business’ reputation, profitability and growth. Positive online reviews, as well as recommendations to family and friends, are in fact often the most effective forms of marketing for dental practices today. It follow that happy patients makes for more referrals. In addition, satisfied patients are more likely to become repeat visitors, in turn supporting the long-term sustainability of the practice as well.

However, achieving patient satisfaction by meeting their expectations does not come without its challenges. With greater access to information and more scrutiny of how they spend their money, most patients will form certain expectations regarding the quality of services they receive in every area of their lives. This certainly extends to their dental care, where they will often seek significant improvement in function and/or aesthetics for a reasonable price. While this seems completely reasonable, in some cases, their expectations are unrealistic when taking into account their starting situation, existing oral hygiene or financial situation.

For example, they may present seeking a smile just like their favourite celebrity, but simply don’t have the same shaped mouth or skeletal base, or they might want to go from few natural dentition and aggressive periodontitis to a full mouth of gleaming white and healthy teeth. Whatever the situation, management of these patients’ expectations is crucial if the dental team is ever going to deliver treatment outcomes that both they and their patients are happy with.

Management techniques

Managing patient expectations has consequently become an important aspect of the modern dental team’s role. Here comes another buzz phrase in dentistry that is completely true is this situation – communication is key. During appointments, the need for treatment and an explanation of the processes involved should be detailed. The patient should also be very clear about what the likely outcome of treatment will be, any limitations that are being faced, the potential costs and their own responsibility to maintain results in the long-term.

A simple conversation explaining the importance of resolving periodontal disease for long-term restorative success, for example, will help the patient to understand how and why their behaviours affect treatment. They may also be more accepting of the need for periodontal therapy before bridges or implants can be placed, and therefore less apposed to the extra cost.

Additional tools like digital images can prove invaluable during the diagnosis and treatment planning stages, for the same reason. They enable the patient to see exactly what and were the problem is, improving their understanding of the procedure(s) proposed. Equally, digital mock-ups can help patients to visualise what they may look like following treatment. This can serve to highlight any limitations of treatment and prevent the patient from expecting unachievable results. It can also provide sufficient motivation to improve patient compliance and encourage them to maintain the results for longer.

Delivering on promises

Once professional and patient expectations are in alignment, it’s important to ensure that you have the ability to deliver. This means utilising evidence-based clinical techniques that have been shown to provide effective and predictable outcomes. It means using cutting-edge technologies that facilitate a precise and efficient workflow. It also means employing only those materials that you trust to deliver safe, aesthetic and durable results. With consideration of all these elements will you be able to fulfil your promise to the patient and enjoy the benefits of their satisfaction upon treatment completion.

With this in mind, it is equally as important that your dental laboratory uses high quality materials. Especially in cases where complex/high-end prosthetics or implant-retained restorations are required, the lab materials could have a huge impact on the treatment outcome. By working with a business like Sparkle Dental Labs, you can have complete confidence that your team of technicians will use only the best materials the dental market has to offer, including the innovative REF-LINE teeth from PoliDent and technology supplied exclusively by the industry-leading John Winter & Co.

While some patient expectations may be unrealistic, it is totally fair for them to expect quality dental care. By using high quality materials, technologies and concepts, the dental team can ensure quality every time.

 

For any additional information please call 0800 138 6255 or email customerservice@sparkledentallabs.comor visit:

www.sparkledentallabs.com

 

[1]Zebiene E, Razgauskas E, Basys V, Baubiniene A, Gurevicius R, Padaiga Z, Svab I. Meeting patients’ expectations in primary care consultations in Lithuania. International Journal for Quality in Health Care. February 2044. 16(1);83–89 doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzh006

[2]Schaaninger C, Ventura A, Simmons T, Hart KW, Lindsell CJ, Pancioli A. 208 patient expectations: Are we meeting them and do they affect patient and provider satisfaction? Annals of Emergency Medicine. October 2014. 64(4);S75-S76


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