If the patient feels that you talked them into treatment, chances are, you’ll be blamed if anything goes wrong. The Empowerment Message puts patients at ease and tends to remove any notion of sales pressure. It’s a good example of pre-emptive communications.
Before examining the mouth, it makes sense to deliver an Empowerment Message.
“Jennifer, I’m now going to examine your mouth. We’ll take some photos, we’ll look at the photos together and I’ll explain what’s happening. Then, if there is anything to discuss, I’ll give you all the options, but I wont tell you what to do.
You can decide to do whatever you want and I’ll support your decision 100% provided I’m clear that you understand the pros and cons of your decision. The reason I do this is that sometimes dentistry can be expensive… in the range of tens of thousands and I can’t make financial decisions for you.
Does that make sense?
The only time I make any recommendation is when I see something that could threaten your general health.
Are you comfortable with that approach?”
Now let’s analyze the Empowerment Message.
1. “I’ll give you all the options, but I wont tell you what to do.”
You are giving the patient the sense of full control of their decisions.
Why is this important?
Humans are very sensitive when it comes to all matters relating to losing control. A strong recommendation for treatment is easily felt as a loss of control for the patient. This can cause the patient to resent you.
2. “I’ll support your decision 100%”
This tells them you wont try and talk them out of their decisions. You’re taking away any perception of sales.
3. “Provided I’m clear that you understand the pros and cons of your decision.”
This gives you a get out of jail card. If they make a poor decision, you can simply say
“that’s fine. Before we settle on that, remember I mentioned that it’s my responsibility to know that you’re clear on all the pros and cons of any decision; so can you briefly tell me what you see are the advantages and disadvantages of that decision.”
Now if the patient made a poor decision, you still have the ability to discuss this further. It will be difficult for them to show the advantages of a poor decision; so it’s not over.
4. By mentioning “tens of thousands” we have psychologically implanted a high benchmark. Chances are, whatever fee we ultimately mention, will be viewed as comparatively less that the high fee we alluded to in the decision statement.
5. “The only time I make any recommendation is when I see something that could threaten your general health.”
We have a legal obligation to make a strong recommendation if the treatment is medically essential.
So if I see oral cancer or an impacted wisdom tooth or infection I can still strongly suggest treatment for these cases because I prepared the patient with my Empowerment Message.
Dr Sernik is the creator of Channel D, a bespoke video system for the reception room.
Using a combination of clever scripting and humor, the patients will become more curious about what treatments you provide. This leads to in-depth conversations, more treatments and more referrals.
You can see all of Channel D videos for free by subscribing.
See channeld.com for more information.