DEBRA MILLER | DIRECTOR OF COACHING
In businesses that are driven by salespeople, you often see a motivational activity around ringing a bell when a sale is made. In car dealerships, for example, they often have the customer themselves ring the bell to celebrate their purchase. In endodontics, we’re not in a sales-driven business but there is one thing you and your team should metaphorically ring the bell for: every time you schedule an emergency patient who is in pain.
Dental pain is the entire reason behind dentistry’s origins. From the Middle Ages until the early 1800s, a person experiencing dental pain would visit their local barber for a tooth extraction. Then, in the mid-1800s, dentistry and barbering diverged as (obviously) separate disciplines, which unofficially makes endodontists the oldest profession among dental practitioners.
Even with all the advances in preventive and restorative care, emergency endodontic care continues to be a significant part of our practices. Today, however, we’ve come a long way from the crude extraction forceps of a barber, with advanced root canal techniques that can quickly eliminate the pain while saving the tooth.
Every time an emergency patient calls the practice, it’s a reason to celebrate as an endodontist … not to celebrate their pain but to celebrate why endodontics is such a great profession. Aside from historical recognition, here are three reasons why you should love emergency patients in your modern practice:
1. The patient is committed
Endodontists probably suffer the most from patients who really don’t want to be there in the first place. But an emergency patient in pain is highly motivated to receive treatment, and that means they are highly committed. In short, that makes them a dream patient in many respects and less likely to cause administrative, scheduling and financial problems.
An emergency patient fundamentally respects you as a specialist, which means they are going to appoint for the first possible appointment time that your team recommends, and they show up on time. That appointment should ideally be the same day they call, and you can reserve time in your schedule every day where emergency patients can be appointed.
Emergency patients are also more committed to their treatment costs and prepared to pay in full whether they have insurance or not. They won’t hesitate to use their credit card or sign up for third party financing if they need to spread their copay costs out over time.
2. Emergency cases are (usually) easy
From a clinical perspective, emergency cases are often relatively easy. They are frequently the kind of cases that you have done many times and that you can do very quickly and efficiently. That makes them among the most productive cases you have in terms of revenue vs. time required. Scheduling emergency patients on the same day is one of the best ways to make sure you meet and exceed your productivity goals each day.
When emergency cases are more complicated, one common reason is that they are a retreatment case. Over two-thirds of root canals in the USA are performed by GPs, and they usually don’t have the same clinical tools (like cone beam) or clinical skills that you have. When one of their cases blow up and they need to refer the patient, it’s a great opportunity for you to build your collaborative relationship with the GP. They will grow to see you as a clinical partner and that leads them to understand how much easier it would be if they just referred their endodontic cases from the beginning.
3. Referring doctors are appreciative
Regardless of whether retreatment is involved or not, referring doctors are appreciative when you can get their patient out of pain quickly, and the patient returns to their office singing your praises. They pay attention to patient feedback and they like to hear patients tell them how well they were cared for in your office.
In fact, organizing your practice around efficient same-day treatment for emergency patients in pain is one of the most effective referral-building strategies in endodontics. When you plan your schedule for same-day emergencies and you commit to referrers that you will get their patients out of pain on the same day—and you prove that consistently without fail—then referring doctors learn to count on you more and more.
They’ll refer more cases because they know the patient will return happy, quickly, and ready for a final restoration. And that kind of restoration is an easy, highly productive case for them too, so everybody wins.
Endo Mastery Practice Coaching can help you and your team optimize and master the scheduling, productivity and marketing of emergency care in your practice. For more information, visit https://endomastery.com/practice-and-team-coaching/