During The Dawson Academy’s Treatment Planning Functional Esthetic Excellence Course, we teach students to integrate the information and records gathered during the New Patient Exam. I have noticed that a recurring issue for doctors is how to effectively bridge the gap between their records and the patient’s wants, needs, objections, and confronting problems.
The answer lies in Digital Photography. This a fantastic tool can be used to address the frustrations of patient communication and ownership of the patient’s dental issues. Our society has developed into a society of visual learners, where a picture is worth a 1000 words. Doctors can use these pictures to create a frame of reference of their patient’s overall dental health. In conjunction with asking patients open-ended questions, digital photography is a great communication tool for both new and existing patients.
In my office, the clinical staff takes 4 screening photographs: full face, smile, upper and lower occlusal. These four photos are quickly printed on high quality photo paper. The patients are given the photos and are asked,” Tell me what you see?” Then we shut-up and listen to the patient. This process ranks as one of the most important parts of the new patient process.
This exchange helps define the patient’s impression of their dentition, and gets them to talk about their own dental needs, which guides us to our next step. If the patient is ready and shows signs of instability, then we have them return for a set of full photographic records, which is laid out in The Dawson Academy Photographic Series.
From these photographs we can then review every aspect of the mouth on a flat screen monitor.
This is invaluable for:
* Diagnosis – allows the dentist a different perspective
* Understanding and documentation of issues and conditions
* Leading to more patient ownership and shared responsibility
The next time we meet with the patient, we have a portfolio of before and after photographs highlighting the answers to the problems we are facing, and allowing possibility thinking and visualization of the end result. The aspect of digital photography is really one of our best tools for communication in dentistry. Now while I love my neatly mounted study models, those are best used for understanding, and not for the generating patient excitement.
Getting started is easy. I recommend a pre-programmed quality digital camera for dentistry, a quality HP Photosmart Inkjet printer and a Dawson Photographic Training DVD. This entire investment can be made for under $2500, but the results will more than pay for themselves in no time. With these tools in your practice, your team will be taking great photos and bridging the treatment communication gap with your patients.