What is a Lack of Confluence?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What We Have Here Is a Lack of Confluence: As you know, the outcome you can get for your patient is so often a matter of their choices, not “just” your clinical skills. Put another way, if you could give your patients a magic pill that would have them understand, value and act on Dentistry to the same degree you would, it would do more for them than if you took a magical pill to further enhance your clinical skills.

In every practice there is a gap between what you can do for patients and what they choose to have done. This can lead to frustration, compromised care and tens of thousands of dollars in lost income per year.

It may give you some comfort that you’re not alone. This is common to all health care. Just looking at pharmaceuticals:

According to Reuter’s, 22% of prescriptions are not filled, 28% are first time prescriptions (this was a study based in Massachusetts of 75,000 patients).
From Consumer Reports (2007) in a large study of over 79,000 people, fully 3/4 who got a prescription in the previous 12 months said they had not filled a prescription, skipped a dose, forgot to take a drug or had taken less than the recommended treatment.
Furthermore, 25%–50% of the people with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol stopped taking the medications as directed within a year.
All of this costs millions and millions of dollars and immeasurable loss to people’s health. In medicine the term they used to use was “patient compliance.” Nowadays, the phrase used is “confluence.”

Once you and your staff really own the fact that patients’ choices are critical to the quality of the care you can deliver, you will automatically start investing more and more of your energy and time into patient communication and other items that will help to positively influence their behavior. This affects your decisions regarding Continuing Ed, the technology you use (buying that intra-oral camera or CAESY for example), and even the staff you choose (obviously you want staff people who convey a positive attitude, communicate well and enthusiastically believe in your/their Dentistry).

There is just as much or more range of services delivered per patients between dental offices as number of patients seen. If you want to produce more, you have to see more people or do more for the people you see. For most of you, doing more for the people you see is the quickest and most satisfying way to growth. That growth gives you the resources (income) you need to further invest in the practice (e.g., practice advertising, website, technology, staff, etc.).

The care should drive the numbers, not the other way around.That is, if you and your staff have “Clinically Calibrated” so you’re in agreement about what criteria calls for the various sorts of treatments (everything from crowns to x-rays), the numbers will move! This approach is the opposite to using “quotas” where the numbers drive the recommendations.

Patient confluence is important but as important is making sure that you and your staff are presenting your best options in the first place. Ironically, more patient care is not delivered because of providers’ fear of rejection than actual patient rejection.

Posted by Bill Rossi at 2:59 PM
Labels: Advanced Practice Management, advertising, Bill Rossi, dental office profitability, Dental Practice Overhead, Staff management, technology, website