Working with Difficult Patients- 9
Want more? Read from the beginning of the series at Working with Patients You Want to Punch in the Face.
Difficult patients come in all personality styles. Some difficult patients are easy to spot while some are stealthy and quiet. Understanding the different social (communication) styles will help you identify and connect with all patients.
Difficult Patient #9: The Blamer
Problem: You get a call from a screaming patient saying you need to pay for their treatment from another doc because you missed ‘it’. You take the berating and after too long of a conversation politely say you will look back at your records and get back with them. Your notes show suggested treatment for said tooth, signed consents from the patient, and two missed appointments…three years ago!
Reality: When something goes wrong it’s human nature to want to understand a cause and find something or someone to blame. It’s rare to find a patient that asks the highly, reflective question, “What’s my role in this,” or “How am I to blame?” Are these the types of questions you find yourself asking frequently? Probably not. It goes against human nature to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations and freely accepting blame can be a very uncomfortable place.
Solution: There are several steps you can take to avoid working with the Blamer. First, be relentless with your current patients to ensure they complete all accepted treatment. Which you will proactively engage with them so that you get paid for your efforts instead of being reactive and waiting until they show up or the phone rings. Second, have clear processes and systems in place to track and follow up with patients that continue to postpone or cancel a treatment. Third, your front desk must be effectively trained in speaking with patients, diverting cancellations, and gaining commitment to proceed with accepted treatment. Letting a patient cancel should not be allowed easily.
Step 9: Read up on Social Styles. You will find an amazing amount of information on Google.
Comment space below. Have at it!
The last two will really make a difference for you. Working with Difficult Patients- 10
Photo by: Ambro
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