The Importance of Explaining New Technology to Patients
It is a known fact that not everyone is thrilled about visiting their dentist. Dental visits can be more intimidating if the patient is unaware of what’s going to happen. You and your team should always take the time to communicate treatment plans, new technology, and practices with your patients. Dental hygienists interact with patients quite frequently, so it should come naturally that your hygienists take the lead on explaining new technologies and practices to patients. Your patients will greatly appreciate being included.
Explaining new technology to patients can be easier said than done. It’s important to read into each patient and tailor the message accordingly. In this article, we discuss the importance of explaining new technology to patients and how you can do so.
Explaining New Technology to Patients: Tech-Savvy Patients
Living in the world today, it is no surprise that there are tech-savvy patients. These patients readily welcome new technology in their own lives, and they can quickly grasp the workings of a new device. Within this group, many sub-categories exist, and dental hygienists can adapt various approaches to explain the new technology to these patients. The following are some suggestions on how to do this.
Explain the new technology.
The tech-savvy patient will immediately want to know how a given technology works and how his or her health can benefit from the device. You can start by giving a brief explanation to the patient and even demonstrate how the technology works. For instance, you could briefly use the LUM Transillumination device to show the patient the areas of his or her teeth. Tech-savvy patients will likely appreciate your efforts in keeping up with the latest dental technology.
When a patient shows excitement towards your office’s new dental technology, share the same excitement, and highlight how the device can elevate their dental care. You’ll instantly build rapport with the patient. You may even receive a referral or two.
Some patients won’t show any reaction towards your new devices. Patients who are heavily tech-savvy are likely to expect nothing less. We still recommend briefly explaining the new technology, but keep it short and sweet.
Sometimes, patients may exhibit a high degree of interest in the way a particular Digital Doc device works. Such patients are a gem because they have just revealed how they can be kept engaged. Dental hygienists can come up with several ways, such as emailing them photos of the technology at work, so that this deep interest is nurtured to raise the profile of the dental office in the minds of such patients.
Explaining New Technology to Patients: Patients Who Are Averse to Technology
At the other extreme of the technology, spectrum is patients who are averse to technology. This type of patient needs to be handled delicately when new dental technology is introduced to the dental office. The following suggestions can help to address the concerns of tech-averse patients.
Explain the technology to them.
You don’t need to be as detailed when explaining as you would if you were explaining to a tech-savvy patient. In fact, offering too many details to technology-averse patients can be counterproductive since they may become confused. Instead, be as brief as possible. For example, when explaining how the IRIS X80 Liquid Lens intraoral camera works, you can just point out its crystal-clear images as a better way to detect cavities early. Such an explanation will portray the necessity of the technology and hopefully make the patient more willing to accept its use during their treatment.
Patients with reservations.
Some tech-averse patients may express reservations about the new technology that the dental hygienist is using or points out as technology that will be used to treat an existing or emerging dental health problem. It is important to be very patient and understanding when addressing such reservations. Focus on revealing how technology enables the dental office to provide better dental care to patients and refrain from drawing comparisons between dental technology and other technological devices in everyday life. Any comparison can bring up deep-rooted issues the patient has, and their resistance to the technology will be increased instead of dissipating.
Answer their questions.
Tech-averse patients often pose several questions or the same question in different ways when faced with a new piece of dental technology. As a dental hygienist to whom those questions are posed exercise a lot of patience and care when responding. The questions give you a window into the objections that the patient has, and how well you answer can either soften their stance or make them take a more averse position. Avoid using technical language in your responses. Instead, use simple language to highlight how the patient stands to benefit from the new technology.
Keep traditional methods as an option.
In some situations, tech-averse patients may vehemently insist that they want nothing to do with the new technology that a dental hygienist wishes to use. In such a case, it is futile and counterproductive to try to compel the patient to accept the new technology. It is far better to fall back to the old technology that the patient is used so that the needed dental care can be provided. For example, if the patient doesn’t want a digital scanner anywhere near their mouth, whip out the old way to take dental impressions and use that. Patients have a say in the dental care they receive, and acting upon their wishes is your duty as a dental hygienist.
Each patient that will come to you is different, and it is imperative that you practice how to quickly identify into which category each patient belongs on the subject of new technology. Communicate with those patients appropriately on matters of that new technology and your work as a dental hygienist, and a representative of the dental office will be easier. At Digital Doc, we offer extensive training to the staff at dental offices where our equipment is in use, so you can count on having all the relevant knowledge about our technology, such as intraoral cameras, hand-held dental x-ray devices, and LUM Transillumination devices long before you have to use this technology on patients.