After years of dealing with it, most people have been accustomed to the way they are treated in doctors’ offices – physicians and dentists. They expect that experience. So, new patients are often surprised to notice that our office is very different from the ‘usual’ in many ways. Why are we so different?
A 2013 Consumer Reports national survey of 1000 Americans identified the top gripes of their physicians using a “Gripe-o-meter” tool on a scale of 10 being the worst. The list below is in the decreasing order of most bothersome.
I want to look at the Top 10 gripes and contrast them with our practice. This may be one way that we are ‘different’.
I am happy to notice that when we created a niche practice 20 years ago, to exclusively focus on non-surgical treatment of TMJ Disorder, TMD / CCMD ( T emporo M andibular D ysfunction / C ranio C ervical M andibular D ysfunction) we had already alleviated these gripes. It certainly was not easy for us to make those changes, but I did not expect the pursuit excellence in patient care to be ever ‘easy’ in the first place.
1.We schedule 90 minutes for the new patient TMD / CCMD evaluation visit. This is a clinical examination to determine if there is evidence of TMJ Disorder, TMD / CCMD and if that is the probable cause of the presenting chief complaints of the patient. If it is, an explanation of findings, treatment options are given and questions answered. Prior to that visit, the patient fills out detailed online forms which are reviewed by the doctor prior to an after-office-hours telephone interview of the patient. https:///outoftownguests-before These calls that take an hour or more. This gives the patient an opportunity to ask questions and share their concerns. At the same time, this affords me an opportunity to review the information on the forms such as prior treatments, tests done, medications and answer questions. ‘Clear explanations of the problems’ is one of our strong points.
2.All the technology and expertise needed to diagnose and treat TMJ Disorder, TMD / CCMD cases are present in our office. This includes the latest Cone Beam CT scanner, K7 jaw computer systems to measure EMG of jaw / neck muscles etc. For patients that fly in from other states or countries, we schedule accordingly and give the full report of the findings in a detailed consultation on the same day before they catch their return flight. For local patients, the reports are given within a few days. So, there is no ‘long waiting for results’ in our practice.
3.We choose not to be part of the insurance billing game, preferred network discount schemes etc. In the medical arena, the billed amount of charges has little relation to actual costs. If not, how could they possibly give ‘90% discount’ on charges and still stay in business? In our practice, the fee for any phase of treatment is clearly stated BEFORE it is started and handled. Never a charge for any additional visits or services while under care. Billing disputes? We have none!
4.We set aside time every day for any urgent problems. So, we can usually see a patient the same day or next for anything that needs immediate attention.
5.Double and triple booking schemes are common tactics to increase production. We refuse to play that game also. ‘One-patient-at-a-time’ is necessary for the focus needed to take care of complex TMJ Disorder, TMD / CCMD problems. There is no ‘Rushing during office visits’ here.
6.‘Discharge from hospital’ is not applicable to our practice
7.Sensitive discussions or consultations are held in a consultation room behind closed doors for privacy. With ‘one-patient-at-a-time’, there are few instances for another patient in the next room that could eavesdrop on any conversations.
8.As a practice with a “Pain resolution” model that addresses the structural causes of the symptoms, instead of “Pain management” with medications, ‘side effects of medications’ really is not applicable to our practice. If patients only want to medically manage the pain symptoms, then we are not the practice for them.
9.‘Long wait for the doctor in waiting room’ does not apply to our ‘one-patient-at-a-time’ model of practice.
10.Each one of our patients gets my personal mobile phone number and email address. They may call, text or email me any time and expect a prompt response, even when I am travelling overseas to lecture at conferences.
I see that we ARE different from the usual. Some call that unique. We would go with that!