When to schedule a 2nd consultation for a patient after a comprehensive exam

When to schedule a 2nd consultation for a patient after a comprehensive exam

When should you use a second consultation after your initial exam with a patient?

Ideally, patients will hear your treatment recommendation the first time you present it and they will start right away.

But the reality is that many patients might delay this treatment because they have questions like:

  • What are the costs?
  • Is this something that is needed?
  • What happens if I don’t do it?
  • Is there really any consequence to delay it?
And if the patient doesn’t have a good understanding of the treatment and they haven’t had time to process things, they may not move forward and may not be ready to commit to the treatment in full.

So, the second consultation will give you a chance to answer more questions if they’re on the fence. And this will help provide the patient with more information they may need before starting the treatment..

Some patients may say they have a financial concern. However, you might find they are really just prioritizing other purchases over their dentistry if they really don’t understand what the importance of the treatment is.

The initial exam is an important time to gather all the information you need and make the proper comprehensive treatment plan.

And you really need to do the comprehensive exam at this initial visit. The initial visit is the key time to gather all the information, to do a comprehensive exam and to help treatment plan the patient, and then try to answer the patient’s questions.

If the initial exam is for a new patient, it makes sense to spend a good amount of the time of the new patient visit, gathering the records and answering their questions. Spend time to help educate the patient about dentistry and to get to know you and the office.

Whether it’s about home care they need to do or any of their other needs that you find. You should take intraoral photos as these can help the patient see the needs more clearly. And take that time to:

  • hear the patient’s concerns.
  • help them have a chance to get to know you.
  • help them to realize that you’re there to help them.
  • try to respond to their needs.

So once you get that initial comprehensive exam and you have all the information and you’ve created a treatment plan, do you start right away with the treatment plan or do you do the second consultation?

It depends.

When a follow-up 2nd consultation is beneficial

If the patient’s ready to move forward and the patient doesn’t have a lot of time for a second consultation, then move forward. 

But if you don’t have a lot of time to go through everything fully at that first visit, or if the patient has questions that need more time to answer, then you may want to take some more time to talk this over.  Schedule a 2nd consultation just to review the comprehensive treatment plan.

Once you have the treatment plan loaded into the practice management software, you have the exam, the treatment plan, you have all the information that you need.

Now your team can help do a benefits check if the patient has questions about cost. You can check things with insurance, however you do that.

And then have the patient to return to the office just for a short visit, just to follow up.

This gives a chance to answer more questions about benefits, gives you a chance to present the care after they’ve had a chance to think about it.

Examples of when a 2nd consultation is useful

You can use a second consultation strictly just to talk or you could pair it with another small first step.

Maybe you’re planning a bridge or an implant for a patient. But the patient also has a filling. You can have them come back and just say, look, let’s do the filling. And then we will talk about the bridge or implant when you come in.

But label on your schedule that this is a filling plus a second consultation so that you’re prepared to have all the information ready for the patient.

And then when you do the filling, you can present the cost and the needs and the plans for the bridge.

If there’s no other work that needs to be done, if there’s no fillings to do and you don’t want to wait six months for a cleaning, maybe you have the patient come back just for the second consultation and then you can take some small step towards that procedure that day.

For example: if it’s a denture, then we check the benefits, we review the plan, we’ll come back, we present the plan, and then if you are ready to proceed, we’ll take the study model impression that day.

So we get the first step started if they decide we have enough time to take that first small step. And so that can work really well for denture consults to have a second consultation and take the impression if they’re not ready to start the first day.

Certainly something like orthodontics or sleep appliances, it makes a lot of sense to have a first and the second consultation so that after you get all of the records, it gives you a chance to check insurance and come up with a treatment plan to present at the second visit.

And then you can take the first step, whether it’s taking an impression for making a sleep appliance or starting spacers to get the bands and brackets on for the braces.

If it’s a bridge, maybe you return and go over the plan for the bridge and you could do the first impression for the opposing arch or something like that to get things started.  You can use some study models of the opposing arch or both arches to make a temporary bridge.  

Even for periodontal therapy needs like Quadrant Scaling, a followup consultation could be used to check homecare and discuss insurance benefits for treatment.

For any of these bigger treatment cases that have more complexity in the treatment planning and the cost and need more time for the patients to have a better understanding of the care and why it’s important and for you to plan, the 2nd Consultation is an important next step for case presentation and case acceptance.

Use that second consultation just as a chance to really get the patients the information they need to make the best decisions.

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