Transactions or Health-centered Relationships?

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Transactions or Health-centered Relationships?

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If you had a sore throat and were running a mild fever, you would likely seek out medical care. And today, the location of that care could take on many different forms – some being very convenient.

So a decision would be made…perhaps your regular doctor’s office is closed or unavailable, so how about trying the doc-in-a-box down by the grocery store? The PA there was really nice when little Jimmy got into poison ivy over the summer…

And as long as our perception of our situation is that it is simple and routine, most of us would have no hesitation seeking care from someone who does not know us and vice-versa.

But rarely do we consider in that circumstance, that the person or place we are seeking care may not share our values, or goals with regard to treatment. Nor do we consider -on the front end- what their philosophy of care might be.

Are they interested in identifying the cause of our illness, or are they primarily focused on alleviating the symptoms so they can move on to the next person in line?

And do they have overlaid on top of all of this, production goals which are dictated by the corporate ownership?

You can see the obvious parallels to dentistry here. And as corporations continue to infiltrate dentistry for profit, how will our profession’s reputation be affected? And how will patients be viewed and treated? Will patients just be viewed as just another potential revenue stream?

I recently saw a live podcast on Facebook from a well-known dentist who teaches on a national level. And he said, “It’s getting to the point where dentists can no longer make a good living by simply doing crowns and fillings – they need to add other services.”

This gave me pause, as there was no implication from him that the relationship between patients and dentists was about much more than what kind of living we can make off of them.

There was no discussion of what patients want and how to help them discover it.

There was no discussion of what patients need and how to help them desire it.

There was no discussion about how patients feel and how we can facilitate the good and avoid the bad.

There wasn’t even a discussion relating treatment to health.

The entire focus of the conversation was about money, as if dentistry was nothing more than a commoditized service.

And if the public in general comes to realize that many in dentistry today are more personal income -centered than health-centered, than our professional status has been surrendered to the money changers, and we now must live by THEIR philosophy.

And that makes me sad.

But it also reminds me that in front of us lies a huge opportunity for those who choose to become more patient-centered, and more health-centered, as many people will seek us out after the the indifferent or superficial doc-in-the-box experience, and their problem was never satisfactorily addressed, much-the-less even discussed.

Paul A. Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017

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