About Mary H. Osborne, RDH

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

About Mary H. Osborne, RDH

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M A R Y H. O S B O R N E

photo of Mary OsborneMary Osborne has worked in dentistry for over thirty five years as a clinical hygienist and patient facilitator. As a lifelong student of effective communication and relationship building, she brings to her work enthusiasm, intelligence, humor, and a deep belief in the potential for significant growth through authentic communication.

Mary is known internationally as a consultant, writer, guest presenter and producer of newsletters and audio cassette programs. Her writing has been published in national magazines including theJournal of Clinical Orthodontics,and she serves on the editorial board of In A Spirit of Caring. Mary is a Foundation Advisor and serves on the Visiting Faculty at the Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education.

…..Improving communication in dentistry for over thirty five years and specializing in:

Patient Care and Communication:

Patients come to us with fears, doubts, concerns, and opinions. Empathic listening and clear communication creates mutual respect, clear expectations and trusting relationships.

Leadership and Personal Growth:

Communicating your vision for the practice to those who must help you achieve it is essential to your success. Leadership requires self awareness and the courage to bring yourself to your work. Ethical practice, excellent dentistry, and quality care earns you the right to influence others.

Team Development:

A successful dental practice requires a high level of professionalism from everyone in the office and an environment of open and honest communication. Developing the gifts and talents of those with whom you work inspires dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm.

You can learn to be a more effective communicator.

You can go beyond verbal tactics and scripts, and learn
communication that is both authentic and powerful.


Are You Talking About Benefits or Benefits?


I’m tired of talking about insurance benefits. So much is being said today about “changes in health care,” but the conversation really tends to be more about changes in insurance benefits. I think the time is right for those of us in dentistry to lead the way into a different conversation; a conversation about health.

We have a lot to learn about health; a lot to explore with our patients. Beyond education there is a place for authentic dialogue; an exchange of ideas in which there is learning on both sides. Beyond a mechanistic model of health is a true understanding of vitality, of what it means to thrive. This kind of conversation requires that we set aside our bias about know what is “best” for our patients.  It requires that we suspend assumptions; that we let go judgment; that we find in our hearts compassion — for fellow travelers on the road to health.

I’m not suggesting we ignore the realities of dental insurance in our lives and in the lives of our patients. I’m not idealizing the desire our patients have for health, or the possibilities they are able to see for themselves. I am keenly aware how important is to pay attention to the productivity and profitability of a dental practice. I just believe that we are at an important transition in regard to health care, and we can either “wait and see” how it turns out, or we can participate in shaping it.

I’d like to suggest a formula for health, both the health of your patients, and the health of your practice:

CSJ + PO + FF + MOP = Health

The first part of the equation has to do with Care, Skill, and Judgment. This refers to all aspects of how you care for your patients. We have a responsibility to develop skills in helping patients choose health as well as in delivering excellent technical dentistry. Success depends on clinical excellence and our capacity for understanding, patience and compassion. Our care, skill, and judgment make up the first, essential part of the formula for health.

The next part of the equation has to do with agreement on Preferred Outcomes. Our best homecare suggestions and treatment recommendations are meaningless unless we are moving toward mutually agreed upon outcomes. It creates the context for every choice we ask patients to make and every option they ask us to offer them. We can learn to help patients shape their preferred outcome by helping them see what Dr. Bob Barkly referred to as their “probable future” and their “possible future.” Without the context of a preferred outcome they cannot be fully informed of the implications of their choices.

Another element to factor into the equation is a Fair Fee. There are a number of ways to determine a fair fee. It can be based on your overhead, on comparables in your community, on time, on skill level, on degree of difficulty, etc. You must choose how a fair fee will be determined in your practice, but it should be based on solid principles which allow you to deliver the quality of care to which you hold yourself accountable. It is one of the most truly unique aspects of your practice. The degree to which you own the fairness of your process has everything to do with your ability to offer your work proudly and to stand behind your work. 

The final piece of the equation has to do with Method Of Payment. This part of the process includes, for example: cash or credit card, payment plans, insurance reimbursement, and loans from wealthy relatives. It is an appropriate part of the equation, but it is not a part of the Fair Fee. They are two separate elements. Only when you have that clarity can you accept your fee graciously, or choose to appropriately adjust it, or decide to waive it completely. 

If you choose to accept a credit card payment, you understand it is discounted by the fee you pay the credit card company. If you choose to accept what an insurance company decides is appropriate you do the same. That does not change what you have determined to be a fair fee. When you choose to accept something other than your fair fee you must consider the effect of that decision on the care, skill and judgment you will bring to the case; the outcomes to which your patient aspires; and the practice standards to which you hold yourself accountable. You may want review one or more of those elements to choose your course of action. You may want to consult your patient on any of those elements for their input, choices, and understanding.

The sum total of the formula is Health. Healthy choices by your patients must be freely chosen and fully informed, and that is true regarding your choices for your practice. They should not be in conflict with each other. One should support the other. We do not support healthy choice by hiding, protecting, ignoring, avoiding, and always taking the easy way out. Health is a choice and it is a worthy goal.

When I work with groups with this formula we explore each element in depth in terms of the part we can play in each part of the process. Where can we influence? Where might we be impeding the process? What are the possibilities we may not be seeing? Where are the opportunities we may be missing, the options we may not have considered? I hope you will enjoy exploring, asking questions, seeing new possibilities. I hope you and your patients can learn to celebrate the benefits of a healthy life. I hope you will become a part of a new conversation; a conversation about health. 

Home Testimonial

“Thanks so much for your continuing efforts to promote and advance the concept of the relationship based practice.” – Jim Otten

Great Forum

What a great forum for sharing the wisdom we have been privileged to gain from those who came before us. Hearing that wisdom expressed in the language of today is so important. ~ Mary Osborne

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