I truly fear and dread going to the dentist. Despite that, I find myself more engaged and empowered in my dental care experience than at my traditional medical doctor’s office. Let me set the scene:
My doctor’s office is in the suburbs next to a satellite hospital, while my dentist operates in a professional building near a large city medical center. Similar settings, but once you step inside, the differences are immediately noticeable.
When I walk into my doctor’s office, I am greeted by:
- Florescent lighting
- Antiseptic smells
- A children’s play area showing an animated feature
- A section for adults with magazines and national news blaring
- An ominous sliding glass panel that divides waiting patients from front office staff
Conversely, when I walk into my dentist’s office, here’s my experience:
- Low lighting like a spa
- A single wall-mounted TV displaying a slide show of families, dogs and serene local scenes
- Calm, cool music; no drills, suction, or shouting TVs
- One front office staff member in the waiting area like a concierge
- No other waiting patients
My dentist explained to me his setup is purposeful: loud TVs, scattered magazines, and waiting increases anxiety. So why bother with these “amenities”? Brilliant! And now, I’m an engaged patient. I want to come back even though I’d rather do almost anything than sit in that dental chair.
During the dental visit, I am provided a blanket, clear instructions, asked about my comfort, and an option to listen to music. When I need additional services beyond the standard check-up, I learn about them – and an estimated cost – right at the end of my visit. THEN, I schedule the added work without a surprise bill after the fact in the mail.
My dentist is not just providing a service and seeing patients; he is building an experience. Through the experience, I am less anxious from the start and enabled to participate in my care while making informed choices. The difference in these set-ups perhaps reflects that dentists have been operating in a more value-based care environment longer than doctors. Except for preventive check-ups, dental procedures traditionally have limited coverage leaving patients responsible for a much larger chunk of the cost, compared to medical visits. Thus, my dentist knows the experience is critical– so is transparency regarding my financial responsibility.
Providers who take a cue from my dentist – effectively engaging patients and respecting their consumer power – have a better chance of successfully navigating value-based care.
How are you coping in the world of value-based care? Post a comment and share your experience.