Let’s continue-on with our favorite acronym in sleep, S.E.T.U.P.. At this point we’ve been through the S,E,T, and most recently the U for understanding. Today we will focus on the P for presenting the case to your patient, or as we are labeling it, case presentation.
The patient has had a sleep study done, or you have accessed a copy of a prior sleep study. You have conducted the visual and intraoral exam, as well as an airway assessment, and now have a good picture of the pathology of his or her sleep breathing disorder. Now you must make a compelling case for treatment!
The first thing to remember is that case presentation is a lot more than just explaining the sleep study and treatment options. You really have to pull together all the details that got you to this point. Go back to the first conversations you had with your patient and stress the same points that made him or her willing to open (or reopen) this can of worms.
Interpreting the Sleep Study
When preparing to interpret the sleep study for your patient, you really must lean heavily on the findings of the sleep doctor. Frame the entire conversation around the fact that the findings are not coming from you, as a dentist, but from a highly qualified, board-certified sleep physician.
Stress the fact that this doctor has reviewed, minute by minute, exactly what was happening when he or she conducted the study. Since apnea is considered a lifelong diagnosis, not only does the study represent one night in the past, but also it provides a snapshot that predicts what is happening every night of the patient’s life.
Make a copy of the sleep study so you can to highlight specific details and make notes, for example:
How many times they stopped breathing
How long the apnea events last
Oxygen desaturation levels
Go over each detail in patient-friendly language and stress the health implications of each piece of data. Use visual language and stress the health-threatening events that have been documented by the study.
For example, don’t just cite the oxygen levels and expect your patient to know the importance of the readings. Explain the health implications of chronic oxygen desaturation: what it means day-to-day, and what it means for long term health.
When you get to the recommendations of the study, remember that you should always explain all treatment options. Do this even if your patient has heard them before, and even if your patient has tried some of them. You may only be able to provide an oral appliance, of course, but as a faithful interpreter of the study, you have a duty to explain every treatment fully.
Rally Your Team
When it comes to making a successful case, the devil is really in the details. Sometimes it takes a whole team to make a patient understand why it’s so important they get treatment. Every member of your staff involved with this step should be aware of their role, and what type of language they should use when interacting with the patient during this stage.
For example, if a member of your staff will be presenting the insurance and financial side of the case, he or she must also be aware of the health implications of treatment. He or she must be willing to help the patient visualize the seriousness of the problem and take ownership of their condition.
Use Our Financial Templates
Use the financial templates that we customized together during your initial strategy sessions. Our forms are self-explaining, so they can guide you, step by step, through a logical explanation of the financial aspects of the case.
When you can explain to the patient that, yes, you’ve checked with their insurance, and yes, you’ve maximized their benefits—it assumes that they will take advantage of this treatment. It starts the ball rolling before they have the chance to say yes or no, and it can help build the momentum to get you to acceptance.
More Than a Financial Presentation
It’s a big mistake to think of case presentation as being a chiefly financial presentation. It’s really about education. Let’s be good educators throughout the process, so we can rest easy knowing our patients have everything they need to make an informed decision. Educate each patient about the medical condition itself, his or her own documented health situation, the dangers of non-treatment, and the easy steps they can take to seek treatment.
Have patients for testing? HST America offers home sleep testing services that cost nothing for the dentist to use. Learn more about our hand-delivered HST protocol below!
Read all Snoozeletter’s from Medical Billing for Dentists, here.
About the author
Marty R. Lipsey received his DDS degree from UCLA and a Master of Science from Northwestern University Dental School. Dr. Lipsey is the founder of Dental Sleep Med Systems and Medical Billing For Dentists, offering dental teams assistance in implementing and improving their dental sleep medicine practices, including outsourced medical billing and successful insurance coding and processing. Dr. Lipsey lectures nationally on dental sleep medicine and medical billing and is a full time advocate for sleep health and effective medical billing systems.