Postoperative care instructions play a major role in the outcome after a dental procedure. Done right, they can also lighten your practice’s workload and delight your patients.
All successful oral surgeries require a balance of effort between the doctor and the patient: excellent dentistry on the doctor’s part and strict adherence to postoperative care instructions on the patient’s part.
You probably feel confident about your role in this equation, but how do your patients measure up?
If they ignore your instructions and demand more after-care requests than necessary, you probably need to revamp your postoperative efforts. But what’s the best way to influence patients after the procedure?
The following best practices will yield better results for your patients, the least amount of rework for your team, and a customer experience that’ll keep patients squarely in your corner.
Give the “Why”
To avoid complications that could result in rework, let patients know exactly why they’re supposed to abstain from certain actions or habits.
For example, drinking alcohol and smoking can wreak havoc after an extraction because they may result in the loss of the clot needed for healing.
But the bigger why here (for the patient) is if they don’t follow your instruction, they’ll experience a fair amount of pain. And if they think they’re in pain now, wait till they end up with dry socket. That’s the why they need to hear.
Set Proper Expectations
Providing more postoperative preparatory information significantly increases pain relief.
Who would have thought arming patients with effective postoperative care instructions could reduce their overall experience of pain?!
But it can. That’s why it’s so important to provide patients with a modicum of control when they feel they’ve surrendered it all to you.
When creating post-op care instructions, let them know the degree of pain they’re likely to experience, how to treat it, and for how long “normal” pain should last.
By offering instructions that prepare them, you’ll help allay any fear their pain is unique. You’ll also lessen chances of an unwarranted call to your office.
Keep Your Audience in Mind
Language barriers, age, and patient anxiety can each cause a patient to retain less of your postoperative care instructions than you’d wish. So, you’ll want to craft instructions each of these audiences can take with them after a procedure.
In other words, you can’t just deliver the instructions verbally. You’ve got to include written instructions as well.
The upside to this back-up set of instructions? Adherence improves.
Go Beyond the Printout
You may have the craftiest and most influential instructions, but what happens if the paper they’re printed on gets run through the washing machine?
That’s right: you’ll also need follow-up instructions, and this is the time to get creative.
For example, send the instructions via email. This way, they’ll have your instructions wherever they are. That equals (again) less likelihood for rework, less patient dissatisfaction and fewer interruptions.
Or be bold and integrate video into your post-op mix. Videos offer a couple of major benefits.
First, they address patients’ common complaint that the doctor doesn’t spend enough time with them. And more “face time” with the doctor never hurts – even if this face time isn’t necessarily face to face.
Second, video instructions help ensure that the patient’s recollection of the visit is positive. We remember the first thing and the last thing about any experience better than we remember anything in between (including dental appointments). Offering your patient a warm towel when they arrive (wow!) and sending them a personalized email with video post-op instructions when they leave the office helps eclipse any unpleasant feeling they may have had about the procedure.
So, what do you think? Is it time to revamp your commitment to postoperative care instructions?
Learn more about how RevenueWell automates the whole post-op process for our customers. Our prewritten templates for the most common dental procedures eliminate the annoyance of crafting the message, and our editable content ensures the message says exactly what you want. Add in the ability to add links, images and videos, and you’ve got a customizable solution that helps you deliver the best clinical outcome (and best patient experience) you can imagine.