The first part of this paper focused on the definition of the expectations of the dental patient and how professionals have the opportunity to meet them from the point of view of the environment and non-clinical staff. At this point, it is important to consider the most significant phase; i.e., the time spent with the healthcare staff (dentist, hygienist, and chair assistants).
It is important to understand that, although in part borrowed from customer satisfaction studies, these considerations do not follow a purely consumerist logic of the doctor-patient relationship; on the contrary, they effectively fall within the scope of the patient-centered approach, widely described in recent years. This, in turn, represents an evolution of procedure-driven and intervention-centered medicine that considers the needs and expectations of the patient.
The caregiver usually interfaces with the patient before the dentist. It, therefore, plays an important role of a connection between the extra clinical environment and the chair and is often called by the patient to provide the first explanations, to which it is necessary to respond with a tone that is not “intimidating” but rather proper to the role.
The first impression, by definition, is not repeatable: the image of the dentist must agree with that of cleanliness and professionalism provided to the reception.
The most important aspect, especially in the context of the first meeting with the patient, which often results in a simple visit, is that of communication.
Four clinical domains have been defined that define a patient-centered communication: data collection and diagnosis, treatment objectives and planning, treatment implementation and management, critical analysis and outcomes assessment.
First of all, the collection of medical-dental data and diagnosis: the dentist is required to communicate through an accessible language, devoid of technicalities, to be adapted to the personal, cultural (starting from the ethnic aspect) and psychosocial aspects of the patient. Stephen Covey said, “To understand, then to be understood.”
The dentist must clearly define the objectives of the treatment and, from there, systematically indicate the different options available.
The patient must be actively involved in the definition of the therapeutic plan: in this sense, it is suggested to set up a two-way dialogue, without interruptions, that focuses carefully on the evaluation of the cost-benefit ratio. The physician should understand the patient’s needs and, consequently, be flexible from a practical viewpoint.
The patient must also listen with regard to the economic aspect and should not receive “surprises” when a detailed estimate is presented to them: the incidence of the various treatments must be immediately clear.
On the other hand, it has been shown that the patient, within limits, tends to be willing to take on innovations that can promote their well-being. For example, two-thirds of the patients surveyed found this type of finding in relation to the technology of painless computer-guided anesthesia.