Over time the patient’s expectations have changed a lot, so when you consider a professiont such as dentistry, most therapies are offered as electives. For this reason, it is more important than ever for the practitioner to frame the expectations of the patient in the best possible way, with the double objective of directing the therapeutic proposal in the most precise way and encouraging as much as possible an optimal experience for the subject. The term “optimal experience” in psychology also outlines a well-defined status of involvement by the individual, which is focused, intrinsically motivated and rewarded.
Returning to the precise case of dental examination and treatment, it is interesting to consider how, today, the patient feels facilitated and legitimized to share their experience with others, perhaps by opening up in a paradoxically inferior way with the doctor. If for many clinicians it is still difficult to decipher the signals sent by the patient, on YouTube it is possible to find hundreds of video blogs in which ordinary people tell their private experience related to a personal treatment, for example, a particular method of orthodontic therapy.
The patient experience is defined as the set of activities, experiences and sensations that the person experiences without limiting themselves to the time actually spent in the chair and in contact with the professional. It ranges from the first contact, whether by phone or otherwise mediated, through the outpatient reception—in the pre-clinical waiting areas—and for all the time spent in the office. The patient brings with them a wealth of expectations, doubts and concerns.
As we can already guess from what we have previously considered, the patient builds their experience on a series of inputs that the clinician is naturally led to underestimate out of habit: sensory stimuli related to the environment, even details of procedures. In this sense, the noise of the turbine and the injection procedure of anesthesia have been identified as the most powerful triggers of dental anxiety, a precise psychological condition and an important obstacle to therapeutic cooperation. Taking measures to limit these problems can, therefore, be useful for the success of the therapy.
To guarantee the best possible experience for the patient, the first part of this article concludes with some indications of the preliminary phases of the clinical phase. The latter is considered in more detail in the second part of the treatment.
The reception is not simply an obligatory stage for the patient but the subject of their expectations: the patient wonders what the environment and the professionals will look like and how much time they will spend in the waiting room. It is advisable to instruct the reception staff on the protocol to be adopted on the telephone and at the desk, and organizing the reminders of appointments already confirmed. It is also important to use the means of communication (think of social networks) to enhance the various professional and systematic avant-garde policies adopted.
The phases following the treatment, immediate and deferred, must be carried out in accordance with what has just been said: the patient should, therefore, be contacted again to evaluate the experience and to remind them of any subsequent appointments.