A persona is defined as a combination of the demographics, needs, motivations, and environment of a specific type of person. Identifying patient personas can help determine and guide the way you present treatment plans to ensure your patients have a resounding experience. Establishing patient personas will help contribute to a more personalized experience that will help with treatment plan acceptance and patient retention.
The aging population sits at 8.5% of the population worldwide, that number is expected to increase to 17% by 2050 according to the WHO. People are living longer making this persona of patients more common now than in the past. Being considerate of the fact these patients are on a fixed income when discussing treatment will help both the patient and the presenter feel more relaxed. As often as possible it would be advantageous to offer several treatment options in different price ranges. Fully disclose the expected longevity of each treatment option, to help the patient with the decision making. These patients are often technically challenged and expecting them to use technology to better understand treatment may not be beneficial, however sitting with the patient and presenting it yourself using technology could be a better option. These patients are often lonely and spending the extra time with them can make the decision-making process much less stressful.
just because a patient has the financial means to afford treatment does not mean they will understand the importance of treatment.
These patients may be the easiest patients for treatment plan presentation and acceptance, yet there are still factors to consider to make the experience more personalized. I once had a middle-aged patient needing a crown that had dual insurance. His immediate response when advised that he would need a crown was “I’m not paying a lot of money for a crown!” I responded with “We don’t even know how much your portion will be after insurance, let’s see what your treatment plan looks like before you get upset.” Turns out his portion out of pocket was $55 after both insurances were considered, of course he accepted and had the treatment completed. The moral of the story is, just because a patient has the financial means to afford treatment does not mean they will understand the importance of treatment. The patient I mentioned above was easy to convince because his portion was so minimal, but if that were not the case, I would have needed to help this patient understand the benefits and importance of having this treatment completed. Patients that value treatment are more willing to accept recommended treatment and see the benefits. Personality and demeanor are very important aspects of a patient persona that should not be overlooked when presenting treatment plans. Is the patient laid back and happy or uptight and serious? These two people require entirely different treatment plan presentations.
These patients are busy taking care of everyone except themselves. These patients may make appointments only to cancel later due to a busy schedule. Sometimes when following up to reschedule canceled appointments it is hard to reach these patients via phone due to their busy schedule, and honestly, I can relate. I just let those calls go to voicemail too. I’m rarely able to answer the phone and have a conversation, much less make an appointment that may conflict with my busy schedule. These busy moms probably do want to get treatment done but are overwhelmed. This is where technology can really play a vital role in getting these patients into the chair for treatment. Sending a text message or email gives these moms a chance to respond when they have a break from running everyone to their sporting events, getting groceries, cooking dinner, and cleaning the house. It will also give them a chance to look at their schedule and make an appointment that they can keep instead of guessing and needing to constantly reschedule due to conflicts.
Making personal connections with your patients by evaluating their persona has been shown to increase treatment plan acceptance and follow through with treatment. Appealing to their individual persona will help them see value in necessary treatment and lend to an experience that many patients have never had in a dental practice. People like to feel connected; it is a reassuring feeling that your dentist and staff know you. This gains trust and helps the patient feel confident when undergoing recommended treatment. Please consider evaluating patient personas and individualizing treatment plans and presentations to better fit the needs and expectations of your patients.