Last month we discussed long range planning. There are seven areas of life that need consideration for long range planning. They are: Spiritual, Family, Career, Self Improvement, Health, Social, and Financial.
This month we will focus on health goals. When someone enters the practice for the first time, we set up an initial interview. After learning something about the patient from a personal standpoint, we focus on any immediate concerns. Then we move into the health history of the patient making sure that there are no contraindications for dental treatment including routine cleanings. If that is satisfactory, I ask the patient if given a choice between disease and health, which one they would pick. They always laugh or snicker a little bit like I’m asking a silly question. Then they always reply, “Health of course.” I respond by then asking what health means to them. Each patient has a different concept of what health is. Once we find out what health means to them, I always follow up with asking what they are willing to do to stay healthy or if not as healthy as they want to be, what they are willing to do to get healthy. Finally we discuss what role that I can play to help them get where they want to be. It is after a careful examination then, called co-discovery, where the patient and I learn together the state of health that they are in, records are collected, and then after any follow up questions we plan a future appointment.
The patient returns at a subsequent appointment and the findings are discussed. It is at this time that a partnership is formed and the goal setting process is conducted. You see if there are no goals set, there is nothing to measure. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there? Based on the patient’s goals, in partnership we create a Master Plan. Health is a function of participation. Equal sharing of responsibility is discussed. Through this discussion the relationship grows and a trust is created. Without this interaction, the patient really has no idea of their responsibility. You can’t rely on a health care facilitator to do it all. If this is done correctly, the dentist and team become dental health coaches in a health centered practice. Remember that only 3% of the population has written goals and 97% do not. It is only those 3% that out perform the masses because their goals are written down. Health goals need to be written and if you want to be successful hiring a good dental health coach is the difference between breaking out of the disease cycle or continually spinning around in it for the rest of your life. For more information please see my website at www.drtjbolt.com or call ne at 402-572-8000.