Tech Tip: More on non-compliant patients

This week we have some additional education and tips on non-compliant patients.

If you break down the subject of non-compliant patients a bit further, you can see there are two main types:

  • The deliberately non-compliant patient
  • The inadvertant non-compliant patient

With clear aligners the deliberately non-complaint patient may be less common. But differentiating the two may help you to understand them better. Here are some tips on this which don't promise to resolve the issue, but may help us to better motivate the non-compliant patients.

Is there an underlying reason for the non-compliance?

  • Lack of education on the basics, importance of and reasons behind the specific instructions
  • The aligners are uncomfortable, embarrasing, interfering with work or life conditions 
  • Patient is forgetful

Understanding the specific issue for that patient can help you both to come up with workable solutions. 

Education

Education is KEY to compliance and the importance of it should not be underestimated. A thorough education from the start should help to deter non-compliance. A fair percentage of your patients are non-compliant whether you are aware of this or not. We covered some tools and resources for this in our tip last week, specifically:

Having the patient repeat your instructions back to you can help to ensure that they have been accurately understood. 

Involve the patient in every step

  • Involving the patient from the initial consult, to records, to appointments and retention with details of the procedures and a timeline can help to enlist cooperation. 
  • Set goals that patients understand (the setup is a good visualization of the final goals) and establish mini-goals along the way (for example, we have finished closing spaces, we are now half done, we are in the finishing steps, etc)

Communicate and support

  • Be honest when non-compliance is suspected and remind patients without scolding them. For example "I'd like to see you finished by ___ date, can we work together to make this happen?"
  • Encourage patients and share your enthusiasm with their treatment—e.g., "Your teeth are moving like that of a teenager. Keep up the good work!” 
  • Let them know you care. Listen to patients. Sometimes they have life events or situations where aligner wear may not be the highest priority. Let them know you are there for them no matter what and you will bend over backwards to help them achieve their goal of a beautiful smile. 

Documentation

All documentation is important as is true in most industries. For non-compliant patients it is especially good practice to document throughout treatment, as you may need this later.

Key notes for documentation:

  • Missed appointments
  • Patient comes to appointment without their aligners on or with them
  • Mysteriously "clean" aligners (2 or 3 weeks of wear on an aligner will show)
  • Aligners are still tight after 2-3 weeks of wear (should be loose, easy to insert and remove)

For further information on non-compliant patients, visit our help center here

Until next time...

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