While this is fresh in my mind, I had a thought that would help improve patient experience especially when it came to sharing my patient with the periodontist. Since the periodontist is the more senior expert on how my patient’s gums are doing, I fully trust they are in good hands when they alternate their six-month visits. My office typically receives a report from the periodontist office, sometimes signed by the dental hygienist, to let my office know how their visit with the periodontist went. When I had evaluated a patient today, I became concerned when I saw a few areas that either have gotten worse or weren’t improving. So I made up a report of my own to send to my patient’s periodontist to see if any of my findings are a concern to handle proactively or it could wait until his next visit. I won’t know for a while what the outcome may be, but it made me think.
I am the biggest stickler about continuity of care. I want to see progress in my patients and it’s easier to follow if they stick with me. Most patients will appreciate it if they see the same dental provider for their routine visits. When they do also see someone else like a periodontist alternatively every 6 months, I don’t know how that visit went or if any improvements were made. I’d either have to wait for a report from the periodontist or have the patient tell me what happened. This is where working collaboratively with a dental specialist you trust or work well with is very important. I think communication doesn’t always have to go one way from dental specialist to the general dentist. Communication can go both ways. This may not be a new or groundbreaking concept, but it is a way to always improve communications between two dentists who share patients, especially for dental hygienists who spend the most time with patients.
This improvement wouldn’t be for any of the dental provider’s benefit, but for the patient because it shows that two offices can work together in improving the patient’s periodontal health. I didn’t decide to write this rant because I ran into a problem, but it makes you wonder what more could you do to maximize the patient experience when it comes to their periodontal health?