Oral Cancer Screening: 4 Steps to Technology Implementation

Author : Dental Product Shopper
Published Date 01/06/2009
Share this post
 

Today, more than ever before, dental professionals have a myriad of new technologies within their grasp that can greatly enhance the quality of care available to their patients. Arguably, the most important of these technologies are the advanced screening systems available to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Oral cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer related deaths annually.

Globally, over 400,000 cases are identified each year (The Oral Cancer Foundation). Early detection is a proven lifesaver, and oral cancer screening fits well under the umbrella of comprehensive oral healthcare.

In addition to the obvious patient care benefits, new oral cancer screening technology, when properly implemented and deployed, can boost patient traffic and practice revenue. Given the current economic climate, more patient traffic is a welcome addition to virtually every dental practice.

Oral Cancer Screening:

4 Steps to Technology Implementation

Today, more than ever before, dental professionals have a myriad of new technologies within their grasp that can greatly enhance the quality of care available to their patients. Arguably, the most important of these technologies are the advanced screening systems available to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Oral cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer related deaths annually. Globally, over 400,000 cases are identified each year (The Oral Cancer Foundation). Early detection is a proven lifesaver, and oral cancer screening fits well under the umbrella of comprehensive oral healthcare.

In addition to the obvious patient care benefits, new oral cancer screening technology, when properly implemented and deployed, can boost patient traffic and practice revenue. Given the current economic climate, more patient traffic is a welcome addition to virtually every dental practice.

New Technology Implementation
Implementing new technologies and techniques into your dental practice requires four discreet steps: education and training, marketing and positioning, work flow implementation, and production strategies.

Step 1: Education and Training
Cancer can be intimidating and not a comfortable topic of conversation. Implementing the latest oral cancer screening technologies and techniques can also be intimidating. You and your team need to be educated on oral cancer (incidence rates, morbidity, stages of development, risk factors, etc.) and trained on the clinical tools and techniques used to screen for oral cancer. When addressing a sensitive outcome such as a mysterious lesion, you need to ensure that you understand what the screening technology can do and can?t do and what your responsibilities are related to patient care. Don?t be shy, use the resources of manufacturers to learn as much as possible about the technologies, and position you and your team for success.

Step 2: Marketing and Positioning
This is an opportunity to market the advancements in oral cancer screening technologies and position your practice as a comprehensive oral heath care provider. If you make the effort to properly build your brand in your local market, you?ll create a competitive advantage that can provide consistent, predictable patient flow and production. How you position your practice in your local market is one of the cornerstones of branding. By investing in the latest technologies and training you are telling your patient base and community that you are committed to advancing the standard of care and their comprehensive oral health. This should not be kept a secret. You must promote and market your services to your community.

Your marketing campaign should be developed with the objective of educating your community on oral cancer and your screening solution that could help save their lives. Your letters, emails, or advertising might read as follows:
?Did you know that every hour of every day someone dies of oral cancer in America? Half of the people diagnosed with oral cancer this year will die within five years. Early detection can save your life. We are committed to your oral health and continue to implement advanced techniques and technologies to take great care of our community. Come see us and take advantage of our non-invasive screening technology that allows us to detect lesions early enough to improve survival rates. Together, we could save your life!?

You might even promote a free oral cancer screening day at your office, inviting everyone in your community. Plan it for a Saturday or Sunday so it won?t interfere with your normal practice days.

Step 3: Work Flow Implementation
Effective implementation requires support and enthusiasm from you and your team. It should be easy to get inspired by the advancements in oral cancer screening technologies and the opportunity to help save your patients? lives. However, any new technique and technology requires a change in behaviors and repetition to be successful. The oral cancer screening technique should be added to the regular prophy and done once per year. You and your team should develop a clear protocol for patients to follow in the event that a suspicious lesion is identified during screening. You and your team should have a rehearsed discussion with the patient that is empathetic, compassionate, and informative. If you refer your patient to your local pathologist you should absolutely follow up and monitor your patient?s progress throughout the referral process. Cancer can evoke fear, anxiety, denial, confusion, and pain. This is your patient and this patient trusts you. Please be there for them and support them through the referral process, and hopefully it will turn out okay.

Step 4: Production Strategies
Investing in the latest technologies and techniques costs money and takes time. The insurance reimbursement policies for oral cancer screening vary by plan. Most practices that I have worked with have simply added a $35 to $50 fee to the prophy that includes the oral cancer screening. The issue with oral cancer is that it does not discriminate. Lifestyle choices such as alcohol and tobacco are risk factors, but every patient in your practice should be screened at least once per year. Some of your older patients will be price sensitive due to their fixed incomes, and some of your younger patients will lack interest in screening because their mortality seems beyond their time horizon. Education is critical. Once your patients understand the value that you are providing to ensure their comprehensive oral health, they will feel well cared for and will thank you for your commitment.

Make a Difference
Oral cancer kills people. Oral cancer screening can help you save lives by early detection of cancerous lesions. The opportunity to save lives is both admirable and humbling. You can make a difference, and your community will thank you for it.

// ]]>