Originally posted August 16, 2017; updated

physicianOnce upon a time – last year, to be exact – a Pew survey suggested that for all the problems with American healthcare these days, people just lurve their physicians.

According to the survey, almost 90% of those who saw a doctor in the past year felt their provider “really cared about their health and well-being.” Nearly all thought they received all the info they needed from them.

At the same time, about half of adults think kids today are less healthy than a generation ago, and roughly 42% think adults’ health is worse, too.

No, we’re not sure either how those two things jibe. (The latter, though, does jibe with previous findings.)

Meantime, a 2017 survey from a consulting firm found that people aren’t really all that fond of their dentists – at least if you measure that in terms of whether they would recommend doing business with their current dental provider.

The study found that overall, the typical dental provider earned an NPS of 1. To put this into perspective, other industry NPS averages are 36 for insurance, 39 for financial services, and 46 for retail.

That’s pretty bad.

Yet when you think about how dentistry is still often practiced today, it kind of makes sense. Despite the ever clearer relationships between oral and systemic health, dentists just aren’t seen as healthcare providers. Most of the time, they’re viewed more as mouth mechanics – someone you see when something goes wrong, hardly a player in your quest for good health.

Because of this, there can also be suspicion – sometimes with good cause – that the dentist is trying to upsell them treatments or recommending procedures they may not really need. After all, if a dentist is just there to fix problems, its profitable to find more problems to fix or more expensive ways of fixing them.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. And, happily, more dentists are beginning to see themselves as more than fixers but true partners in health. More are also beginning to really appreciate the relationships between oral and systemic health. They may not necessarily be practicing biological dental medicine, but it’s a start.

One of the things we pride ourselves on is the relationships we build with our clients. It’s important for us to get to know them as individuals – to be able to provide the customized care they need and deserve. We view them as partners in the process, as they are ultimately the authors of their own health and well-being. We give information; they learn; they choose which path to take to achieve their goals in a way that aligns with their needs, values, and beliefs.

Only then comes treatment. And just as much as we give information, we give time.

That’s why, apparently unlike the people who answered the second survey, our patients do refer friends and family to us consistently.

We’re proud to be an outlier.

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