Using Motivational Interviews to Improve your Practice

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motivation to improve practiceAs a dentist operating your own practice, you stay up to speed on the latest tools and techniques in your field. One trend in dentistry has nothing to do with the actual science of providing care, but it can make a big difference in the oral health of your patients. Motivational interviewing is an evolving strategy that you should consider incorporating into your practice. Read on to find out why!

Motivational interviewing empowers patients to take greater ownership of their health decisions

It can be applied specifically to dentistry to help improve patient outcomes, as well as the likelihood that your patients will accept both the treatment plans you propose and your suggestions that they maintain a high level of dental health. Every dentist has patients who need to make changes in their dental care routine to improve their oral health; you’re no different. Through motivational interviewing, you can inspire these patients with problematic behaviors to make positive changes.

What happens when a health care provider incorporates motivational interviews into its strategy? Clinical Psychology Review published an article about this tactic and noted it as a kinder, gentler way to communicate with patients. Motivational interviewing also decreases the likelihood of a negative reaction from your patients, especially in cases where lifestyle changes were recommended.

Use the OARS method to incorporate motivational interviews into your practice 

A book by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick entitled “Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change” is considered one of the foremost authorities on this topic. The authors tout the OARS strategy as the best way to enact these policies.

OARS stands for the following:

  • Open-ended questions: This is a core component of motivational interviewing, and will initiate dialogue. By asking open-ended questions, a dentist can provide a greater understanding of why a recommended treatment plan is the best course of action for the patient. Asking open-ended questions also encourages more involvement with the patients in their health care decisions. These questions can be used to let patients articulate their reasons why they want to accept a treatment plan, or why they are declining.
  • Affirmations: Think of these as validations. Everyone needs support in life, and your patients are no different. Affirmations make your patients feel confident they are being heard, while also providing encouragement that they have what it takes to make the positive changes that are being recommended.
  • Reflective listening: This is a method of listening that entails repeating or paraphrasing what was said to you, and serves to help the other person in the conversation feel a greater sense of engagement. By practicing reflective listening, you also gain a greater understanding of the perspective of your patient. This also provides the opportunity for your patient to correct something you may have misheard or misunderstood.
  • Summarizing: This is a great way to wrap up an appointment or consultation. Your summary should reinforce what has been discussed, as well as any recommended treatments or behavior changes. A thorough summary will show your patient that you have been listening carefully throughout the conversation, and also provide an opportunity to review what is next for your patient.

Maybe you like the concept of motivational interviewing, but you are unsure about how to apply these techniques for yourself. After all, not every person is gifted in verbal communication. Let the experts at Bryant Consultants help! Bryant Consultants’ services can help you refine your vision, establish goals, and set processes in place to evolve your practice. Contact us by calling (877) 768-4799.

We provide consultation, training, and coaching to help improve the operations of your practice so that you can deliver exceptional results to your patients. No office is out of reach for us; we will even come to you!

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