Why Dentists Should Put Others First
For more than four decades, Barry Polansky, DMD, has been challenging dentists to understand themselves, to understand their patients, and to understand the role of their personal leadership and communication with patients.
This understanding, often referred to as the “soft skills” of health care, is essential says Dr. Polansky for genuinely helping patients. Putting the patient’s well-being above your own when diagnosing, planning care, and presenting treatment is a mind set that patients sense. When it is lacking, patients find it difficult to trust the doctor and move forward with care.
Dr. Polansky is an instructor at The Pankey Institute and the author of “The Art of the Examination,” “The Art of Case Presentation,” “A Short Guide to a Long Career,” and “The Complete Dentist: Positive Leadership and Communication Skills for Success.” He has long been an advocate of the philosophy of care that puts the patient’s best interest above personal financial gain, or personal productivity to get more done fast. What leads and helps patients most is understanding, patience, full disclosure, development of their own understanding of their health problems and desire to solve those problems, and trust in you (the doctor) that you can provide those solutions and help them through their treatment. This process takes a bit of time and often multiple contacts and conversations, but in the end optimal health, function, and beauty can be achieved. Preparing patients emotionally, intellectually, financially, oftentimes physically first, means the doctor has to place herself or himself in the patient’s frame of reference and see the patient as the most important person in the relationship. The patient, as a human being, comes first.
In this video, Patient Prism’s CEO, Amol Nirgudkar, talks about reading Dr. Barry Polansky’s books and discovering the close correlation between Dr. Polansky’s focus on people first and Nirgudkar’s business philosophy. While developing a series of businesses, including Patient Prism, Nirgudkar has always focused on discerning what is the most important objective of the individual client or vendor. What does that other individual truly need and how can I meet that need? How can I innovatively create the best solution?
The slogan “People Before Profits” is what Amol Nirgudkar uses to remind those he works with and serves that he believes focus on what is best of others is not only the most ethical way to do business but also the most effective way to stay innovative in creating the best solutions for business problems. Rather than focus on immediate business profits, one must focus on what is good for others and develop genuine solutions that spread “goodness” for all people.
Amol Nirgudkar asks Dr. Polansky, “So why is it important for you, as a business owner and dentist, to put people first?”
Patients are people. “Dentists are people too!” jokes Dr. Polansky. Dr. Polansky explains how his roots in positive psychology grew through his time in academia, and it can be simply boiled down to “Other people matter.” Understanding that and just playing with the phrase, he was able to see that through helping other people, things really do change. Now, Dr. Polansky focuses on his patients and team members. This creates trust. People can only trust you once you “drop the agenda of self-focus.” Dropping the ego can be sensed by other people. If the patient knows that it is all about them, then a proper relationship can develop between the dentist and the patient. This is the initial starting point into thriving in dentistry. The conversation must be moved from profits to people.
“How to build trust in dentistry as it goes through this revolution [the trend of entrepreneurial dentists growing multi-location groups] is crucial right now,” says Amol Nirgudkar. “Moving the conversation from profits to people is an important transition that has to happen.” The profits will follow.