By Dr. Doug Depew
We all know how frustrating it can be to present your proposed treatment to one parent, while the other one is not present, hoping the first one will be able to make a decision by themselves. Typically however, that is not the case. More often we end up depending on Mom to carry home the dizzying array of information to discuss with Dad. And since she cannot regurgitate all you spent your time explaining, all Dad hears from her is the treatment fee, without hearing an explanation for the fee and all the wonderful things about you and your practice. In order to increase our success, screen sharing allows us to have one parent sitting in the room with you and the other virtually participating in the discussion.
Screen sharing software allows users to share their computer desktop with another individual through their Internet connections. When screen sharing, the other party will see what is displayed on your entire screen in real time. It’s the next best thing to meeting with someone one-on-one. Many of us have been on the receiving end of screen sharing with some of our support companies, study clubs, or for educational experiences. How about being the person to initiate it and use it to our advantage in discussing treatment?
Some screen sharing programs are totally web-based, while others may require you to download a small program. Some programs even allow you to sketch or make annotations the remote person can see. Some vendors offer screen-sharing technology either for free or they may have a cost associated with it (per-use, monthly, or annual fee for access). Any cost is usually pretty small and worth it due to some of the extra features such as the ability to record your sessions, and the high quality images and video content you can share. In either situation, you may share patient photos, digital models, patient education videos, and images of similar cases. Although the “no cost” programs may be adequate for many doctors’ needs, there may be some limitations such as:
- You can only share with one other person at a time
- Unable to record the sessions
- Slow and jumpy video on the remote end
- No ability to annotate or mark-up the screen
So how do you go about making this happen for new patients? Well, ideally we would love to have both parents attend the initial consultation appointment. Even though we might suggest such on the initial phone call, for whatever reason, it hardly ever happens. The non-attending parent is left with the main deciding factor being the fee.
Through careful scripting during the new patient phone call, confirmation phone call, and upon arriving for their initial appointment, it may be possible to have both parents actively involved in the initial consultation. With some preparation, the second parent can be at work, in front of a computer, and be ready for a call at the appointed time. Screen sharing works best if you are on the phone with the person while sharing your screen. Once the oral exam is finished, simply have Mom call Dad from her cell phone, put him on speaker, and then have him log in to your chosen screen sharing web site by giving him the necessary access code.
In doing so, you are often able to help the parents make a decision at the time of the exam, when they otherwise would not have been able to. In the case a parent is not available at the time of the exam, you can either record that portion of the appointment and make it available to them, or make an appointment to screen share at a separate time. Screen sharing potentially can save both time and money. A second appointment is not needed, there is no need to travel, and it is much more effective explaining things using visuals than to do it verbally.
Screen sharing is also quite helpful in collaborating with our colleagues such as a patient’s general dentist or other specialists. Whether it is reviewing your treatment rationale for a patient’s dentist or navigating around different views of a cone beam CT in real-time, this technology makes it much easier to explain concepts and make joint decisions.
Screen sharing can help enhance communication by sharing information that simply cannot be done just over the phone. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is certainly worth a million words. Screen sharing is a cost effective and convenient way to share our findings with a parent or colleague.
As with all things technological, the number of providers is constantly changing. A simple Google search will show several you can evaluate, many with free trials. Some of the more popular that seem to have staying power are: