Pretreatment evaluations are based on:
- Doctor reputation and marketing activities,
- Office location and exterior appearance
- Staff demeanor and personal appearance
- Interior decor and cleanliness
- Responsiveness to questions
- The occurrence of criticism -- of previous dentistry or home care, of staff or of other patients
- Receptivity to insurance and payment plans.
In this age of growing consumerism, pretreatment patients increasingly insist that they be maximally informed about the procedures being proposed, presented with all the legitimate treatment options, be allowed to participate in treatment decisions, and be assured that the options chosen promise success.
In comparable unfamiliar situations, do we behave any differently? Probably not. We seek to be informed; we seek assurances of our safety, we seek reinforcement that the decisions being made are prudent and in our best interest. It is from such a mix of appearances and intangibles that prospective dental patients make their pretreatment assessments of quality and decide whether to proceed with treatment or to seek another opinion.
Patients' postoperative quality assessments similarly reflect non-technical evaluations: How does it feel? How does it look? How does it function? How long will it last? How much did it cost? How much did cousin Charley pay for a similar service? Was there discomfort with the procedures? Did the doctor and staff seem really concerned?
We judge quality based on what we know about and understand. Patients understand cleanliness and concern and pain and price. And from these assessments, patients decide to recommend the doctor to their friends and relatives.