Friday, July 10, 2009

Could you remember me "doctor" ?

Everyone who can read this must remember the time of film cameras, negatives and 3R prints that could cost 40 cents each. You had to bring your roll of film to the studio for processing and wait a week. Then, as more and more people could aford cameras, tiny photo-developing booths/kiosks took over the job of the studios. Processing could take just one day, then 20 minutes. I remember getting receipts from these booths that said: “Goods not collected within 6 months will be discarded”. Which is fair, considering the lack of space in the tiny little booth.

Many people don’t realise that dental clinics have their fair share of “trash” in the form of plaster models. Once the dentures, crowns or bridges are completed, these models are practically useless. The more patients we see, the faster they pile up. If we were to keep all these models from day 1, we would need to rent a warehouse to store them.

So what happens to dentures that are not collected? We call up the patient to remind them. But we can’t keep reminding them, can we? Of course not. We have better things to do. But what if the patient turns up 2 years after the denture was first made expects to collect it? You may have guessed it by now, we had one like that just a week ago.

If I were in that patient’s shoes, I would feel nervous, apologetic with only the faintest hope that the dentures will still be around. But as you may have guessed it again, this patient was angry and demanding. Insisting denture or refund of deposit. But what do people understand by deposit? Isn’t it something to protect the business in case the patient/customer abscorns, abandons treatment or dies halfway? Unfortunately, many seemingly educated Singaporeans refuse to acknowledge the fact that they have been irresponsible. They cannot blame the clinic for discarding their uncollected dentures and forfeiting the deposit.

“But I have already paid! But I have already paid!”

“We reminded you to collect your dentures. You didn’t respond”

“I was busy what”

How to make them understand? Perhaps they do understand. Could it be that just because they didn’t need or want the new denture back then and suddenly decided 2 years later that they wanted it? Yes. They could make the denture first, pay only half the fees as deposit and then collect their dentures when they are “ready”.

Isn’t it amazing the kind of service some of our patients expect us to provide? How do we manage this sort of cases? Charge them for storage?

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