Habituation is defined as becoming accustomed or developing tolerance from a repeated action. Because of adaptation, there is a decrease in response to a repeated stimulus where one can no longer sense that stimulus as efficiently as before. Habituation occurs both in people and organizations. When it comes to improving the patient experience in our practices, it is important to beware of habituation.
Think about all of our habits and normal ways of doing things, and consider how we have habituated into doing things in the same way. Sometimes, we have habituated into accepting certain problems. At times, we have habituated into accepting an average patient experience. Or accepted that our role is to achieve the bare minimum necessary. Unfortunately, habituation begins to erode our drive to continually improve and re-evaluate our approach to orthodontic treatment.
Try to see the world as it really is. Not the way we think it is. Why? Because it’s easy to solve a problem that almost everyone sees. But it’s hard to solve a problem that almost no one sees.” – Tony Fadell
There are those methods that our specialty has habituated. Are there areas we can improve, or will we continue to approach it the same way because that is the way we have always done it? What have we accepted as the “average” orthodontic experience? What are the real problems we encounter in treating patients as opposed to the problems we think we have? Breaking those habits can raise the bar for patient care.
As patient expectations evolve, and as the orthodontic marketplace changes, it is imperative that we break out of habituation and design a better experience. Consider the impact of orthodontic emergencies. What about the convenience of scheduling? How about treatment times or patient comfort? Are we delivering technical appointments, or are we building relationships with our patients when they visit our offices? These are the questions we have to consider if we want to become relevant in the future.