It’s an unfortunate truth that few patients are excited about a visit to their dentist. Whether justified or not, many believe they are in for a painful and often expensive experience. And so forward-thinking dental practices should be looking for ways to elevate patient expectations. Innovative concepts, technological capabilities, and a high commitment to the quality of the entire patient journey should be considered.
There is inherent value to patient focused care, and patients place a high priority on these factors. Here are a few ways to help transform the patient experience at your practice.
Understand the Basics
Understand your patient base and expectations. If your professional patients expect to be seated in an operatory the minute they walk in, meet that expectation. If your celebrity patients expect a warm towel after treatment, provide that pampering. In fact, a little pampering can go a long way for everyone who visits your office. Know your patients — and know that everyone likes to be treated well and made to feel special.
Measure the Experience
A key way to measure whether your patients are satisfied is by surveying them. Ask patients to assess their experiences in areas they value, including ease of appointment scheduling, availability of information, communication with clinicians, responsiveness of clinicians, office cleanliness and organization, appointment timeliness, case presentation, treatment presentation, and coordination between front and back office.
It’s not just about a friendly voice on the phone. The first point of contact with your team sets the stage for their continuum of care. Enhanced patient communications improve patient engagement and ultimately, your clinical outcomes. Ask your patients about the best way to contact them. Consider text messaging, and email applications for patient ease-of-use. Make contact with your practice simple and satisfying.
Present a Treatment Plan
Use study models, photos, and radiographs to discuss treatment plans. Patients will be more receptive to treatment if they can visualize the problem and diagnosis. Present every angle and provide treatment options. Report fees and convey value and ease of treatment to every patient.
Be the Listener
Listening is a critical step toward understanding and improving the quality of care. Some patients notice everything. The information they convey can reveal system problems, such as appointment delays or gaps in coordination and communication. Finding solutions to practice kinks can have major quality and efficiency implications. The goal is to improve the patient experience.
Create an Effective Team
Efforts to enhance the patient experience results in greater employee satisfaction. Reduce turnover by providing an impressive patient experience. Tenacious work processes enable clinicians and staff to provide effective care.
Embrace New Technology
Outdated dental equipment is a disappointment to many patients. Innovative use of new technologies makes patients feel like they are involved with a top-notch practice. Some new devices reduce production costs and decrease chair time. New technology should be researched and supported. Schedule in-office demos with product vendors to learn about the benefits of adopting new technology into your high-tech dental office.
Put your patients first by creating the very best patient experience. Drive your practice towards a more patient centered focus and understand that the journey is part of the destination of good oral health.