We all want great dental patients – those who never miss an appointment, take your treatment recommendations seriously, refer their friends and family members, and give you five-star reviews online. So where does this begin?
Believe it or not, it does NOT start with having the “right kind of patients” or those with that mythical “high dental IQ” – it starts with YOU!
According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, a world-renown expert on the art of influence, the most important factor in getting people to do what you would like them to do is reciprocity. So if we want our patients to do all of these great things, it starts with us giving them an outstanding dental patient experience every single time they have contact with our office.
There are hundreds of ways to do this but since you don’t have all day, here are 6 ways to provide an extraordinary dental patient experience.
Use “The Blue Sheet”
With the widespread usage of electronic records, “The Blue Sheet” is no longer on an actual blue index card but it works the same way. During a casual conversation with a dental patient, be sure to make chart notes about their family, job, hobbies, travel, etc.. Keep this in a dedicated chart area called “The Blue Sheet.” Then the next time they come in ask them something about their lives. At that moment you become a hero!
Here’s an example:
Mrs. Davidson comes in for a cleaning in May, and she is so excited to tell you the news that in August she will become a grandmother! Then, the song “Let It Be” comes on your office music system and she starts tapping her foot, telling you she is a huge Beatles fan.
Four months later she is in for her next visit, and you greet her with a big smile and say “You must be a new grandma by now!” She is gushing as she pulls out her cell phone to show pictures of her little munchkin. Then, as her cleaning continues, you say, “I know you’re a big Beatles fan. Can you believe Ringo just turned 80?” She’s never experienced anything like this before at a doctor’s office, and you’re a hero! “The Blue Sheet” works!
Send the “PPV!”
Most of us know we should be doing night calls for our dental patients who have undergone a procedure that day. In my practice the criteria were – “injection during the day, call from the doctor at night.” Well, the PPV technique takes this a major step forward!
PPV stands for Pick Postprocedural Video and is a simple video check involving the use of a smartphone’s video and text messaging feature. It is taught by Chicago-area periodontist Dr. Robert Pick and takes the classic “night call” to the next level! Each evening before leaving the office, Dr. Pick and his clinical assistant text a very brief custom video to each patient. It doesn’t have to be very long. Even a brief thirty seconds is fine.
“Hello Stacy, This is Dr. Pick and Theresa. It was great seeing you today! I’m glad everything went smoothly. You’re probably still a little sore and that’s perfectly normal. Rest up, and if you have any questions, just give us a call. See you next week!” BOOM. You are now the greatest dentist in history.
Don’t use Dental Lingo
Don’t forget that the dental terminology that is so natural to us is totally foreign to our patients. Use words like “composite,” “crown margin,” “periodontal disease,” “distal,” etc. and you may as well be speaking Esperanto.
Here’s my rule of thumb. Everything you say to a dental patient should be on a level that a sixth-grader can understand. Those who want more detail can ask, but there is a great art to explaining things on patient-friendly terms. And it is always appreciated.
Be “COVID friendly!”
Dentistry has a long history of excellence with infection control, but most of it has always been behind the scenes. These days people want to know that you are doing everything necessary to keep them safe. Be demonstrative about infection control and show your patients what you are doing. Also, take extra care so that your patients don’t have to touch anything!
Open doors for them. Find ways to keep them from having to sit in your reception area. And when it comes time to pay, make sure they don’t need to touch anything. You can even make it so that they never have to hand over their actual credit card! The z6 and z8 terminals provided by Fattmerchant are the absolute answer to contact-free credit card transactions and will show your patients that you care about them every step of the way.
Make sure your entire dental team is on board
The quality of care your patients receive will never exceed the quality of the people providing it. Everyone, including the doctor, needs to be creating an incredible dental patient experience every second of every day. So how does a doctor get their team performing at this level?
- Clearly communicate goals and expectations. Ask for input.
- Be friendly, grateful, and respectful. Reward positive behavior!
- Gossip and negativity will not be tolerated.
- Invest in your team with proper training, CE, protocols, and coaching. The pay off will be ten times greater than that shiny piece of high-tech equipment you’ve been eyeing.
Never run late
Whether patients are seated in your reception area or waiting in their cars, nothing says “We don’t care” like constantly running late. Make it a point to always run on time and your patients will surely notice. Don’t make excuses. It can be done and should be done. When your office policy is “We do not run late” you will schedule, triage, and make your decisions appropriately. Your patients will appreciate it.
Those are just six of the many things you can be doing to provide an exceptional dental patient experience. It is absolutely essential that every single patient feels like they are your most important patient, and it starts with us! And then, you can have a practice full of happy patients who stay with you, accept treatment, and refer others!
Richard H. Madow, DDS
Co-founder, The Madow Center for Dental Practice Success
For over thirty years, Dr. Richard Madow and Dr. David Madow, co-founders of The Madow Center for Dental Practice Success, have been helping dentists achieve practice success, increase their revenue, and enjoy dentistry more! To learn more, visit The Madow Center for Dental Practice Success website.