How to Stay in Contact with Patients Between Dental Visits

November 12, 2021

In a 2014 study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, analysts determined that 59 percent of Americans consider the physician-patient relationship the most important factor when identifying a high-quality provider. Shockingly, only 11 percent of respondents listed the physician’s ability to diagnose and treat illnesses as an essential factor to consider. This shows that in the modern world, personal connection is key to happiness, our health and wellness, and even the success of our business.

Dental practices are no exception. Dental patients want to feel like you care, and they’re much more likely to honor their appointments and visit you biannually if they feel a genuine connection exists between them, you, and your staff.

So, the question is this: How can dentists stay in contact with their patients between dental visits? From courtesy calls to connecting on social media and organizing events, here are the best ways to stay in contact with your patients throughout the year.

Call

A study done by PEW Research Center in 2019 concluded that just 57 percent of individuals believe that their doctors genuinely care about their best interest. While this may be for several reasons, building a real connection and gaining trust in our doctors is key to increasing this percentage. How do we build our repertoire? You can start at the foundation by going back to the beginning and viewing it like making new friends.

Welcome your patients, new and old, into your practice. Take note of their appearance, their choice of words, and their body language to guide the conversation. Learn about them, their likes, dislikes, family, profession, and what they are passionate about. Write this information down in their folder so you can reference it for future visits. Once you have a solid foundation with your patients, you can continue to build relationships between visits.

The first and most traditional method to connect with your patients between dental visits is simply calling them. Patients enjoy not only receiving a courtesy reminder for their upcoming appointment, but an occasional check-in to see how they’re doing. The perfect time to make this call is during a patient’s birthday. They will enjoy the well-wishes and a reminder that their dental provider is more than just a medical provider: They’re also friends.

Now, before you get overwhelmed by step one, remember: Your dental office is more than just you. It’s a team. You do not have to do it all on your own. Get your office staff on the same page about building trust and friendship with patients. Excite them about opportunities to connect with patients beyond the standard exams and check-and-cleans. Gauge the room and select a couple of social, bubbly individuals to assist in making these birthday and courtesy calls. Odds are that someone will enjoy taking this on as a daily responsibility. This is an excellent way to share the workload and maximize the wonderfully diverse personalities that exist in your practice.

Connect on Social Media

It’s no secret that the digital world has changed the way individuals interact with each other, consume information, and gather resources. This is no different for healthcare providers. Gone are the days of depending solely on proximity and word-of-mouth to acquire new patients. Instead, patients increasingly rely on online reviews, an individual’s website, and digital presence to establish credibility and connection.

In fact, a 2012 survey revealed that 41 percent of patients consider social media when selecting a hospital, medical office, or practitioner. And 60 percent of doctors shared that social media improved their quality of patient care. This is to say that in the 21st century, social media is essential and directly correlates with the overall success of your business. This is because branding and public perception are critical to natural growth and organic marketing.

You can begin by creating profiles on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Encourage your staff to participate, share posts, and engage with your patients. It is essential to remember to keep things professional. While social media can do a lot of good, it can also do a lot of bad. Establishing standards with your office staff and keeping positive and friendly on social media is key to your success. Ask your patients to leave a good review and follow your pages to stay up-to-date on all things related to your dental practice.

Additionally, to aid in engagement on your accounts, consider running contests or giveaways. This will not only increase your rankings but increase your public perception as you give back to your community. You could give away a free electric toothbrush, whitening kit, or in-office consultation. Enlist the help of your partners, and market the giveaway with a sign or flyer in your office. Patients will appreciate the opportunity, and you will notice natural growth in your patient base. Everyone appreciates generous providers.

Organize Events

The final way you can connect with your patients outside of regular dental exams and routine cleanings is by organizing an event. Events are a great way to give back to your dental community and allow your staff and patients to celebrate their oral health with their families. In 2017, Eventbrite released a Millennial Research Report, gathering data on everything from event attendance to social media influence and more. The data collected determined that 75 percent of millennials—individuals born between 1981 and 1996—prefer experiences over things. This is significant as millennials currently make up one-third of the US population. Events are an excellent and effective way to connect with this large, influential demographic.

Consider organizing a tournament with games (such as ping pong or cornhole), making or catering food, and opening the doors for your fellow healthcare providers to get involved too. Live events give individuals an opportunity to connect with their community and foster a sense of belonging. Be sure to have your office staff and their families in attendance, as patients especially appreciate human connection, seeing behind the curtain, and, again, recognizing their healthcare providers as real people and friends.

Create a hashtag for your event and encourage participants to share social posts to increase visibility. The report mentioned above also revealed that 48 percent of millennials attend events to have something to share on social media, and 61 percent strive to create social media content at events. This goes to show that events are an excellent way to gain free digital marketing. And social media is a powerful tool that can help grow and establish your brand/practice.

There are many effective ways to stay in contact with your patients outside of their biannual visits, from courtesy calls to connecting on social media and organizing events. Remember to keep things professional and positive at all times. A healthy and friendly public perception is key to organic growth and success for years to come.