Patients are consumers, too. And in today’s competitive market, standing out is not only more challenging but also more critical than ever. Patients aren’t just looking for a dentist who will give them excellent care. They’re also looking for dentists who prioritize convenience, technology, and teledentistry, and above all, create an exceptional experience for their patients. As automated and contactless options have been implemented across practices, these changes have become the standard in the dental industry, and they are here to stay.
It’s essential for dentists to adapt to this shift in expectations and care in order for them to both retain and acquire patients. However, it isn’t an easy adjustment. Between the risk of added costs and limited staff, many practices are struggling to do anything that goes beyond providing basic dental services. Here’s what you need to know about investing in the patient experience, including a few ideas that could help you guarantee that your patients enjoy all aspects of working with you—whether it’s through biannual appointments or experiences outside of the office.
The Patient Experience Goes Beyond Appointments
While the patient experience certainly has a lot to do with how well appointments go—including wait times and interactions with staff—there’s more to it than just creating a seamless experience in-office. You also need to consider how easy it is to stay connected outside of the office, especially when it comes to scheduling and requesting immediate assistance.
Imagine this: One of your patients has started to experience intense, overwhelming jaw pain. She reaches out to your dental practice to set up an appointment; however, you aren’t able to schedule an appointment for a few weeks. Instead, she reaches out to another dental office in the area, and they’re able to schedule her for the next day. After just one visit, they’re able to identify the cause of her jaw pain and begin a treatment plan. Because of the great service and convenience she experienced with the new dental practice, she continues to use them for every biannual visit for years to come.
Why would a patient continue to come to you if they don’t feel that they can rely on you in an emergency? This is especially true when there are so many dental practices out there that will. So, don’t just focus on the appointment experience; consider how you can make scheduling, support, and communication easier. Your patients will appreciate the extra care you give every aspect of their experience with your practice.
Upgrade the Simple Office Visit
Sure, it’s true that an excellent patient experience extends past the typical office visit. However, it’s still an excellent idea to make sure every appointment goes as seamlessly as possible. Here are just a few things that you can do to make sure your patients are happy with their in-office experience.
Create a Warm and Clean Environment
Hopefully, your patients are greeted with a warm welcome from your staff as soon as they walk in. On top of that, they should also walk into a clean office with quality furniture, a mild temperature, and soothing music. Often, your office’s cleanliness and design are the first things your patients notice, so don’t leave them anxious or disappointed.
Keep Waiting Times Short
While it can be challenging at times, trying to ensure a five-minute wait time or less can help make your patients feel valued. If you respect their time, they are more likely to respect yours by showing up for appointments on time. Similarly, once they sit down, try to give them the efficient and accurate service they need to get to the rest of their day.
Pamper Patients in the Chair
There are simple ways to help your patient feel pampered and cared for while they’re in the back for their visit. For example, you could offer them a pillow to lean on, lip balm to counteract dryness, the option to choose their own music, or noise-canceling headphones. If you really want to provide a spa-like experience, you could even have an essential oil diffuser running with soothing scents.
By making simple changes to your office, you can help foster a welcoming environment for all of your patients, ensuring that they have the best experience possible.
Provide Additional Care Offerings
A special way to appeal to patients—both old and new—is to offer them additional services that not every dental practice provides. For example, providing sleep medicine capabilities like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screening and oral appliance therapies in your practice can help you reach a new group of patients, as well as improve the lives of those you’ve had for a while. Providing such care will give you a unique edge over your competitors. Plus, it will show your patients just how much you care about their overall health and happiness.
Providing sleep medicine is particularly powerful because so many people struggle with OSA. In fact, it is estimated that nearly one billion people worldwide have the disorder. On top of that, 80 percent of them remain undiagnosed and untreated! Plus, OSA is associated with a number of serious health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression, and more. This means there are millions of people who aren’t living the healthy lives they could be, and they don’t even realize it. You can help. According to the ADA, dentists are actually in the best position to screen for OSA and provide oral appliance therapy.
Don’t stand by as your patients struggle with a serious disorder like OSA. By integrating sleep medicine, you can not only help your patients achieve better sleep every night, but you can also drive more success at your practice and earn revenue. Keep an eye out for the next blog in our practice transformation series to learn more about why you should consider sleep medicine.
Don’t forget that patients are customers that you need to retain like any other business. One of the best ways you can do just that is to invest in the patient experience and ensure that they not only enjoy coming to their appointments but also find it easy to interact with your staff outside of the office. By making scheduling effortless, upgrading the simple office visit, and providing unique services, you can show your patients you care and take the first step in transforming your dental practice.