Do you accept my insurance? You used to take my insurance. Why don't you now? Many dental offices have stopped accepting dental insurance plans, and patients now realize they can look outside of why they initially chose their dental office and rethink their provider and what is important to them—outside of which dentist accepts their insurance. There is a massive opportunity for dental practices to stand out and attract the types of patients they want in their practice.
It's time to "date your patients" and create the experience they have been looking for in an office while they may have "settled" for an office because the office accepted their insurance plan. In my 30 years of experience in dentistry, starting as a dental assistant, a dental hygienist, and now a practice consultant with a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, here are the top 3 things patients notice about you and your practice.
Communication can cause and solve most problems in any area of life. Communication is about clear communication with the patient to help them understand their recommended care, the consequences of non-treatment, and their solutions. Patients can also sense when the dental team is on edge or is not getting along. What is your team communication saying about your office and your team?
2. Make it Easy
Are you making it easy for your patients to make appointments, check in, make treatment decisions, and make payments? Some of our patients are investing a lot of money in oral health, and we don't make it easy for them. We give them too many payment options or not enough payment options. We say "no" to our patients when they call into our practices. How can you say "yes" in a way that gets them into the practice and guide them through their decisions? Here is an example. A patient calls and says they need an implant and would like a quote on the procedure. Instead of saying, "we don't give quotes over the phone. You need to come in to be evaluated by the doctor", you could say…" do you know if the tooth had 1 or 2 roots?" The patient will likely tell you that they don't know the answer. And then, you could respond that to decide the best treatment for the patient, the doctor prefers to know about the bone structure and conditions of the mouth to give the patient the best options and cost estimate. That doesn't sound like no, does it? It sounds like a partnership.
3. Give Them Autonomy
Are you filtering what you recommend to your patients because you think they can't afford it, don't want it, or don't need it? Patients can't make choices about what they don't know. It is what it is, and they need what they need.
These 3 points ultimately build trust and show your patients that you care for their well-being. Patients want to feel respected and validated and want to trust you. What is your team doing intentionally to create a trust for them to choose you?
Submitted by Dr Kelly Tanner, PhD, RDH