Can You Recommend Your Dental Practice to a Relative, Friend or Stranger?
I work in a dental practice as a dental manager and part of my job is to present and recommend treatment to patients and to get them financing. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t feel comfortable recommending treatment in our office. Our reception room is outdated and the walls need painting. The treatment rooms are cluttered and the chairs have tape over tears in them. We don’t have internet, email or digital... Patients have to wait an average of twenty minutes to half an hour to be seated. Dr. doesn’t think it makes any difference to the patient as long as they get good care and friendly staff, but I say it does. Who wins this one?
Bettie Bettercare, OM
I would say that you win this one. Office design for attractiveness and for efficiency are two different things, but both are important to meet the expectations of today’s consumer. Studies show that patients want “clean” in any healthcare facility and they want a dental office that doesn’t smell like a dental office. Old fears can surface when a patient smells the mixture of burnt tooth and strong medicaments. The sound of the dental drill in the reception room can cause the blood pressure to rise and the patient to become very anxious when having to wait for longer than ten minutes to be seated.
You have touched on several issues that can and do affect the success of a dental practice. I am assuming that you don’t have a website either, since you mentioned that you don’t have internet or email. A patient’s perception that the doctor is “up to date” is evidenced in the reception room all the way to the treatment rooms and back. A shabby reception room and dental chairs with tape on them can mean the dental care is also unsatisfactory, and that perhaps the materials are also outdated or poor quality.
Patients want a choice to be able to reach you via email, text or phone. Many people no longer have a “home” or landline phone, but almost everyone has a cell phone and the internet. Today, without a website, you are saying I don’t know how or care to offer this important service to my patients. You are becoming obsolete without the technology that is used daily for communication. Studies show that potential patients look at your website to find information about the dentist, the location of the practice and the services you offer. They also want to know about insurance and financing. Often patients read the online reviews posted about your practice prior to picking up the phone or emailing you for an appointment. If the reviews aren’t good, you could lose the opportunity for a new patient more often than you realize.
If the dental equipment is outdated or continually fails while patients are having treatment, this is noticeable to the patient who may have to be in the dental chair longer than anticipated. Competent treatment is central to the dental experience, so the dentist and team need to be up to date and well organized. Patients want what they want and often don’t vocalize their needs. It is easier to go somewhere else where they feel understood and appreciated.
If the dentist and the team make an effort to connect with the patients and foster open communication so that the patient can comfortably express their concerns and issues, it will build a stronger bond of trust. An unrushed, relaxed, but well managed dental practice is what many patients are looking for along with the updated technology that supports excellent customer service and great dental care.
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