5.18.07 - Issue # 271 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Communication Campaign
Your Mission
Listen to Patients

Keep Your Patients Coming With Just One Call
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Patient communication. It’s studied. It’s analyzed.  It’s pondered. What works, what doesn’t? What’s in, what’s out? While the opinions on the best methods of communication may vary, one point remains constant. The more frequent communication practices have with patients, the stronger the bond patients have to the practice.

While that may be true, the reality is that few dental teams give much thought to their communication with patients when they are in the chair, let alone in between appointments. And smaller practices, in particular, simply assume that they have neither the human nor financial resources to do anything but the basics in their patient communication efforts: answer the phone, greet the patients when they come in, wish them well when they leave.  

But, as with everything else, a little extra effort can make a huge difference in reducing the numbers of patients who leave your practice for another. A bit of gentle encouragement will prompt a patient to move forward on treatment they’ve long wanted but, for whatever reason, didn’t pursue. A periodic greeting from the dental team will link the patients to the practice and the practice to the patients at various times in between regularly scheduled appointments. These seemingly insignificant gestures encourage a patient to stay with a practice rather than go elsewhere for dental care.  

A happy birthday message, a congratulations on a noteworthy accomplishment, or a Happy Holidays greeting are subtle means of regularly reminding patients of your interest in them. However, these concepts often fall into the “it would be great, but we just don’t have the time” category for many practices. I would understand that argument if it weren’t for packages like Elexity’s Annual Patient Communications Campaign. This is one of the best and simplest marketing tools I’ve seen.

Elexity constructs and delivers for dental practices an Annual Communications Campaign that enables dental teams to reach out to patients more frequently and more easily than ever before, enabling practices to communicate with patients every 2 to 3 months.

This annual campaign is developed based on input from the doctor and staff, yet it’s delivered by a professional Elexity marketing team. Elexity makes it very easy for the practice, providing sample scripts that can be edited to convey your practice’s specific message. Then at key times during the year, patients are contacted with a specific greeting and a special message from the practice. This is a convenient and tremendously effective way to notify your patients about special services, such as whitening, encourage them to schedule their hygiene appointments, notify them that you are now offering a new product, as well as provide any other information that you want to bring to your patient’s attention.

A sample Annual Patient Communications Campaign might look like this:

  • February - Happy Valentine’s Day (teeth whitening promotion)
  • May - Happy Mothers Day. (teeth whitening promotion coming into the summer season)
  • July - Happy 4th of July
  • September - Benefits Reminder Call
  • December - Happy Holidays/New Year Call to active patients

Because Elexity works with most dental practice management software programs, it handles the patient contacts without imposing additional demands on the staff. The campaign is incredibly easy, time efficient, and best of all it enables your practice to maintain a presence in your patients’ lives in between regularly scheduled visits.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Getting Your Mission to Your Neighborhood
Simple Marketing Tools For Building Your Practice

Discussion of marketing and the best way to promote your dental practice is an important element of McKenzie’s Advanced Business Training.  Dr. Barnes (not his real name) a recent attendee, had resistance when the subject of marketing or advertising was brought into the conversation.  Dr. Barnes felt that so many people in our society live in a world of “isolation and loneliness”.  “Advertising is about money and I want to show people that I care about their health and their smile.  I have always felt that advertising is tacky and desperate” said Dr. Barnes.

Defining Dr. Barnes’ Mission Statement (or values and purpose to his business) was the beginning of the process of his marketing campaign.  The mission or purpose is the core of the practice, not a goal but a directive.  The mission statement asks this question: Why do we exist?  Or why do I get up in the morning and go to the office?”  Mission statements should be greater than a paycheck, mutual funds or a stock portfolio.  It should speak to the community and to the world in a special way.  To develop a personal mission statement, you must be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Do I have passion for what I do?
  2. What do I want to do?
  3. What are my capabilities?
  4. What contributions do I want to make to the community or to the world?
  5. How do I want to be remembered?
  6. What procedures or part of my professional day gives me the most satisfaction?
  7. How satisfied am I with my practice at the level it is now?
  8. What gives my daily practice life meaning?

When we define what we are doing, then we can apply these principles to where we want to go.  Sometimes answering these questions is not an easy task.  Many people get up and go to work like robots and never ask why or where they are going.  To develop the practice mission you must now look to answering the following:

  1. What are the strengths of the practice?
  2. What are the weaknesses?
  3. What do I want to accomplish in my practice?
  4. What kind of patients do I want to treat?
  5. What kind of patients am I treating now?
  6. What are my patients’ needs and wants?
  7. What is the purpose of the practice?
  8. What makes my practice unique to other similar practices?
  9. What can I do to create my own “niche” or special value?
  10. What are my special talents?
  11. What are the special talents of my team?

A Mission Statement should speak of passion and purpose. It should be compelling to the point that it draws in the entire team to work together for the same cause.  It says who you are and why you are doing what you do to the world.  When you have completed your mission statement, put it on a plaque on the wall.  In difficult times, it will help you to focus and find the positive force to pull you through your days.

Review your mission statement with the entire team once a year.  When hiring new team members, make sure that they understand your mission and that they share the same values.

In designing any marketing piece or even in speaking to your patients, the core of the mission statement will be in your words.  When you have clarified your purpose to yourself, it will become evident to the patient and the community.

Dr. Barnes wanted the community to understand that he was first and foremost about improving the quality of life for his patients.  He wanted to focus on a marketing campaign that would introduce himself to his neighborhood as a caring professional that wanted to give the best care and latest technology in a comfortable atmosphere.  To get the word out he went door-to-door to each business in the area and introduced himself.  He left business cards and flyers telling about the services and products he offered.  Writing an article about the relationship between periodontal health and cardiac health for the local community periodical showed his concern.  He began speaking at local functions and clubs about the subject.  He instructed his front office team to begin reactivating patients with a new letter that he had composed stating his mission and asking them to return to his practice.

Dr. Barnes’ passion directed his practice to new heights and brought the team together in purpose.

Let your mission be to bring the passion back to your practice.  Need help?  Give us a call.

For more information on McKenzie's Advanced Training Programs for Dentists, Office Managers and Front Office, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or
visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.



Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Stop and Listen to Your Patients

A practice may see a lot of new patients in a month. However, if that patient only comes in for one treatment with the hygienist and never returns to the practice again, how beneficial was the time spent by the doctor treatment planning the patient for thousands of dollars of treatment? Your office may never complete that treatment let alone start it.

Then you ask, why is the practice production decreasing? Why do I have so many openings in the hygiene department when I have so many new patients coming in? What are we doing wrong?

The answer may be easier said than done. Do you and your team listen to your patients? During the new patient exam is anybody asking the patient what his or her major concern is? What changes do they want to make to their mouth? What do they want? The patient is the person that will help pay your bills and may be a future referral source to your practice.

What about when the hygienist is providing a professional hygiene appointment; whether it is a prophylaxis, periodontal maintenance, or root planing, is the hygienist really listening to the patient’s concerns?  The hygienists may think they are listening but perhaps they are too busy talking and telling the patient what they are concerned about. It does not matter how long a patient has been coming to your practice. The day a member of your team does not listen to the patient’s concerns is the day the patient retention may start to decline in your practice.

Some hygienists use an ultrasonic scaler on every patient. Does the hygienist take the time to find out how the patient feels about the use of the ultrasonic? Or does the hygienist just go about normal protocol? Does your hygienist provide treatment based on the patients individual needs? Does the hygienist modify treatment in order to make it a more pleasant experience for the patient? If the patient has had periodontal surgery two times and the patient informs the provider that their teeth are sensitive to the ultrasonic scaler does she/he stop using the ultrasonic scaler or just continue on? Is your hygienist, or anybody on the team, including yourself, completely aware of the patient rapport being established? Is the only patient rapport being established perhaps bad patient rapport?

When it comes to patient rapport, we as clinicians really need to take the time to listen to our patients. We should consider ways that will enable the patient to be more comfortable while allowing us to provide the quality of care needed.

If the patient does not like the use of an ultrasonic scaler because of the discomfort, then it is up to us as clinicians to find a way to make the patient more comfortable. Maybe we really do not need to use the ultrasonic on this patient. Depending on the laws in your state, if it is a periodontal maintenance appointment, anesthetize the patient in the areas that are sensitive. There is so much technology out there and the patients are more aware than they ever have been. The patient knows they have choices and they can go wherever they are going to be heard.

Therefore, it is imperative for us as health care providers to take the time and listen and learn about our patients and their concerns. Most of the time we will not be enabled to move forward with our treatment until we have met their needs.

Yes, it is our place as a dental professional to inform the patient of treatment needed immediately, but we should make sure that the treatment and concerns that the patient brought forward are addressed first, and then go over our concerns. Many times it is just a matter of educating the patient about the stages of treatment in order to provide the best treatment that will last the longest amount of time.

We know as dental professionals that doing a full mouth reconstruction without consideration for the periodontal disease is not in the best interest of the patient. However, this patient wants full mouth reconstruction. This is the time you treatment plan the full mouth reconstruction and the periodontal treatment and educate the patient on the different stages of treatment.

This is also the time the hygienist or dentist may also want to take the time to inform the patient about what future treatment may need to be done, and why. By “planting the seed” in the patient’s mind about what may need to be done you have just helped in creating this as a concern to the patient. Make sure this future treatment is recorded in the patient’s record so it will be continually monitored and the patient will be continually reminded that you are monitoring the particular areas and their need for care.

With patients educating themselves about their health via so many mediums such as the Internet, television, and the beauty magazine of the month, we as healthcare professionals should be more aware of their concerns and take the time to build patient rapport by listening, educating, and modifying our protocol when able and necessary.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

 

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