How To Educate Patients About Your Practice and Grow Your Bottom Line

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

When patients don’t appreciate what you do or understand the value of the care you provide, it can really hurt your practice. They don’t show up for appointments or accept treatment you recommend, making it difficult to meet production numbers and grow your bottom line.

That’s why focusing on education is so critical. The more educated patients are, the more likely they are to value dentistry, keep their appointments and go forward with treatment. And while educating them about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health is key, it’s also important to talk with them about the services you provide that can help them meet their oral health goals.

Offer clear aligners, implants or veneers? Make sure patients know that. If you don’t, they might assume they have to go to another practice for those services—hurting practice productivity and profits.

Ready to grow your patient base? Here are tips to help you properly educate your patients so they not only appreciate what you do, they stay loyal to your office.

Ask them about their goals. While some patients will tell you exactly what types of services they’re interested in without being prompted, most won’t. They’re nervous while they’re in the chair and might be hesitant to ask about treatment options you don’t bring up.

Make it a point to ask patients about their oral health goals and what changes they’d like to see in their smile. Their answers will give you the opportunity to tailor their education. Tell them about the services you offer that will help them reach their goals. Show them before and after photos of successful cases so they can see the work you do. They’ll have a much better feel for their options, and how you can help them get the smile they’ve always wanted.

Make marketing a priority. I know what you’re thinking. Marketing is a waste of time and money, right? Wrong. Well-executed marketing can help you attract new patients to your practice while also keeping current patients loyal. The problem is, many dentists invest in one-time campaigns and think they’re done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. For marketing to be effective, you need to invest in continual, targeted campaigns that include consistent branding and messaging. These are the types of marketing efforts that grow your patient base and your bottom line.

To get started, I suggest you commit a certain amount of your budget to marketing each year. From there, develop a plan. Don’t be afraid to hire outside help if you need to. It’s also important to get team members involved. This will not only generate excitement in your practice, it will help keep messaging consistent no matter who your patients talk to.

Don’t rely on just one marketing method. There are a variety of marketing tools available, and I suggest you use them. Here are a few examples:

-Put up signs in your reception area that promote the services you offer. This may prompt patients to ask you about them.

-Email patients a monthly newsletter filled with educational articles and details on practice promotions.

-Take advantage of snail mail. Consider including marketing flyers with patient statements or other communications from the practice.

-Place educational brochures at the front desk. Patients can browse through them as they wait for their appointment.

-Develop a robust website that’s easy to navigate. If patients can’t find your website or become frustrated once they do, they’re probably not going to schedule an appointment. Make it easy for them, and include all the information they might want such as practice location, services offered, practice hours and team bios. Testimonials and before and after photos are also great to include, and don’t forget your contact information.

-Educate patients chairside. That might mean answering their questions or showing them educational videos. I also suggest you use products like intraoral cameras and radiographs to show them exactly what’s going on in their mouths.

-Provide exceptional customer service throughout the patient visit.

Implementing these marketing methods will help patients see the true benefit of dentistry and what your practice provides, ultimately boosting production and revenues.

Help patients feel connected to your practice. Focusing on building patient connections is one of the best ways to grow your practice. Patients want to know you care about their well-being, and that they’re not just a revenue source. They want to feel comfortable at your practice and know they can trust your recommendations. That is what earns their loyalty.

Providing education helps to develop these connections, but it doesn’t end there. It’s also important to take the time to get to know your patients and to build a rapport. Ask them about their families and their jobs, and encourage team members to do the same. Remember important events they mention, such as a job interview or their upcoming wedding. Call them after a procedure to see how they’re doing. Patients will really appreciate these extra touches, and you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty.

Educated patients are more likely to appreciate you and accept treatment you recommend. Make education part of every appointment and you’ll start to grow a strong patient base, leading to increased practice productivity and a more robust bottom line.

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