9.30.11 Issue #499 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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New Patient Visits Depend on Your Practice Focus
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

At McKenzie Management, one of the many strengths we have is the ability to tailor our practice management recommendations to “fit” the practice that we consult with. We observed over 30 years ago that each and every practice is unique - sometimes in very obvious ways and others in only small and subtle ways, but different, none-the-less. For this reason, to McKenzie Management “one size fits all” does not fit all sizes.

The topic of “what should happen on the first visit?” is always a topic of discussion with our clients. As consultants, our job is to share information with clients to help them make an educated decision about the direction of their practice. The concept runs parallel with you presenting treatment to a patient. Your job is to help them make an educated decision about the dental options and find what works best for them - a bridge, a partial or an implant to replace missing teeth. Is one option better than another? Depends on the patient, their financial means, their tolerance to having something in their mouth that they must take out to clean, how many other missing teeth they have, etc.

Hygiene To address the question, “What should I do on the first visit?” let’s discuss areas that need to be evaluated in order to make an educated decision.

Question #1 - What is the Focus of the Practice?
Many dentists have never really given this any thought, believe it or not. Their website and business card says “family and cosmetic dentistry - walk-ins welcome.  All insurance plans accepted.” This is quite a potpourri of services! Is this a “clinic-type” practice where walk-ins without appointments are encouraged? Okay, but the practice is also a cosmetic practice providing cosmetic-type procedures such as veneers, full-mouth rehabilitation for a new smile, anterior bonding, whitening, etc. It’s a family practice as well. Children are welcome… and all insurance plans are accepted.

In order to efficiently and effectively (and profitably) be able to offer all the above, it's going to take quite a juggler at the front desk - as well as a dentist/dentists that are able to wear many hats at the same time.

Your cosmetic patient in the middle of having their 10 veneers cemented will now have to wait while you visit with the walk-in emergency that needs an extraction. In operatory #1 you have a sweet 5-year old who would much rather be playing outside than having her fillings done, and she's just as vocal about it, as well. There are two hygienists waiting for their exams and they are already running 5 minutes behind as it is… and it is only 10:00 in the morning. I feel the stress just writing about this scenario.

It is very difficult to be “all things to all patients” and do it well. Each of the descriptions of the practice could easily be a practice focus in itself: Family or Cosmetic or Emergency-Focused.

Question #2:  The New Patient Visit - What Now?
Each of the focused examples above would be best served with a variation of the New Patient Visit. Examples:

Family: Carol Jones calls the office to make an appointment “to get her teeth cleaned.”  She saw your practice while driving by and your office is convenient to her work. She also has other family members that she would be interested in making appointments for, as well. What is important to Carol? My guess would be a rapport with a dental office that can provide her with good dental care for her family and herself without a lot of “hoops” to jump through. She is a busy mother with 3 children and time is precious.  Asking her to come for only a Comprehensive Exam for 60-90 minutes without visiting the hygienist may not work for her. Her preference would be to see the doctor AND see the hygienist.

Emergency:  These patients are looking for immediate attention and relief from their dental pain as soon as possible. Seeing a hygienist is not important to them at this point, nor learning about all the other dental needs that they have. Would a comprehensive exam best serve their needs on their first visit?

Cosmetic:  A new patient calling about the ad they saw in the local newspaper about veneers is not calling to “get their teeth cleaned” and they aren’t experiencing a dental emergency. They are anticipating a Comprehensive Exam to discuss their options.  Seeing the hygienist is not expected.

The conclusion is that there is no conclusion! The expectations of the patient relative to their first visit with you are dictated by the services that you provide and your practice “focus.” All the examples above are correct, but maybe not for every office… ”one size fits all” does not fit all practices. What is your practice focus?

My next article will address the Family Focus specifically, and how to determine what fits your practice.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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