2.17.17 Issue #780 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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The Importance of Patient Relationships
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dentist Case Study #188

The doctor’s concerns: When the dentist from this case study came to us, she was struggling with patient retention. She was also seeing fewer new patients each month and regularly dealing with last-minute cancellations and no-shows. As you can imagine, she was frustrated and ready to make the necessary changes to create a loyal patient base and ultimately grow her practice.

That was about two years ago, and after working with McKenzie Management she’s noticed many positive changes. Here are some of the current practice stats:

• The number of new patients has increased by 20% a year, with about 80% of those new patients coming from referrals. The others typically make an appointment because they’ve seen the ad she started placing in the local newspaper or because she accepts their insurance.
• Production and collections have started to increase by almost 30% every year
• Case acceptance is close to 85%
• The Hygiene Department continues to grow. She keeps adding additional hygiene days and has a patient retention rate that hovers at just about 90%.

You’re probably wondering how this doctor, who was once struggling, has achieved so much success. Yes, she spent some time working on her systems, but she also started focusing more on building patient relationships. She now understands dentistry isn’t just about creating beautiful restorations. It’s also about the people.

Without patients, you don’t have a reason to come to work each day. But, patients have a lot of options these days, so if they don’t feel a connection to your practice, there’s a good chance they’ll seek that connection elsewhere. The doctor in this example took the necessary steps to build these relationships and grow her practice – and you can too.

Focus on Customer Service
This is key to growing a dental practice. When you and your team members provide exceptional customer service, your patients feel more cared for and connected to your practice. That means they’ll not only come back, they’ll be more likely to accept treatment and refer friends and family.

Here’s how this doctor improved customer service in her practice:

Made sure fees weren’t the highest in town.
Updated the waiting area and made a point to invest in the best products and equipment possible.
Trained team members to greet every patient by name and with a warm smile, began offering patients water, tea or coffee as they wait.
Started sending patients balloons during their birthday week.
Created a program to reward patients who refer with buy-one-get-one-free cards from local restaurants.
The doctor now calls all new patients to ask about their experience, and calls patients she treated the evening after a larger procedure to see how they’re doing.

This doctor truly goes out of her way to make sure patients have an exceptional experience – and as you can see from the practice numbers, it’s really paid off. Implementing even a few of these ideas into your office will go a long way in enhancing customer service, building patient relationships and growing your practice.

Maintain Patient Relationships
Sending patient surveys and e-newsletters is one of the ways this doctor reaches out to patients after they leave the office, helping to keep dentistry and her practice at the top of patients’ minds. She’s also willing to work with patients to make treatment more affordable. That includes offering incentives as well as third party financing to help ease the financial burden of more expensive procedures.

To get more patients on the hygiene schedule, she offers exams and radiographs for free. This gets patients without insurance in the chair so she can educate them about the importance of oral health, as well as diagnose any problems that need treatment. During case presentations, her Treatment Coordinator continues the education and also talks with patients about financing options such as CareCredit.

She also has found a way to ease the pain and frustration that comes with broken appointments. The Scheduling Coordinator recently implemented an “On Call Program” for patients who live nearby. If they can come in on short notice, they receive a 10% adjustment to their fee. This helps alleviate the chaos last minute-cancellations bring, while also helping ensure the practice meets daily production goals. And of course, patients feel good about getting a financial incentive.

Make Patients a Priority in Your Practice
Dentistry is about so much more than treating patients and then sending them on their way. It’s about educating those patients and taking the time to get to know them. When you build a rapport with patients and provide customer service that’s above and beyond, they’re much more likely to stay loyal to your practice. They’ll put trust in your team and accept more of the treatment you recommend. Focusing on the patient experience is one of the best ways to grow your practice and your bottom line.

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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