11.30.12 Issue #560 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Patient Retention
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

You’ve been practicing dentistry for 20 plus years, yet you still have the same amount of hygiene days as you did when you added a hygienist 18 years ago. You are seeing new patients and get about 12-14 new patients a month, but you have open time in hygiene too. This may be a good time to ask yourself: “what is going wrong?” Shouldn’t you need more hygiene time if you are keeping your existing patients and having new patients come in the front door?

Having new patients come in the front door is very important. However, it is even more important to keep your existing patients while adding new patients to your practice. First, we will look at what is hot right now in marketing: social media and getting good reviews online - and the more the better. Even when deciding what to buy at a store, people are looking to see what others thought of the product delivered after they have used it for a while. The same is true in dentistry. Patients want to know that other people have been happy with the office they are looking at going to.

Are you and your team taking the time to read the reviews that are written by your patients? If a patient comments that something needs to be worked on, are you making the necessary changes, or are you ignoring it? This is one place to start making a difference in your practice. Work on increasing the number of reviews you have online, and attempt to make them all five star. After a new patient visits your practice, ask them if they were happy with their treatment and hand them a thank you note. Ask them to take a minute and go to their favorite site and give your office a review.

As we all know, there are a few main reasons why people are not pounding the doors down at dental offices: fear, pain, cost, and not seeing a need. Making sure the patient is comfortable throughout the entire appointment is very important. This is as easy as stopping every so often and asking the patient, “Are you doing all right?” If they aren’t, then find out what is bothering them. They may have a kink in their neck and need the headrest to be changed, or they may have extremely sensitive ears and the sound of the ultrasonic scaler is driving them nuts. Possibly it is the vibration or even the temperature of the water on their teeth. At times, changing the tip on the ultra sonic, adjusting the power, or using the ultra sonic only in the areas where you really have to will make a difference in whether a patient stays in your practice or goes to the dentist down the street. There are little adjustments we can do to make a patient more comfortable without taking away from our ability to provide quality of care.

If the patient is not numb enough, give them some more and do something else like your clinical notes in the other room and come back. Call patients that have had root planing and see how they are doing. Doctor, if you did a big cosmetic case or a lot of implants and crowns, call the patient. These small gestures leave a lasting impression on patients.

Hygienist, when the patient leaves your room, they should be informed about the treatment needed and why. The clinical questions should be minimal when the patient is handed off to the front desk, and if they still have questions, the hygienist that saw the patient should answer the clinical questions. With that said, doctors, it is best if you do the periodic exam towards the beginning of the appointment. This will allow the hygienist more time to reinforce your treatment recommendations and answer any questions the patient may have about the treatment needed or the procedure that will be done.

The more educated and informed patients are by your dental team, the more comfortable they will feel in your office. It is equally important that the person responsible for going over the insurance and patient portion estimates make sure they have dotted all I’s and crossed all T’s. The closer your office is with patient portions, the happier the patient will be. 

There are many other changes your office can make to ensure that patients will never want to leave to go to another practice. They may even be willing to pay a little extra insurance premium so they can stay in the care of your practice!

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151

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