3.20.15 Issue #680 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

6 Ways to Convert Emergency Patients into Loyal Patients
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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For most practices, emergency patients are a huge source of frustration. You do your best to work them into your busy schedule and get them out of pain, only to never hear from them again. They bring stress and chaos to your day, and no matter how many emergency patients you see, they never seem to turn into loyal patients who are proud to call your practice their dental home.

Yes, it is frustrating, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to turn emergency patients into loyal patients, you just need to make a few changes in how you and your team members approach them.

I’ve put together six tips to help you take advantage of this huge growth opportunity, and to turn emergency visits into increased production and revenue for your practice.

1. Create a Script
Emergency patients should receive a warm welcome when they call your practice. Patients should never feel like they’re annoying the team member on the other end of the line, or that they’re causing a major disruption to your day. Instead, they should hang up the phone knowing your practice is concerned about their situation, and ready to help.

The best way to make this happen is to create phone scripts. If team members have a script, they won’t be put on the spot when an emergency patient calls. They’ll know exactly how to handle the call, and will start laying the groundwork to turn this emergency into a comprehensive exam. Remember, the script should serve as a general guide to assist all team members, no matter who picks up the phone, in gathering necessary information, conveying essential details and expressing a helpful, caring tone throughout the conversation.

2. Increase Awareness Among Your Team Members
When emergency patients walk into your practice they’re likely scared, stressed, in pain and in need of more attention than your typical patient. Remind team members that they may need to show these patients a little more concern and empathy than normal, and to never come off as annoyed. 

3. Make Them Feel at Ease
Chances are, patients who come to your practice with a dental emergency are going to be a little anxious. Help them relax by greeting them with a smile and assuring them they’re in great hands.

These patients may also be a little frazzled, so ask them if they’d like help filling out their paperwork. If they’re in a lot of pain or discomfort, I recommend taking them to a private consultation room where a team member can help them fill out the necessary forms. Once they’re done, let them know how long it will be before they see the doctor. Simply put, make them feel as comfortable as possible. They’ll appreciate the effort, and may even tell family and friends about the excellent care they received while at your practice.

4. Watch for Cues
When talking with emergency patients, your dental assistant should take note of any obstacles they are likely to bring up when the dental team speaks with them about scheduling a comprehensive exam. Do they appear scared or anxious? Do they keep asking about how much treatment will cost, how much pain they can expect or how long the procedure will take? Do they keep apologizing because it’s been so long since they’ve seen a dentist? Do they seem angry or frustrated? Has a negative dental experience kept them from pursuing comprehensive care?

If you know why these patients have avoided the dentist for so long, you can tailor your education to ease their specific concerns and fears, which will help them to overcome these barriers and make them more likely to schedule a comprehensive exam before they leave.

5. Stress the Importance of Ongoing Care
While you have them chairside, educate emergency patients about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Use tools such as an intraoral camera, hand mirrors and educational videos to help them see exactly what’s going on in their mouth, and why they can no longer ignore it.

Continue to educate patients after treatment is complete. Escort them to the front desk and stress the importance of continual care. Tell your Scheduling Coordinator to schedule the patient for a comprehensive exam as soon as possible. There should be time in the schedule reserved for emergency patients who are ready to make appointments. You want these patients to come back for their comprehensive exam within a week, not six weeks or six months down the road.

6. Follow-Up
Even if an emergency patient schedules a comprehensive exam before leaving, be sure to follow-up with a phone call to check on the patient that evening or the next. Ask how they are feeling, and thank them for allowing you and your team to provide care. This will go a long way in winning patients over, but the follow-up shouldn’t end there. Within a few days, mail the patient a package filled with information about your practice and the services you offer. Attach a handwritten note that specifically addresses the patient’s experience and expresses concern for his or her well-being. Let the patient know you and your team are looking forward to their next appointment, and to visit the practice website or call the office with any questions.

Emergency patients don’t have to be a source of frustration. Instead of getting annoyed when they call and disrupt your day, think of them as an opportunity for practice growth. Follow these tips and you won’t have to wonder what happened to those emergency patients who never came back, because they’ll be loyal patients who are helping to boost your practice productivity and your bottom line.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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