11.25.16 Issue #768 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

How to Win Emergency Patients Over
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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For many practices, emergency patients are a huge source of frustration. They come to you in a panic looking for relief from their pain, and once you provide it, you can almost guarantee you’ll never see them again.

While you’re happy to help these patients, they send your day into chaos only to disappear – which is why you get them in and out of the chair as soon as possible. But what if you could turn them into happy, loyal patients who accept treatment recommendations and refer you to family and friends? That could mean huge growth for practice productivity and your bottom line.

Not sure how to win these patients over? That’s where I come in. I’ve put together a few tips that will help your office better handle emergency patients, as well as make them want to call your practice their dental home.

Develop a script
When emergency patients call your practice, they should not feel like they’re annoying the person on the other end of the line or disrupting your day. That isn’t going to make them want to become loyal patients. But if the person they talk to shows genuine compassion and assures them the doctor can help, there’s a much better chance they’ll schedule a comprehensive exam after you take care of their more immediate problem.

Team members don’t mean to make these patients feel like they’re a nuisance, but if they don’t have a script to follow, it’s easy to say something patients might take the wrong way. Creating scripts will help ensure team members aren’t put on the spot when an emergency patient calls. The script should serve as a general guide to all team members to help them gather all the necessary information from these patients. They should also convey essential details and express a caring tone during the conversation. Trust me, this will make patients feel like they found the right dentist to help with their current situation and will go a long way in making them want to stay loyal to your practice.

Make sure your team members know how important emergency patients are
The truth is, many of your team members likely see emergency patients as a disruption rather than an opportunity for growth. Explain how emergency patients can benefit the practice and then encourage team members to go out of their way to make them feel comfortable once they arrive, whether that means offering water while they wait or helping them fill out paperwork in the comfort of a consult room. Show them you are genuinely concerned and they’ll be more likely to connect with the practice – which might prompt them to schedule a comprehensive exam.

Leave room in the schedule
Not only do you want emergency patients to schedule comprehensive exams before they leave, you want them to schedule them as soon as possible. That’s why I suggest you reserve time in the schedule for emergency patients who want to make appointments. Remember the exam should take place within a week or so after they schedule, not six weeks or six months later.

It’s also a good idea to leave slots open in your schedule for emergencies. That way, your Scheduling Coordinator will know exactly where to put them, alleviating some of the stress that often comes with fitting these patients in last minute.

Look for cues
There’s a reason emergency patients don’t have a dental home, and it’s important for you to find out what that reason is. Train your dental assistant to take note of any obstacles they bring up when discussing scheduling a comprehensive exam. Here are a few common things to take note of:

- They appear scared or anxious
- They keep asking how much treatment will cost, how much pain they can expect or how long the procedure will take
- They keep apologizing because it’s been so long since they’ve seen a dentist
- They seem angry or frustrated
- They mention a negative dental experience has kept them from pursuing comprehensive care

Knowing what their perceived barriers to care are will help you tailor your education. Address their concerns and explain why it’s so important to maintain oral health. Show them exactly what’s going on in their mouth and help them understand the benefits of the services you provide. When you do, they’ll start to see the value in dental care. They’ll also appreciate you taking the time to provide education about their condition and how they can prevent problems in the future.

Emergency patients represent a huge opportunity for your practice. If you can convert 80% of the emergency patients you see into comprehensive exams, it truly will do wonders for your practice. When you plan for emergency patients and educate them and show them you care, they’ll reward you with practice loyalty and referrals.

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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