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Low Hanging Fruit to Improve the Dental Care Experience


Managing your own dental practice is not an easy task. You have to juggle the responsibilities of being a dentist while also running a successful healthcare organization. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of your practice.

However, the most important element of a successful clinic is the patient experience. At the end of the day, attracting new patients or retaining current clients will depend on whether you can provide a superior patient experience. As a healthcare professional, it is tempting to focus solely on the clinical aspects of your practice.

But the patient experience covers more than the time they spend in your chair or with the hygienist. You may not think it but the decor in your waiting room or the attitude of the receptionist can make or break the patient experience. Here are a few small changes (apart from clinical aspects) you can make to enhance the dental care experience:

Offer Flexible Payment Options

One of the main obstacles to treatment acceptance is the cost. Quite a few patients hesitate to visit the dentist or accept treatment options because they believe it will be too expensive. Many people don’t even know the extent of their insurance coverage for dental care! It’s up to your office to provide multiple alternatives for payment.

But what can you do if you already accept a wide variety of insurance plans? Regardless of the type of dental insurance, most plans need some form of payment from the patient. Make it easier for your clients to pay by accepting cash, personal checks, credit or debit cards etc. You can also partner with financial institutions to offer special payment plans. The bottom line is that you need to eliminate the financial constraints that burden dental care decisions.

Continuous Training for Your Staff

Most dental practices have two types of employees – dental professionals and administrative staff. Most healthcare professionals continue to learn even while they’re working by attending seminars, training sessions, short-term courses etc. But the same may not be true of your administrative workers. Encourage your staff members to keep up with the latest innovations in their domain, whether it is customer service or medical data entry.

It is also important to cross train your employees across different areas. Your front desk employees like the receptionist or office manager could use basic training in medical terminology and dental procedures. Similarly, dentists and hygienists can benefit from improving their communication skills and other non-clinical tasks. Having trained staff will increase productivity and enhance the overall patient experience.

Tweak Your Scheduling System

Scheduling is more than booking appointments for patients. A good system will help you manage patient flow, fill up empty slots during off-peak hours, and boosts production so your staff is not idle. It also reduces stress for both staff and patients. Few people like going to the dentist and you don’t want to increase frustration by having them wait for their appointment.

Many EDR applications include scheduling software. A quality system will also integrate with your patient portal. Upgrade your system or purchase new software if necessary. You want to provide multiple ways for patients to make an appointment – online, by calling in, even text message if possible. New patients should be able to book an appointment within 72 hours. Keep at least a couple of slots free during each week for emergencies or new patients.

It’s not always the big changes (new location, offices or technology) that catch the attention of your patients. Small changes like offering flexible payment options or instant appointments go a long way in creating an exceptional patient experience.