Every dental practice – no matter the size – wants new patients. You need new patients to replace clients who leave for some reason or the other. They might move to another city, change insurance plans or even require services that you don’t provide. New patients are the lifeblood of your clinic and the key to long-term growth.
Onboarding New Dental Patients
Patients who visit your clinic regularly will be familiar with your procedures. New clients do not. Every clinic should have a process to greet new patients and streamline the first visit. You should strive to make a good impression so that the new client becomes a loyal patient. Here are a few things you can do to make the transition easier:
Schedule Appointments Promptly
Who doesn’t like to have a full appointment book? Unfortunately, it also means you don’t have open slots for new patients. It’s always better to block a few slots per week exclusively for new patients. You should be able to schedule an appointment for a new patient who calls within the next 48 to 72 hours.
It can be hard to not fill up those slots when you have an existing patient asking for an appointment. But it is a small price to pay in the long run. You also need to have a plan for when those slots go unfilled. As an available slot gets closer (around 48 hours), you can book existing patients instead. If you have a waiting list, start making calls to fit those patients into your schedule.
Send out a Welcome Packet
You don’t have to wait until the patient walks into the clinic to welcome them. You patients will need information before their first visit such as forms to fill, medical records to bring with them, contact information, and directions to the office. With more people using email, you can send a message with a link to your website for some of the information they need. You can also attach all the relevant forms that need to be filled in. If you still use paper, you can send these forms in the mail as well.
This simple action offers multiple benefits. It shows that you are thoughtful and considerate of your patients. It creates an immediate impression of competence and professionalism. Apart from that, you save valuable time in the clinic as the patient can fill out the forms in their home and bring it with them. How often have you seen patients hesitating because they don’t have the relevant information on hand? Sending out the forms in advance will help prevent gaps in the patient’s dental record.
Provide an Itemized List of Services
This might seem like a no-brainer but not all practices implement this useful tip. Few patients will remember everything you did during the visit. Most people only remember to make the next appointment and any medicines they need to pick up. Providing an itemized list ensures that they know you provide comprehensive diagnostics. It also serves as a record, so they don’t have to rely on their memory for the next visit.
Not all procedures show up on a billing statement either. You probably scan for oral cancer during the appointment but don’t include it since it’s not chargeable. Use the custom coding/billing feature to make it appear on the walkout slip with a $0 fee.
Show your patients you care about their health, beyond the cleaning and maintenance visits each year. Use these tips to create an effective onboarding process for that amazing first experience every dental clinic strives for.