How To Irritate Patients

In the competitive world of dentistry, it's not just about fixing and cleaning teeth; it's about creating an unforgettable journey for your patients. From the initial phone call to the moment they leave your office, every step matters. We're diving deep into the intricacies of patient interaction, addressing the pitfalls that could be costing you positive reviews. Picture this – prompt responses, welcoming facilities, and a team that not only understands procedures but communicates them effectively. So, fellow practice captains, buckle up for a crash course in elevating your patient experience because in today's world, it's not just about dental care; it's about creating dental care enthusiasts.

1. **Before the patient comes to the office**

a. **Too many rings before the phone answered:** When patients call, it's crucial to pick up promptly. Waiting too long on the phone can be frustrating, giving the impression that their time isn't valued. Aim to answer within three rings.

b. **Having an answering machine or voice mail pick up the call:** Personal interaction matters. Avoid relying solely on machines; a human touch builds a connection. Ensure that calls are answered by a person, not a machine, whenever possible.

c. **Email not answered promptly:** In today's fast-paced world, prompt communication is key. Respond to emails swiftly, as delays may leave patients feeling ignored or unimportant.

d. **Voice Mails not returned promptly:** Similar to emails, timely responses to voicemails show respect for your patients' time. Delayed callbacks can create frustration and a sense of neglect.

e. **Put on hold for too long (no music or message on hold):** If placing a patient on hold, make the wait pleasant. Engaging music or informative messages can alleviate frustration and boredom, showing you value their time.

f. **Receptionist seems rushed, uncaring, inattentive, or incompetent:** The first impression is crucial. Ensure your front desk staff exudes warmth, attentiveness, and competence. Patients should feel welcomed, not rushed through.

g. **Questions answered, but no transitioning into closing for an appointment:** After addressing queries, smoothly transition to scheduling appointments. Proactively guide them towards taking the next step in their healthcare journey.

h. **Insurance question not answered to the patient’s liking:** Be transparent about insurance matters. Explain coverage clearly and offer assistance in navigating complexities, ensuring the patient feels supported.

i. **Price question not answered to the patient’s liking:** Discuss costs openly and empathetically. Offer potential payment plans or financial assistance options to make healthcare accessible.

j. **Too much asked of patients regarding forms, rules, policies, etc.:** Simplify processes. Minimize the paperwork burden, explaining the necessity of each requirement clearly. Streamline the patient experience.

2. **Once they arrive at the office**

a. **Not seen on time:** Punctuality is a sign of respect. Adhere to scheduled appointment times, minimizing patient wait times. This communicates professionalism and values their time.

b. **Appearance of the facility:** A clean, welcoming environment sets the tone. Ensure the facility is well-maintained, creating a positive impression from the moment patients step through the door.

c. **Inappropriate timing of rules and regulations:** Introduce rules and regulations thoughtfully, avoiding overwhelming patients upon arrival. Timing matters – ensure discussions about policies are done at appropriate moments.

d. **Unreceptive staff, not welcoming:** Friendly and approachable staff contribute to a positive experience. Train your team to be receptive, creating an inviting atmosphere.

e. **Uncomfortable visit:**

i. **Diagnostic films, photos, impressions without value given as to why:** Provide context. Explain the purpose and benefits of diagnostic procedures, ensuring patients understand the relevance to their care.

ii. **Hygienist was too rough:** Sensitivity matters. Train hygienists to be gentle and considerate, making the cleaning experience comfortable for patients.

f. **Sales pitch scripts:** Genuine conversations trump sales pitches. Ensure that staff communicates authentically, focusing on patient needs rather than pushing unnecessary services.

g. **Nickle and dimed for add-on services:** Transparency builds trust. Clearly communicate costs, avoiding surprises or upselling that may leave patients feeling taken advantage of.

h. **Treatment plan was confusing:** Simplify complex information. Break down treatment plans into understandable steps, ensuring patients are fully informed about their healthcare journey.

i. **Treatment plan overwhelm, the case was not made as to why they need treatment:** Justify the need for treatment. Clearly communicate the importance of each step, helping patients recognize the value in their care.

j. **Primary concern not addressed:** Prioritize patient concerns. Ensure that their main issues are acknowledged and addressed during the visit.

k. **Not empathetic, the scared element not adequately addressed:** Recognize and address fears. Train staff to be empathetic, especially when dealing with anxious patients. Create a supportive environment.

l. **No agreeable financial arrangements made:** Work with patients on finances. Provide flexible payment options or plans, ensuring that financial concerns don't hinder necessary care.

m. **Treatment plan coordinator does not know procedures or treatment plan rationale:** Staff knowledge is key. Ensure your team is well-versed in procedures and can explain treatment plans coherently, fostering patient confidence.

n. **No convenient appointments:** Accessibility matters. Strive to offer convenient appointment times, accommodating the diverse schedules of your patients.

In conclusion, dental practice owners, the journey from the first ring to the last goodbye holds immense significance in shaping the perception of your practice. By addressing the intricacies outlined here, you're not just ensuring patient satisfaction – you're crafting an experience that resonates, the kind patients can't help but rave about. It's more than just oral care; it's about building lasting connections, fostering trust, and transforming routine visits into memorable moments. So, as you embark on the journey of refining your patient experience, remember: each interaction is an opportunity to leave a positive imprint. Seize it, excel at it, and watch as your practice becomes synonymous with excellence in both oral healthcare and patient-centric service. Here's to creating smiles that extend beyond the dental chair – smiles that start from the very first "Hello" and linger long after the final "Goodbye." Cheers to elevating your practice to new heights!