Many people don’t look forward to their dental appointments. However, there are ways you can work to make the experience of your patients a more pleasant experience. Improving the patient experience at your practice can improve patient relationships, along with retaining and gaining new patients.
Here Are 5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience:
- Scheduling and Appointment Reminders
Improving the patient experience begins before the patient even walks in your clinic. Most people don’t think about coming to the dentist when they’re not having any dental health issues, but preventative dentistry is a key part in maintaining optimal oral health. Even the healthiest patients need to be coming to the dentist. To begin improving the experience of your patients, begin improving the way you schedule your appointments and send out reminders.
Use your social media to remind your patients to make appointments and be sure that you have a contact page on your website where patients can easily make an appointment with you. If you have your patients schedule their next appointment while they’re in your office, be sure you send out reminders either via email, text message, or phone call. It’s best to do this about a week out from the next appointment, that way your patients can reschedule if something has come up.
- The Waiting Area
The next step in improving your patient experience involves looking at your lobby. The waiting area of your practice can greatly affect the patient experience. When your patients walk in, they should feel welcomed into a comfortable environment. In today’s day and age, it’s important to provide WiFi for your patients so they can use their cell phones, laptops, or tablets to work or stay entertained while they’re waiting to be called back to their appointment. If you’re a kid-friendly dentist, consider having a TV in your lobby where children can watch kid-friendly movies while they’re waiting, too.
Another way to improve your waiting area is by providing your guests with complimentary refreshments to enjoy if they arrive early to their appointment. The key is to make your clinic’s waiting area clean, comfortable, and welcoming to anyone who walks in.
- The Exam Rooms
The exam rooms your patients have their appointments in is equally as important as the waiting area. Take a look at your rooms and see what you can do to improve them. Try adding TVs to each room so your patients can watch TV shows or movies while they’re receiving their treatment. This can also be a great way to help your patients who have dental anxiety feel more calm in your chair. A TV can serve as a distraction and help your patient focus on something else other than their appointment. For your younger patients, offer cartoons and kid-friendly movies that will help keep them still in the chair.
- Promote Conversation
One of the top reasons patients feel anxiety surrounding their appointments is because they’re not sure what to expect. When your patient comes in for a consultation or exam and needs further treatment, be sure that you promote conversation and fully address any concerns. Encourage your patients to ask questions and always answer in a caring, friendly manner. Let them know that they can call your office for any questions that might come up about their future appointments to help them feel at ease the next time they head to your clinic.
- Ask for Reviews
The best way to learn how to improve the patient experience is to talk to your patients themselves. Ask them to leave feedback and reviews at the end of their appointment so they can tell you what they enjoyed about their experience and also how you can improve. You can expect that not all feedback will be positive and everyone will have a different experience when they walk in the door. However, what you do with that feedback will make all the difference in improving the experience of your patients moving forward.
Beginning to improve the patient experience won’t happen completely overnight. However, rest assured knowing that taking even small steps each month to do something to improve how your patients feel when they think about your office or walk in the door will greatly help you retain and gain patients as time goes on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dentist Dr. Kevin Varley received his Bachelor’s Degree from Colorado State University and his Doctor of Dentistry degree from the University of Colorado School of Dentistry. Establishing Stonebrook Family Dental in Aurora, Colorado, Dr. Varley has always been committed to using state-of-the-art methods for patient care and prides himself on providing access to care when patients need it the most.