Some periodontal practices work diligently to improve the patient experience, but the majority tend to think of it as an afterthought. The patient experience isn’t just about the quality of care the patient receives. Rather, it’s more about their overall impression and interactions with your practice, from the moment they call to schedule an appointment until they’re back in their general dentist’s chair for a follow-up.
In an upcoming blog article, I’ll discuss the specific roles the patient plays in building your referral business with dental professionals. But for now I want to dial in on some specific things you might be doing that can negatively impact patient perceptions and what you can do to fix them:
Your staff plays a major role in how your patients feel about your practice. They’re the first ones to greet the patient to make them feel welcome and comfortable which sets the tone for their visit.
But when you make a bad hire, don’t have enough staff members to handle your patient load, or have staff members that don’t work well together, your patient is the one who ultimately suffers. It’s important that your team understands the impact of their role, even when they think no one is watching.
Patients might not give a second thought about a practice that functions like a well-oiled machine, but when you appear disorganized and incohesive, they can’t help but notice.
Your practice at least needs to look like you’ve got it all together, even when assistants are playing catchup, someone calls in sick, and the phone won’t stop ringing. Regardless of your staffing needs on a day-to-day basis or what’s happening in another room, presenting a positive image consistently helps to set the right patient expectations.
An optimal patient experience doesn’t happen by accident. Many practices are so focused on providing accurate and timely treatment that they fail to recognize the little details that comprise the complete patient experience.
I’ll say it again: it’s not just about the quality of care you provide. In fact, you might excel very well in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. But if patients have to wait too long in the waiting room, receptionists don’t return messages or understand how to answer questions based on the care you have provided, charts are misplaced, timely communications aren’t sent to the referring dentists or the myriad other little things that are involved in care, then others may be hesitant to refer you to others.
So, what can you do to improve the patient experience? Ask them!
Take feedback seriously and make time to fill in the gaps. Send out surveys to patients and referring practices after they have interacted with your practice. Even if you don’t think something is a big deal if the patient perceives something as an issue, it has already impacted their perception of your practice, and it’s your job to create the vision you want them to see.
PANDA Perio plays an integral role in helping Periodontists create a better patient experience.
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