Dental visits can bring a mixture of emotions for kids and adults. They can drive bouts of stress and anxiety for children and adults who have previous traumatic experiences in the dentist’s chair. Meanwhile, some people only think about their dentists when they’re due for a dental procedure. This is why most of them choose to forego dental checkups to avoid confronting their fears or simply avoid the dentist.
It is a sad truth that only a few patients have positive feelings about dental appointments. Whether it’s justified, many think that going to the dentist is either a costly or painful experience. In this case, dentists should find ways to enhance healthcare experiences to avoid fear, anxiety, and hesitation among patients.
In recent years, the oral health sector has developed systems and practices to improve patient expectations. Today, dental professionals value technological capabilities, innovative concepts, and a higher commitment to providing quality patient journeys. One example is the use of digital 3-D printing in dentistry to reduce the manual process in dental procedures.
Patient-focused care offers an inherent value in dental practices. People put a high priority on services and capabilities, so dentists must make efforts to enhance the patient experience in their practice. To help you understand patient expectations, we’ll discuss ways on how to optimize the patient experience at your dental practice.
Know their expectations
The primary concern of every dentist is their patients’ oral health. But it’s important to understand that there will be times when the doctor and the patient don’t share the same priorities. Knowing their concerns and goals should be your priority when creating a favorable patient experience and understanding their expectations.
When a new patient comes to you, start by discussing the difference between their personal goals for their teeth and overall dental health goals. Make sure to discuss this with them every year to keep them updated about their oral health. This will also provide options on whether they want to prioritize their smile goals or their dental health. In turn, you can fully customize your care according to their needs and expectations and anticipate additional cosmetic service without appearing too ‘salesy’.
As the patient progresses, provide a treatment plan which includes photos, radiographs, and study models. Patients are likely to be responsive to your services if they can monitor the diagnosis and visualize the issue. Show every angle of the treatment and provide options. Also, make sure to report fees and provide value and quality treatment to each patient.
Adopt new technology
Old dental equipment is a surefire way to disappoint patients. Embracing new technologies in your practice makes people feel more valued and involved with a high-quality practice. It also increases their trust and confidence by knowing their dentist keeps up with the latest technology to enhance treatment and service delivery.
One example is the online scheduling platform for healthcare practices. Dental checkups and treatment occur only a few times each year. Even if patients were able to book an appointment ahead of time, they likely forget about their schedule as time passes. Every missed appointment means lost profit, but charging extra fees for every missed appointment can disappoint patients. The worse scenario is when disgruntled patients leave negative feedback on the internet, which affects your ability to gain new patients.
A great tip is to use an online appointment system where patients can schedule or reschedule consultations online. It should be accessible via desktop or mobile devices so patients can open the platform anytime and anywhere they want. To avoid missed appointments, office staff should take time updating patients about their appointment reminders. You can also invest in a digital tool that sends automated messages.
Transform the waiting room
If there’s one thing that all patients hate about dental appointments, it would be the long waiting time. Although the waiting room is the least priority of patients when choosing a dental practice, updating the waiting room to meet their needs is important.
Besides television and a rack filled with magazines, give your patients a reason to be busy. Provide a free Wi-Fi connection, charging stations, or a mini water station. If your patients are mostly children, devote a play area filled with interactive toys and a relaxation lounge for parents.
Understanding patients’ needs and expectations is the key to providing an excellent patient experience. Improve your practice by embracing a more patient-centered focus to create a huge impact on how patients see your dental practice. At the end of the day, it’s all about providing the best care to your patients.