Frequently Asked Questions
Dental healthcare professionals across the nation are asking questions in an effort to improve their practices. We’ve included answers to a few questions here to help you get started.
ANSWER: Eliminate the five primary patient satisfaction glitches:
ANSWER: Listen and ask questions. When we hear an objection our immediate reaction is often to respond with either a defense or a solution. The most effective communication tool to accurately address a patient’s concerns is to actively listen to their problem, and then before offering a solution, ask additional questions to verify that the true objection is being addressed. 85% of patients suffer from various degrees of post traumatic stress disorder when going to the dentist. Many times the initial objection is a smoke screen designed to get out of going to the dentist.
ANSWER: Often patients “fall through the cracks” when it comes to scheduling follow-up appointments. Effective patient hand-offs are the key to moving your patients forward. When passing a patient from one staff member to another, there should be a verbal exchange to pass on patient information. When handing off a patient the passing team member should make a value-added statement to the patient about the receiving team member, what has occurred today, any concerns the patient may have, and good-bye. Far too often doctors and staff members forget to say good-bye to the patient and the patient is left wondering if that person will be coming back.
ANSWER: Patient case acceptance is a function of two practice systems - the new patient experience and financial arrangements. Case acceptance is determined by patients saying yes both clinically and administratively. First they must understand and accept the value of the treatment recommendation. Then they must feel they can afford the treatment. The best way to increase patient case acceptance is to review your new patient experience, focusing on increasing the value your patients receive, and ensure you have clearly defined financial guidelines so patients can afford the treatment you’ve recommended.
ANSWER: Ironically, the most effective way to increase your new patient flow is "free". Asking your patients of record for referrals is your most powerful marketing tool. Too often practices don’t take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing. Your patients give you compliments all the time. These compliments are your cue to ask for referrals. Remember, people love sharing good experiences. Asking your patients for referrals gives them a reason to share their experiences with others.
ANSWER: The key to reducing hygiene cancellations is to increase patient appointment awareness. Many offices focus on increasing patients’ understanding of their oral health as a way to motivate them to keep their hygiene appointments. This is important, but should not be the only tool used. Patients will value their appointments if they understand that the appointment will give them what they want from their oral health. For example, a patient tells you she wants a beautiful smile. When conducting the hygiene debrief remind her that she has said she wants a beautiful white smile and that is exactly why you are recommending she return in no more than six months. Understanding that the six month recall cycle is a way to maintain a beautiful smile is the information the patient needs to value the next hygiene appointment.
ANSWER: In this economy many practitioners are unclear how much they should allocate for salary increases. Before any salary increase is given you must analyze three factors: current economic trends, practice profitability and staff member performance.
ANSWER: The best way to increase staff performance is to set clear performance expectations and to follow up on the accomplishment of those expectations. Minimally, employees should have the opportunity to participate in a performance review. Effective performance reviews incorporate opportunities for the employee to analyze his/her strengths and weaknesses and contribute to the development of a performance action plan. The action plan ensures that the employee clearly understands what need to be achieved, and it gives the doctor a tool to measure success.
Writing a good classified ad can be quite a challenge.
Each day I review the want ads and count the number
of ads for dental positions. It just seems to keep growing.
As I'm sure you're
aware, the key is to distinguish your practice from all the others.
The first step is to have a clear mission statement for
your practice and a clear job description for the position. You use both of
these in your ad to attract potential hires. For example: Dental Hygienist:
Come be a part of our team - mission statement Dr. (name) and staff offer
state-of-the-art general dentistry with patient satisfaction as their top
priority. We seek an enthusiastic,
caring - job description RDH, M-Th, to
provide soft tissue management and continuing periodontal care. Employees
are rewarded with excellent salaries and benefits.
Sharing your mission and job description sets you apart from many other offices and allows candidates to pre-screen your office.