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One of the parameters that will determine the success of your dental practice is your patient retention rate. To have a high patient retention rate, regular patients won’t be enough—you’ll need loyal, raving fans of your practice. And, to build this loyalty, you'll need to develop a strong and long-lasting relationship with them.
The question is, how do you build these relationships? Even before that, what is the foundation of a great patient-provider relationship? Keep reading to find answers to these questions.
The relationship with your patient is an ever-evolving one. It is a business relationship, but with a personal touch. Although it is hard to define which qualities create a great relationship, we can all agree that the following qualities matter.
Any patient you treat hands over the keys to their health in your hands. Such responsibility has to be accompanied with a lot of trust. It is obvious that your patients do trust you—otherwise they wouldn’t be at your practice in the first place, but do they trust you completely? If you’re not sure about that answer, then you need to work on improving the trust your patients have on you.
Dental treatments can last a single appointment, or be spread out to multiple appointments over months. You as the doctor are obviously aware of the specifics of the treatment, but the patient is often not.
To increase treatment follow-through, you need to have excellent communication skills and discuss the treatment details with your patient. Empathizing with their pain, their problems, and working with them instead of for them will ensure that your patients stick with you for a long time.
Usually, there is more than one way to treat your patient. You as the doctor try to make the best treatment decision while keeping your patient’s best interests in mind. But, you don’t know all the details in your patient’s life. Their pain tolerance, financial constraints, their job, and many other things can affect what they perceive as the best treatment plan.
Therefore, it is in your and your patient’s best interests that you involve them in the decision making process. By discussing the treatment variables upfront, and informing them of the treatment specifics, you can help your patient develop a stronger bond with your practice.
Now that you understand some of the most important aspects that form the basis of a great patient-provider relationship, it is time to cultivate them. Here are some helpful tips that drastically improve your relationships with your patients.
Your patients don't spend the majority of their time with you, rather, they spend it with your staff—your front desk, your hygienist, insurance team, etc. The interaction of your staff with your patients contributes a lot to the overall patient experience in your practice.
Therefore, it is essential that your staff is not only good at their jobs but also have great soft skills. Simple gestures like welcoming patients with a warm smile, greeting them by their name, and even having a small light-hearted conversation can help in developing a great relationship with your patients in the long run.
If a patient walked in through your door, you’d do everything to make sure they have a great experience. But, what about the patients who haven’t visited your practice yet?
It’s the information age, and people can find you and your practice through hundreds of channels. Your website, social media, and discovery apps are some of the platforms where people can discover you and your practice.
Make sure that you’re active, and respond to messages that you receive on messaging platforms and social media—your patients are more active there. Having a website is now mandatory, but it is also critical that your website aligns with your brand, has a responsive design so it works on all devices, and has key features like an appointment booking system, and more. Refer to these tips for a better dental website design.
Your patients can have questions before, during, and after their treatment. Not all patients will ask questions freely and it is your responsibility to make the patient comfortable enough so that they clear their doubts.
A big part of this process is being available through all communication mediums in a timely manner. You can’t expect them to walk into your practice for every small question, can you? Make sure you design and manage all your communication platforms for patient questions and dedicate some time to answering them as soon as possible.
The questions your patients have might be simple, but the act of answering them in a timely manner can have a huge impact on how your patients perceive you and your practice. It makes you look professional, compassionate, and most importantly, that you care about your patients' well-being.
Being available for all patients all the time is good, but as the number of patients grows, it can be overwhelming to stay in touch with your patients, and it can start affecting your actual treatment time.
To avoid burning out and ignoring your patients, use technology to your advantage. Invest in an excellent patient-management system (PMS), like tab32, that offers comprehensive management features like appointment booking and reminders, payment collection, single-click filing, patient medical history recording, business dashboards, and effective KPI tracking. Using a PMS that offers these features will not only help you in communicating with your patients better but also ease your day to day responsibilities of operating your practice.
Out of all the parameters that determine your practice’s success, building and maintaining patient relationships is not only one of the most difficult, but also the most ignored aspects. It is no secret that satisfied patients become loyal patients and are more likely to refer to friends and family.
By understanding the critical ingredients of a thriving patient-provider relationship, and making the most of technology, and the tips we’ve outlined above, you can not only build a large base of loyal patients but also help your practice climb the ladder of success.