Fact: Your job as an oral health provider is to ensure that your patients receive only the best treatment.
No one can deny the importance of providing quality service when it comes to growing a business in the health sector, or any other field for that matter.
But here’s the thing: your relationship with your patients extends beyond the minutes they are spending in your chair getting their teeth cleaned or fixed. You also need to engage with them outside your business hours, help them become actively involved with the health of their teeth, encourage them to come to routine appointments, and convince them to accept your recommendations.
Your dental practice doesn’t exist in a void. It’s a living organism that evolves and grows. And, just like any other living thing, it feeds on interactions with those around it.
With that in mind, here are a few patient engagement strategies you need to start implementing.
Make the First Step
The best time and place to engage your patients and start building a relationship with them is during their appointments. This offers an excellent chance to help them relax and make them feel more comfortable, especially if they are afraid of pain or coming in for the first time.
Approach them with a calm and friendly attitude. Your goal is to create a doctor-patient bond, and you can’t do that if you only talk shop all the time. Engage in small conversations and ask them about the activities of their day or their plans for the weekend. Be careful not to sound pushy or intrusive, however.
Maintain the Bond Between Appointments
People don’t stop being your patients once they’re out of your office, so it’s important to keep in contact with them even between appointments. In that way, your patients will be pleased you are taking an interest in their well-being, and the bond will grow stronger.
Keep in mind that people appreciate good customer service. Provide your patients with extra help by anticipating their needs and offering timely solutions. A phone call or an email can go a long way, so don’t hesitate to contact patients between visits if it’s to their benefit.
Where Do I Start?
Improving patient engagement shouldn’t be a difficult task. To make things easier, here are three things you can start with right away:
- Services: Do your patients know what kind of services and procedures your practice offers? If not, it might be a good idea to present them. Since they’re already familiar with part of what you do, they might also be interested in other procedures if you recommend them.
- Availability: Let your patients know that if they need to, they shouldn’t hesitate to give you a call. Give them a phone number or email address they can contact whenever they are in need. It’s important to make your patients aware that they can rely on your practice should something come up.
- Fear: 15% of Americans avoid going to a dentist because they fear painful procedures. Even those who make it past the threshold might have a hard time coping. Talk to them before performing any treatment and explain what you are about to do. Understanding the procedure might help ease their minds. Be compassionate and friendly, and they can get through appointments easily.
Kill Two Birds with One Stone
Right about now you are probably thinking about how much time following all of these tips could require – time that you don’t have. You are running a business, providing patient care, and thinking of ways to grow and bring in new people, and the day still has only 24 hours.
But the thing is, these tips aren’t necessarily independent of each other, so you don’t have to pencil in time for each strategy. Simply use the time of each appointment to talk to your patients. And, since you’re not going to be able to see all patients whenever they’re in the office, make sure your team engages with them too.
It bears repeating that the success of your dental practice depends on your ability to engage with your patients and build lasting relationships. Only about 50% of adults report seeing a dentist once every six months, and that’s not a good number for anyone. Whether as a result of fear or ignorance, a lot of people are neglecting their dental health, and, when they do seek treatment, they rarely come back for routine checks.
By taking the time to engage with your patients they will become more likely to follow your recommendations and improve their dental care. The tips presented above are meant to help you create a tighter bond with your patients. This all depends on making them feel a sense of closeness to both you and your practice.