Oral Health Group

A True Patient Experience – Part II


April 17, 2014
by Kahaliah Richards

Part II of III

In my previous writings about the patient experience, I talked about how to “wow” a patient from their perspective, not just the dental offices. We all know that most people don’t want to be getting dental work done, but we forget because we are so wrapped up in what we are doing just to get the next patient back. Don’t forget that some patients really need our help to be more comfortable and put their minds at ease. Other patients may be watching your every glove change and where you put the instruments, while some are just ready to lay back and watch TV.

So the next step in the Patient Experience is after they leave the waiting room. Let’s keep a few things in mind at this point.

–        Unless the patient coordinator has given us a heads up on the mental state of the patient, the stroll down the hallway is a good opportunity to find out how your patient is feeling. Are they feeling anxious? Did they just get out of horrible traffic? In this case, be prepared to help calm the nerves a little and let them relax a little before throwing on the blood pressure cuff.

–        Don’t talk about dentistry just yet; establish a relationship if you haven’t already. If you know the patient, get caught up with their life. Remember, it’s all about them unless they ask you and having good listening skills really pays off when it comes time to asking for a referral.

–        Walk, don’t run. Yup, you are probably in a hurry. Is always feels like that, right? I’ve seen patients struggling to keep up with the assistant as they run down the hallway. Plus it will make their blood pressure creep up! Slow down for the elderly and patients with kids in tow.

Hopefully we’ve made a great impression in the waiting room but the clinical “impression” has to be just as good. Right now, there are a lot of shows on about dirty hotel rooms, the spread of infections in hospitals, and other factors that may compromise their opinion about clinical areas of medical and dental offices. Obviously there is a good chance our chairs don’t have bed bugs, but don’t overlook the details while cleaning.

–        As often as possible, lay back in your dental chairs, just as I suggested you sit in your waiting room and look, smell, and feel. Can you see the underside of surfaces and are they clean? If the chair is older is it still comfortable?

–        I’ve often seen newly renovated waiting rooms attached to an outdated clinical area. You have just as much of a reason to include updates to your clinical side as you do up front. If you can’t afford to replace a patient chair, look into having it reupholstered instead and replace the smaller doctor or assistant chairs. Even a fresh coat of paint and new artwork does wonders.

–        Keep the advertising at a minimum in the operatory. Unless posters are well framed, leave them off of the cabinets. If you’d like patients to know about the newest flossing aid or toothbrush, tell them or show them instead of just putting up a poster. Your local reps would be happy to supply you with a beautiful display unit!

Here are a couple little details that will make a big difference for your patients. These are very inexpensive to do and most offices don’t even think about it:

– What is the temperature in the clinical area? During the summer are you cranking the AC because the staff is burning up under all that infection control protocol? Have blankets ready for your patient that has strolled in out of the heat and is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Launder after every patient because you can get blankets with your custom logo for very little money. I’ve seen this work wonders and patient LOVE it.

–        Please don’t send your patient to the checkout desk covered in impression material (especially with beards being so popular these days). Have a small mirror either on the wall or hand mirrors available to the patient along with a nice, warm, white washcloth. A first-class feel for a lot less than the cost of a plane ticket.

–        Keep small bottles of water on hand. The stuff we put in the patients mouths tastes terrible and we all know it. Give them the option to rinse with more than just water and send them off with a little treat.

And the best way to make sure everything goes well in the back? HUDDLE EVERY DAY. Don’t get stuck with the patient that hasn’t been to the office in three years and “just wants a cleaning” at the last minute. Catch snags before they happen by looking at your load for the day. Look in the charts, see what the last visit was and anticipate problems. Find emergency time so the patient coordinators know how to help you. Patients first, co-workers second, self third, and your patients will take note.

Stay tuned for Part III!

Bridget Fay is a consultant with Odyssey Management, Inc. Her multiple years of experience in the dental field (from manager to assistant) help her to coach her clients to success. She works with offices to improve their insurance and accounts receivable systems. Bridget recently became a board member for Centura College in Richmond, VA and is a speaker to the dental students on how to obtain positions in the dental field. She can be reached at Bridget@OdysseyMgmt.com

SOURCED: OneMind Health – http://onemindhealth.com/a-true-patient-experience-part-ii/


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