Oral Health Group

Communication Is Key, If You Know How

September 10, 2019
by Oral Health

It should be no surprise to you that the phone in your practice is one of the most important pieces of technology to have. After all, that is how nearly ¾ of patients first contact a dental practice, plus returning patients trust this easy method to schedule appointments, ask questions and refer new patients.

How you use this vital piece of technology may not be so obvious. It’s not a way-one device. You should be using it to reach out to patients as well, whether it’s you in between appointments, or your staff making calls on your behalf. Everyone agrees good chairside manner is the number one factor in running a successful practice, but keeping an open line of communication outside of the practice falls in that bracket as well.


There are two things to consider when it comes to communication with your patient:

1. What is the patient’s preferred method?
This is a simple and effective step in understanding how not only to get ahold of your patient, but how to ensure you’re keeping open lines of communication with them. If your patient is a busy working mom, her inbox may be the only place she’s checking for important updates – an email is the best way to get her attention. Perhaps you have an older patient who is rarely home, but will only answer phone calls – ensure you have their home and cell number. And then there’s the millennial patient, who is always on their phone but won’t answer it. A text message might be the only way to get a call back or to confirm an appointment. Asking this one question the next time your patient is gives them a personalized experience, and ensures you have an open method for successful communication.

2. When does the patient hear from you?
Both you and your patient don’t want, or need, to be in constant communication, but there are more opportunities to touch base and make a personal connection with them than just at appointments. This step should be considered and catered to each individual patient, but think about extending a call (or text or email) before appointments to confirm; check-in a week after if something was noted during your time together; offer well wishes during any life events (birthdays, weddings, etc.). Adding a personal touch to your relationship is a great gesture for your patient to receive and remember the next time they need an appointment or are telling friends and family about their experience.

These thought-starters are not to suggest a simple phone call before appointments and after major treatments won’t do the trick. But if you’re looking for a way to connect with patients more often or make an effort to customize their experience with you, then perhaps considering these options will get you and your patient to a better place in your relationship.

Communication with patients of dental practice

*Between February and March 2018, RKI, a third party independent research house, conducted a 10-minute online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 398 dentists participated in the study (with 219 completing the survey to the end). Assuming a total of 20,000 dentists in Canada (and 398 total completes) the margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.86, 95% CI.

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