Oral Health Group
Feature

Trends & Changes in Dentistry

December 1, 2004
by Anita Jupp


These changes offer opportunities for both patients and dental practices alike. Now patients can benefit from the advances in clinical dentistry and dental practices can benefit from the opportunity to move their business in a forward direction.

Today, there is no reason for anyone in dentistry to complain about being bored, unproductive or at a plateau. Dental practices need to constantly look at the available options. I find that dentists who are taking advanced clinical courses and utilizing technology are re-energized and enjoying dentistry more than ever before.

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The most difficult part of all of this is the fact that many offices are finding it demanding to keep up with the changes. As one dentist said, “We cannot do 2004 dentistry with 1995 business systems and maintain the same customer service we offered in the past.”

Patients’ expectations of service have also increased. The more they invest in their oral health and dentistry the higher their expectations of service. Patients are more informed about the advances in dentistry with programs like “Extreme Makeover.” More and more dentists also have external marketing programs including radio, television, websites etc. and patients realize they have choices.

Dentists can now offer patients advanced choices. These are examples of just a few:

Esthetic dentistry

HealOzone

Cerec

Software imaging

Laser dentistry

Patients need to leave your practice, well-informed, with all their questions answered and happy. The future trend will be a complete focus on offering better customer service by recognizing patients’ need and values. Patients want the best dentistry, but the way in which they are treated is equally important. People will pay for quality and service.

The 5 key principles of client relationship building

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a field unto itself. It’s studied and analyzed by corporations and retailers worldwide and for obvious reason–customers are absolutely vital to a business. Keeping customers happy, loyal and buying is a must. In dentistry, the same is true–our patients are vital to our business so good PRM (Patient Relationship Management) is a fundamental building block of any dental practice.

What do patients want?

1. Excellent dentistry

Patients want a confident, friendly, intelligent and well-educated dentist who continues to take clinical courses to stay up-to-date. They want to come out of your practice really feeling that you know your stuff! By up-to-date, I refer to the regular reading of dental publications to know and understand new methods and procedures. I’m also referring to continuing education programs, whether they relate to practice management or implants.

If you have taken advanced clinical studies at the Las Vegas Dental Institute, Millennium Aesthetic in Niagara Canada, or similar learning institutions, make sure your patients know.

2. Efficient service

Patients want efficiency. Efficient service means having set policies in place and available for patients (written), it means that your people know the policies and can anticipate patient’s needs. Efficient service also means having a good attitude about serving people and being attentive to their needs. It also means quick service. Don’t make people wait 20 minutes to book an appointment or fumble around trying to figure out a patient’s balance.

3. Knowledgeable team

Patients want the people who work in a dental practice to know what they’re doing. They want to know that, like you, your people are educated. Patients want your team to be able to answer their questions and they want your team to be intelligent and competent. Patients will ask anyone in the practice clinical questions and I’m a firm believer that your business assistants should be able to answer those sorts of questions as well. The opposite applies–your clinical team should also know your business policies.

4. Friendly, positive atmosphere

Patients want to like you and they want to like your team. Provide your patients with every opportunity to see that you and your team are friendly and positive. I don’t believe it’s necessary for a dentist or a team to be overly chatty, but relating and discussing local events is sociable and encouraged. A positive atmosphere also includes your surroundings. Take pride in your office and make sure it is tastefully decorated and always sparkling clean.

A positive atmosphere also means having empathy for your patients, it means showing that you care about their dental health.

5. Clear communication

The mainstay of patient satisfaction is clear communication. Your team must communicate with patients by answering questions, by helping them understand their treatment, by explaining (in advance) about your office and financial policies and by never making the patient feel like they’re intruding or asking silly questions.

Most important, make sure patients are aware of the cost of treatment, given an estimate and offered payment options. Making dentistry affordable is vital. You are not a bank, so look at the option of providing a dental financing program for your patients. Dental benefits will not cover many procedures and coverage is being reduced. Educate patients about the advantages of treatment and provide clear payment options.

Look ahead, never look back and create a vision for your future, your practice and what is best for your patients. Find what is right for you and don’t get left behind. Don’t try to be like everyone else as you have many choices on how you can practice dentistry.

This is an excerpt from Anita Jupp’s new book “Embracing Change in Dentistry.”

Anita Jupp is President of Anita Jupp & Company Dental Practice Management Worldwide. She is the recipient of a Fellowship Award, presented by the International Academy of Dental-Facial Esthetics for her outstanding contribution to business management in the international dental community.


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