Research report: Dispensing products

In the new dental economy, dentists must provide greater value to their patients. With out-of-pocket costs rising, due to fewer consumers having dental insurance and to reduced coverage for basic services, patients are more selective about how and where they spend their money. They're looking for services that exceed—or at least meet—their expectations.

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Introduction
In the new dental economy, dentists must provide greater value to their patients. With out-of-pocket costs rising, due to fewer consumers having dental insurance and to reduced coverage for basic services, patients are more selective about how and where they spend their money. They're looking for services that exceed - or at least meet - their expectations.

Going to the dentist has never been on anybody's list of favorite activities. Whatever dentists can do to "wow" patients should be incorporated into their customer service protocols. Dispensing products is one way that dentists can add more value to the patient experience.

According to the most recent survey from the Levin Group Data Center, an overwhelming majority of dentists (88.44%) dispense products to their patients. For the dentists who do dispense products, the most popular items include toothpaste (94.4%), manual toothbrushes (93.6%), and floss (88.8%). More than half of dentists (55.2%) said they dispense rinse, as well. As is traditional, most practices provide these items at the conclusion of the hygiene appointment as a small "thank you" to patients.

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Dispensing power brushes
If nearly every office is dispensing the same three or four products, how can a practice find a way to stand out? One opportunity for practices to consider is dispensing power brushes. Only about a third of responding practices (32.8%) are currently doing so.

What products do you dispense?
Statistics from the Levin Group Data Center, based on a survey conducted between June 2014 and November 2014

Toothpaste: 94.4%
Manual toothbrushes: 93.6%
Floss: 88.8%
Rinse: 55.2%
Power toothbrushes: 32.8%

Unlike samples of paste and manual brushes, power brushes are usually sold to patients, albeit at a reduced price compared to most retail stores. While dispensing power brushes may not be right for every practice, they can elevate the level of customer service in the eyes of patients.

From an oral health-care standpoint, power brushes are recognized as more effective in the fight against caries than manual brushes. With more and more research detailing the connection between oral health and overall health, promoting power brushes supports a dental practice's mission of providing optimal patient care.

In those practices that offer power brushes, patients can conveniently make a purchase in the office without driving to a retail store, saving time and gas. Patients appreciate that level of service, and those practices have found an effective method for increasing patient satisfaction.

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If your practice is considering dispensing power brushes, realize that it's a way not only to enhance customer service but also practice revenue. While the profit on dispensing power brushes is small compared to a typical dental procedure, it can still boost your bottom line by thousands of dollars annually. In the current economic environment, anything dentists can do to increase patient satisfaction and profitability should be seriously considered.

Oral health-care advice
Responding dentists said that 86.76% of patients ask for advice about home-care products. This high percentage demonstrates that patients value and trust the opinions of their dentists and dental hygienists, who are the oral health experts. In an age of specialized dental products, consumers have a multitude of choices when it comes to toothpaste, rinse, floss, and brushes. It is only natural that patients will seek guidance on what will work best for them. By taking time to listen to patients and answering their questions, dentists and staff members will strengthen the practice-patient relationship.

Conclusion
Dispensing products is an effective strategy for encouraging patients to think positively about the practice. Offering power brushes represents a competitive advantage for some practices to add greater value to the patient experience.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, more and more consumers are willing to "shop" dental practices. Even once-loyal patients are more prone to look for another dental practice if they have experienced less-than-stellar customer service. Dentists and their teams need to make an extra effort to "wow" patients during every visit. Practices with the highest levels of patient satisfaction excel at retaining current patients and attracting new patients through word-of-mouth referrals.


To learn how to improve your customer service and build a more productive practice, attend an upcoming seminar by Dr. Levin. Pick the date and location that best fit your schedule at www.levingroup.com/gpseminars. Save $100 on any two-day seminar when you register 30 days in advance.

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