How to run a practice your patients will (really, truly) love
You would be wrong if you claimed your practice is truly all about the patient. Here's why.
If I could poll everyone reading this column about whether your offices are truly patient-centric, I'd bet 97% of you would say "yes." You'd think, "Definitely! We're all about the patient."
Here's the hard truth: You would be wrong. I'm not saying that you would be lying. You really do care about the patient. That's why you got into this business. But here's the real problem: You don't know what you don't know. In other words, you don't understand what it means to be fully patient-centric. If I can get you to understand this key factor that most dental practices are missing, and you implement it in your practice, I can guarantee that the payoff will be enormous. Your patients will be happier, they'll spend more money, and your patient referrals will drastically increase . . . almost instantly.
Most offices are based around the comfort of the people who run the practice-plain and simple. The only way your practice will become patient-centric is if you shift your focus to what is most convenient for the patient, even if that requires you to sacrifice what is convenient for you.
Your operating hours are one area to consider. Is your office currently open Monday through Thursday or Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? I've got news for you: These are the most inconvenient hours for your patients. No one wants to take time off of work to go to the dentist, and parents definitely don't want their kids to miss school for appointments. The only reason that you are open during these hours is because it's most convenient for you. If you wanted to convert to a patient-centric model, you would find a way to stay open on Saturday for a few hours and extend your office hours and phone coverage every day.
Let's take a look at another area. How recently have you objectively assessed your office's patient experience? Trick question! You can't do that because you are too attached to your practice and what goes on inside to be objective.
What you need is an outsider with a critical eye. You need someone who isn't living and breathing the practice to come in and pick everything apart. What do new patients see, smell, hear, touch, and taste when they enter your office? What is it like when they're sitting in your reception area? How about when they're sitting on the toilet? That might make you chuckle, but you would not believe how many people never think to check these things out.
Next, take a look at your quality of service. Most offices blow it at the first point of entry. A patient walks into the office and immediately sees a counter, a glass dividing wall, and someone on the phone. A patient-centric practice does not have phones at reception. If the receptionist is behind a counter with a phone, the patient who just walked in won't get his or her attention as soon as the phone rings. This model doesn't work because it's used for the convenience of the dentist and the team, not the convenience and pleasure of the patient.
Changing these things will be the difference between an "OK" patient experience and a "WOW!-I-have-to-tell-everyone-I-know-about-this" experience. And that difference directly relates to your number of new patients and patient referrals-both of which determine your practice's growth.
If you are interested in learning how to attract, care for, and retain your patients with Ritz-Carlton-style patient-centric service, visit www.SchedulingInstitute.com/DE to request a free CD. It takes less than two minutes to complete the Quickstart Form, and it's 100% free-with no risk and no purchase necessary.
Jay Geier is the founder of the Scheduling Institute and creator of the world-renowned five-star telephone training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. He is finally revealing his secret for record-setting results, 600+ new patients in one week. Visit www.schedulinginstitute.com/DE to discover how he did it.