There’s a reason why Levin Group founder Roger Levin, DDS, recently wrote in Dental Economics, “The patient experience matters most.” For dental practices that want to attract more patients and increase revenue, patient experience is a term that largely means the same thing as customer experience, and according to the Bain & Company, companies with a winning customer experience grow faster and drive revenue 4-8% higher than competitors in their industry.
Because of this, Forbes unsurprisingly pointed out recently that “Two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience,” and, “84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.”
The 2 Side of the Dental Patient Experience
To accomplish the same, most dental practices certainly focus on the in-clinic patient experience. Yet this is only half of the equation.
The out-of-clinic experience is the second half of the experience and is equally important. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) states, “Patient experience includes several aspects of health care delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with health care providers.”
What is Dental Patient Satisfaction?
Patient satisfaction is when a patient is happy with the service they received from a dentist. This can be based on the quality of care, how they were treated by the staff, or how easy it was to make an appointment.
Patient satisfaction is important for both the dentist and the patient. A satisfied patient is more likely to return for future appointments and to recommend the practice to friends and family. This can lead to new patients and continued growth for the practice. Meanwhile, the patient benefits from receiving high-quality care from a dentist
8 Ways to Improve Dental Patient Satisfaction
Improving dental patient satisfaction means looking at both sides of the patient experience and making positive changes. Here are 8 tips to provide a total and optimal patient experience:
1. Listen to patients
One of the best ways to improve patient satisfaction is to simply listen to them. Patients want to feel heard and understood, especially when they are nervous or tense during their visit.
It’s important for patients to feel heard and understood because it makes them feel more comfortable and confident in their dental care. When dentists take the time to listen to them and respond accurately, it helps patients feel like they are in good hands. This builds trust and can lead to better overall outcomes.
2. Online Appointment Booking
Where convenience is central to a great patient experience, patients can book appointments right from your practice website or on the go from their mobile devices. Patients can access a calendar that your practice controls, allowing them to see availability, and request a time that works for their busy schedules. Working with your practice management system, online booking sends appointment requests to your office for approval, and confirmations are sent back to patients as soon as you approve their request. Overall, online appointment booking makes it easy for patients to fill your practice’s production schedule and saves time for staff by streamlining scheduling.
3. Appointment Reminders by Text
According to recent findings by DentistryIQ, 55% of patients (including dental patients) prefer text communications by healthcare providers. Additionally, the timely and immediate nature of text messaging helps reduce no-shows. ProSites’ patient communication platform includes appointment reminders by text, making it easy to reach patients and spark immediate responses from individual or group messages, which are especially appreciated by parents to confirm appointments for all their children in one go.
To save time and simplify things for your front office:
- Text messages are easily managed from a convenient dashboard
- Messages can be sent from anywhere on any device
- Messages can be reused for additional convenience
Mentioned earlier, patients value easy access to information, and much of that value comes from your practice website.
4. Use positive language
Dentists should always use positive language when interacting with patients – this will put them at ease and make them feel more comfortable. There are a few reasons why dental offices should use positive language when interacting with patients.
First, using positive language will help to put the patient at ease and make them feel more comfortable. This is important, as it can help to create a more positive experience for the patient and may even improve their overall health.
Additionally, using positive language can also help to build a strong rapport between the dentist and the patient. This can be beneficial in terms of developing trust and providing better care.
Ultimately, using positive language is just good communication practice and can lead to better outcomes for both the dentist and the patient.
5. Make Sure Your Practice Website Is Optimized for Mobile Devices
Just as patients value text message communications, they also prefer the convenience of easily accessing your practice website on the go. To see whether your website is optimized for mobile to meet patient preferences, open your practice website on your smartphone and test its functionality, including simplified navigation so patients can easily contact your practice wherever they are.
If your website lacks in patient experience, ProSites provides dental practices with mobile-optimized websites in a full range of designs to ensure the best patient experience. (View our design portfolio.)
6. Explain treatments thoroughly
Patients also appreciate it when dentists take the time to explain treatments thoroughly and answer any questions they may have. This helps them feel more comfortable and informed about what is happening in their mouths.
7. Show empathy
Many patients feel nervous or scared at their dentist appointments. Imagine their relief if their dentist does the following:
- Asks about the patient’s day
- Ask if the patient has any questions
- Takes the time to answer each question
- Reassures the patient about any concerns they have
If patients feel like their dentist genuinely cares about them, they will be more likely to show trust and have a much-improved experience.
8. Follow Up with Patients After Their Visit
Though patient experience and patient satisfaction are often used interchangeably, patient satisfaction is more about whether the expectations of a patient experience were met. To determine this, a short post-appointment patient survey provides feedback to help you refine your patient experience and strengthen patient relationships. (Read our blog for 3 key tips to create effective dental patient surveys.)
ProSites Can Help
The patient experience involves two sides: a patient’s in-clinic experience and a patient’s larger experience outside of their visit. By implementing these strategies, you are sure to see both sides of the patient experience improve. See how ProSites can help you make these changes within your practice today.