3 things every team member needs to know about the new patient experience

June 21, 2011
Are you creating "raving fans" for your dental practice? If not, Dr. Tanya Brown shares ways to enhance the new patient experience that every team member needs to know.

Dr. Tanya Brown

Are you creating “raving fans”? Do your new patients rave about their five-star experience in your practice? If so, congratulations and keep up the good work. If not, we want to share ways to enhance your new patient experience. The word “experience” is used to describe the introduction of a patient to your practice, starting with the initial phone call through the initial appointment.

There are so many important components to the experience, and every team member should know the following tips about the new patient experience to ensure an exceptional experience for EVERY new patient. First, every team member should know that it is “all about the patient,” and you must do whatever it takes to make sure they feel welcome and comfortable in every aspect of their visit. This may include offering a cup of coffee, a magazine while waiting, or giving them a tour of the office.

Secondly, team members should know that it is imperative to make at least three connections with any new patient during an initial visit. These valuable connections will start to cement the long-term successful relationship of the patient with your practice, as well as determine the number of referrals they send to your practice. These connections start with the initial phone call by establishing how the new patient heard about your office and complimenting the referral source. Here's an example:

Team member:“We’re so glad that you called, Mrs. New Patient. We like to thank people who refer patients to our practice, so would you mind if I ask how you heard about our office?”
New Patient:“My neighbor, Mrs. Jones, told me about your practice.”
Team member:“Oh, we love Mrs. Jones. She’s a great patient. We look forward to meeting you as well.”

Connections can be made by asking about the patient’s family, job, and hobbies, and by establishing common ground. Ideally, these connections should be shared with the doctor before completing the exam, which will enhance the patient’s perception that everyone on your dental team cares about them and communicates effectively.

The third important tip to enhancing the new patient experience is that the first visit is an information gathering session for the doctor and team. The vital information gathered at this visit will lay the foundation for all future treatment for this patient. For this reason, it is critical that the information is accurate and complete. Some of this important information includes medical and dental history, radiographs, photographs, and initial charting. Gathering information without judgment and while making connections with the patient takes practice. Some offices use “interview” questions such as, “Mrs. New Patient, if you could change your smile, how would that impact your life?”

Modern dentistry has so many solutions to offer, and new patients may not be aware of these advancements. It is our responsibility as doctors and team members to share how modern dentistry can enhance quality of life. The new patient experience encompasses many components, and the better we connect with our new patients, the more successful everyone will be.

Author bio
Dr. Tanya Brown, a leader in dentistry and dental management, founded The Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and the Professional Management Consultants Association. Dr. Brown is a senior consultant and speaker for Miles Global, a leading dental practice management firm. She has authored many published articles and lectured across the country. She will help reignite your passion for dentistry, your practice, and your life.