12 new patient process strategies

Linda Drevenstedt, RDH, MS, reminds us that the largest room in the house is the “room for improvement”! Here, she details 12 strategies you can use to wow your new patients.

By Linda Drevenstedt, RDH, MS

1. New patients are the lifeblood of your practice. New patients will decide: "Is this the practice for me? Are my needs being met? Do I like these people ... this place ... how I am treated?"

2. Your telephone skills can build or break the relationship with new patients before they ever arrive. Learn to WOW them over the telephone with enthusiasm for their call and scheduling them quickly. Use scripts or prompts and a Telephone Information Slip — ALWAYS.

3. Set up your registration system so that new patients can complete insurance information, registration, and health history online BEFORE the appointment. Many practices now require this, or they move the appointment.

4. Be prepared. Gather and verify insurance coverage online BEFORE the new patient arrives.

5. A real eye-to-eye interview with the new patient to determine "what they want" before ANY clinical procedures, including X-rays, is a necessary step to WOW the patient. Use these tips:

  • Sit facing the patient at eye level.
  • Besure the mask is off.
  • Use good eye contact.
  • Listen actively.
  • Suspend bias, judgment, and evaluation. Be open-minded.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • DO not recommend ANY treatment during the interview. Tell the patient you will look at their situation thoroughly.
  • Look for the patient’s life situation and motivators. Motivators include: appearance, cost saving, comfort, better chewing, saving time, being dentally healthy, and keeping their teeth.


6. Conduct a thorough oral exam with photos first and foremost. Hackneyed but true, "A picture IS worth a thousand words."

7.Use your technology to WOW the patient, especially electronic cavity detection, oral cancer and periodontal screening tools, digital radiographs with an electronic chart. Patients, especially the younger generation, perceives your quality through your use of technology. It is something they will talk to others about.

8. Boost treatment acceptance by 30% or more! Know your patient's DiSC© behavior style or personality profile. When you adapt your communication to meet the patient's behavior style needs, you will be more successful at treatment acceptance.

P.S. This is a great training session to have for your whole team if you have never done this.

9. Present the treatment plan the same day as the exam unless:

  • It is a large, extensive treatment plan and you need to consult with specialists.
  • You would like to have the spouse present.
  • You need to review study models and data before presenting the treatment plan.


10. Have the dentist practice the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Sweetie) limiting his or her part to no more than 10 to 15 minutes to explain the treatment and then turn the consultation over to a treatment coordinator. Dentists often overexplain and lose the patient.

11. Have budget-minded payment options such as Wells Fargo, Chase Health, or CareCredit. Also offer credit card or checking account drafts for monthly payments.

12. Have a consistent referral THANK YOU program in place. Handwritten notes are always appreciated! Send a "Care to Share Card" with the "Thank You."

Constantly work with your team on the new patient process to add WOW steps. Remember the largest room in the house is the ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT!

Author bio
Linda Drevenstedt, RDH, MS, is president of Drevenstedt Consulting, LLC. She uses her wit and wisdom to coach, consult, and create courses that assist practices in reaching their potential by developing leadership in each person. Her experience spans dental assisting, dental hygiene, practice administration, and consulting, and she is a member of numerous speaking, consulting, and management organizations. Reach her at (800) 242-7648, send her an email at Linda@drevenstedt.com, or visit www.drevenstedt.com.

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