10 things patients want from a dental practice

Face it. Most people don't look forward to a trip to the dentist. Here are a few little things that can make everyone's experience more pleasant, especially from a patient's perspective.

Mar 17th, 2015
Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 03 10

I think about this often. What do I want from Dr. Dreamy? I want a great looking professional who makes a lot of money. Oops! This isn’t my match.com summary. Sorry folks. I got a little confused about who I was writing for. OK, time to get serious. Focus…what do patients want from a dental practice? That’s easy for me because I've been a dental patient many times.

Here are 10 things that I believe dental patients will appreciate more than you realize. My guess is some of you are already doing some of these things as we speak. If so, keep up the good work!

10. Have a good Keurig machine – Do you know how annoying it is to know that every dental practice has a Keurig, but some don’t put it out for patients to use? That would be a nice little treat to have while waiting or as a patient leaves your office.

9.Keep good magazines in your waiting area – How many times have I had to wait in an office that had boring reading material? Face it; your patients want to be distracted. Going to the dentist isn’t most people’s favorite thing to do. But catching up on Kim Kardashian and company can make it bearable.

8.Be a dentist who runs on time – Why should I have to take time off from my workday to sit in the office while the dentist is delayed? This drives me nuts! If you’re running late, you have my phone numbers. Call me! Why should I have to take my vacation time to sit in your office?

7.Staff the front office with friendly staff – How ridiculous, you think. You think everyone at the front desk has customer service down pat. Guess again. Observe how the first staff members your patients come in contact with treat your patients. This can and does set the tone for the entire visit.

6.Have patience with your staff –Now, I know some of you are really good with mind reading, but your assistants do not always know exactly what the good doctor wants. Please talk in an appropriate tone with your employees. It is very stressful for them as well as patients when you snap at your staff.

5.Develop a warm bedside manner – (This time I’m sure I’m not writing to match.com!) Be friendly. What patients really want to come and see you? They may want to if they have pain, but other than that, patients have better things to do with their time than be treated unkindly by their dentist.

4.Explain what will happen before you do it –Tell your patients what to expect and when. Being a patient is hard. The unknown and fear of pain can be real downers.

3.Do not focus on making money off patients ­–I’m sure my editor will edit this one out, but there’s an elephant in the room. Some of my dental specialists look at me and say cha-ching! I pay cash and I’m a delightful patient. But please, recommend only treatment that I need, not what you can make money off of.

2.Make follow-up calls –What’s happened to follow-up calls?If a patient has had a particularly awful experience in your office, call them that night. (Talk about getting brownie points.) Customer service is just that – customer service!

And the No. 1 thing to always remember is …

1.Be confident –Your patients want to relax and know that you know what you’re doing. But don’t be cocky. If something is beyond your skill set or you think another specialist is more capable of providing a patient with what they need, refer that patient to the other dentist.


I realize this list might annoy some of you, and I say that’s good! If you’re annoyed, you might do something about it. You will look at this list and go through each point to see what you’re doing well and hopefully think about what you can do better. We all need to take a look at best practices on a regular basis. If you want to voice your opinion about this article, email me at diana@discussdirectives.com.

ALSO BY LISA NEWBURGER:
We all make mistakes! Own up to yours and fix them for the benefit of your dental practice
Lives changed forever for the better
How to get rid of the “slacker” in your dental practice

Lisa Newburger, LISW-S, aka Diana Directive, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics for dental professionals with humor and aplomb. Her entertaining workshops are available for conferences and association meetings. Writing for DIQ since 2010, her “in-your-face” style of presentation and writing will make you smile, or perhaps shock you into taking action. Check out her website atdiscussdirectives.com.

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