According to a discussion on LinkedIn last week, there was a recent stat indicating that 90% of the patients who don’t accept treatment simply didn’t understand the need. And there are often financial concerns, so as the dental practitioner, you need a way to bump your treatment plan ahead of that vacation! Combine misunderstanding or lack of education with dental treatment reluctance and it’s not a great equation. Toss in the fact that while dentists feel that the public holds them in high regard, less than 10% of patients agree, and even lower, only 7% believe that dentists provide good value. Consistent patient education plays such an important role in building patient trust, strengthening loyalty, and communicating the value of your practice and your services. Just this week, Patient News client Dr. Mansouri, who practices in Atlanta, GA said that since they started with Patient News many more patients have been added to their practice, and since these patients are also more aware of what their practice offers, more patients are accepting treatment because they are informed of their benefits. Do you feel that your staff does a great job of educating patients in the office, but follow-up is next to none? Or do you feel that your staff could use some training on key practice attributes and benefits of various services? At Patient News we have always focused on staff training related to customer service. It’s not selling; it’s education. This is critical to improving new-patient bookings and improved case acceptance. On the phone it’s voice, tone, enthusiasm … and scripting. We need to ensure that everyone on our team knows and understands the key value propositions of the business. They need to be able to help patients and prospects understand what happens if they don’t follow your recommendations – this will also strengthen patient confidence in your expert advice. Last week we were pleased and excited to deliver the inaugural edition of a patient newsletter to our local Volunteer Dental Outreach clinic. Their patients have long neglected their teeth, they likely suffer from severe dental phobia, and they don’t have the financial means to move forward. The mission of the VDO is to get the patient’s mouth and teeth to a condition where they can go back to regular dental visits. The educational format of the patient newsletter will allow them to systematically reinforce the dental hygiene regime that these folks need to follow in order to remain healthy. Patient education is the right thing to do – but how robust is your approach? Are you consistent inside AND outside of your practice? When patients decide not to move forward, need time to think about it, or delay scheduling another appointment, then you need to be proactive with your tactics. Patient education should not be a passive activity that happens when patients are in your practice. Last year a consultant who was working for one of our previous clients told me that since they had discontinued their patient newsletter, they had 180 treatment plans rejected. At a cosmetic practice – this adds up to a lot of missed revenue. Improving your patient education program doesn’t have to be complicated. Find a partner with expertise that can make the task easy, and then commit to your plan. Time and consistency win the war on improved case acceptance. It’s commonly known that people need to see a message multiple times before they will take action, especially if that action is not going to bring immediate gratification. Dental treatment can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and costly, so as dental educators, it’s our job to move that treatment up in priority. And keep your eye on the prize – if you do not have a consistent outreach approach, then a competitor could slip in with the right marketing message at just the right time and you’ll lose the case, and maybe the patient. So how about regular follow-up or reactivation calls? They would be great – if you have the time and resources – and your team doesn’t loathe doing the calls! You could add an incentive to the calling process and number of reactivations they make. We’ve found the stress-free way to handle this is to set up a communication plan that’s easy and simple to execute – completed by a marketing professional experienced in these types of ongoing campaigns. For information about patient retention, reactivations, and referrals, please call Patient News. Your call will be answered live between 8:30am & 6:00pm EST Monday to Friday. All messages will be returned within one business day.
February 15, 2012