Think like a Patient, Act like a Dentist: A Guide to Improving the Patient Experience

patients in waiting room

There are many ways to invest in growing your dental practice. Marketing is one investment that certainly pays off, but nothing beats old fashioned word-of-mouth. Dentists and their teams must create an office environment where patients feel welcome and comfortable.

Imagine the impact it would have on your dental practice if just two patients recommended a friend or family member to your practice every day. That’s 40 new patients every month! The key to experiencing that kind of growth is improving the patient experience.  

Our advice to you is to start thinking like a patient. Here are five simple ways to improve the patient experience in your dental practice:

1. Update your waiting room and operatories

For dentists who have been practicing for more than five years, your office may be a little outdated. Patients feel much more at ease in a place that looks beautiful and feels cozy and comfortable. An immediate way to do that is to update your décor and color scheme.

While the waiting room is a great place to start, don’t neglect the operatories! We recommend using blue and green hues paired with white or grey to create a clean, calm environment for patients. Try to stay away from reds that can heighten anxiety.

Plants, fountains, and art can be used to spruce up any area of the office. You’ll notice a significant difference in your patients and team members throughout the day.

2. Provide accurate wait times

Few things are more frustrating for patients than waiting, especially when the wait time has been doubled or tripled. It’s nearly impossible to be correct all the time, but patients should have a window of time they expect to be sitting in the waiting room.

Providing accurate wait times starts with scheduling. Makes sure your front desk assistant understands how long certain procedures take so she can schedule accordingly. If for some reason, the schedule is thrown off during the day, be sure to call patients to reschedule appointments for later on in the day or for another day.

It’s important that we respect our patient’s time. This goes a long way in creating patient relationships, so they come back for future appointments.

3. Offer comfort items

It’s no secret that people of all ages struggle with dental fear or anxiety. Aside from offering types of sedation dentistry, comfort items like blankets, headphones, TVs, neck pillows, and aromatherapy can be extremely effective. Providing these items will make visiting the dentist feel more like going to the spa!

4. Provide free Wi-Fi

Connecting to Wi-Fi is one of the first things many people do when they walk into a business of any kind. For the most part, waiting rooms today are filled with people scrolling through Facebook or responding to emails on their phones. Offering free Wi-Fi is beneficial to the patient, but also to you because it makes wait times seem shorter than they actually are. Plus, patients won’t be frustrated about not being able to mark things off their to-do list while they wait.

5. Create a relationship

If you only choose one thing from this list, choose this one. Building a relationship with each patient is extremely important. When patients feel known and cared for, they are much more likely to return.

Ask them about their families, hobbies, and careers, and really listen so you can remember the details for next time. Encourage your dental team to do the same! A patient-focused mentality ensures that the patient is happy and that your dental practice is successful.

Learn More

Our team at Dental Practice Enhancement is prepared to help your dental practices succeed. Our team of virtual assistants and trainers can help you create a productive, patient-oriented environment. Contact us today at (833) 373-3678 ext. 1.

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