Patient Communication: Use Your Existing Patients to Grow Your Practice

Author : Dental Product Shopper
Published Date 03/13/2009
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Patient Communication: Use Your Existing Patients to Grow Your PracticeThe economic uncertainty facing the United States is going to challenge the dental profession. Most dental practices are already feeling the impact of the recession and the reduction in consumer spending. Today, as a dental business owner, you have a choice: you can be reactive and make excuses or be proactive and find the best solutions to sustain or grow your practice. Business as usual will not position your practice for success in today?s changing economy.

Most dentists we work with have the perception that their growth depends on bringing in new patients. But that perception is not always based on the facts. Ask yourself: How much does it cost you to acquire a new patient? What marketing tactics are you using in your community? How much are you spending on marketing initiatives and what is your return on investment? Chances are, you have already acquired 1000 to 2000 patients in your practice. You have spent time, effort, and money in growing your patient base. What you need to do now is cultivate those relationships.

Patient Communication: Use Your Existing Patients to Grow Your Practice

The economic uncertainty facing the United States is going to challenge the dental profession. Most dental practices are already feeling the impact of the recession and the reduction in consumer spending. Today, as a dental business owner, you have a choice: you can be reactive and make excuses or be proactive and find the best solutions to sustain or grow your practice. Business as usual will not position your practice for success in today?s changing economy.

Focus on Your Current Patients
Most dentists we work with have the perception that their growth depends on bringing in new patients. But that perception is not always based on the facts. Ask yourself: How much does it cost you to acquire a new patient? What marketing tactics are you using in your community? How much are you spending on marketing initiatives and what is your return on investment? Chances are, you have already acquired 1000 to 2000 patients in your practice. You have spent time, effort, and money in growing your patient base. What you need to do now is cultivate those relationships. The time is now to rally your team to be efficient and effectively focused on your patients of record and the systems that are vital to your practice health. Your business growth is directly related to the ability of you and your team to gain case acceptance, and it is driven by your hygiene recall systems. Case acceptance is built on trust and understanding. Your patients of record already know you, know your team, are comfortable with your practice, and they trust you. Take advantage of that familiarity to grow your practice.

Take advantage of that familiarity to grow your practice.Case Acceptance
It doesn?t matter how great your hands are, how wonderful your office looks, or how much technology you have in your office. If your patients don?t say ?yes? to treatment, you aren?t producing. Do you have a team approach to case acceptance, or does it all fall on your shoulders? Good team case acceptance systems create higher treatment acceptance. Patients need to be well educated about the benefits of treatment so they can make an informed decision. Good communication can help you create an important connection with your patients. Remember, you are the expert. Your patients are relying on your knowledge and wisdom to help them. Consistent patient education and dialogue means higher satisfaction for you, your team, and your patients.

Hygiene Recall
Do you have a patient recall system? How well does that system work? Are you recycling patients and seeing a lot of ?CCM?s? (consistently clean mouths)? Are cancellations and ?no-shows? driving you and your staff crazy? Patient recall systems can enhance the dentist-patient relationship by managing the communication needs of the practice and its patients. Patient recall systems provide many features, including sending reminder messages to patients (via e-mail, telephone, or text message), managing birthday greetings to your patients, and tracking recare. These systems should help a practice effectively manage patient recall and be easily integrated with your current practice management software. The benefit of a strong recall system is that you have the right kind of patient in the chair, minimal cancellations with a back up plan when they do happen, and your hygiene department keeps growing. Hygiene recall is the gas that fuels your bus! We recommend employing a talented, friendly, organized person to manage your recall system to ensure that you are using your capacity and operating efficiently. Your overhead is your biggest expense, and in times like these, it is imperative that you keep your team busy producing dentistry.

Delayed and Pending Treatment
The average dental practice has $1.249 million dollars in pending treatment in their charts. How much is in yours? Does your team put a treatment plan in the computer for every patient with a respective diagnosis and recommended treatment? Is your treatment team doing an effective job of following up with your patients who said ?not today? to your recommended treatment? The buying cycle for elective dentistry is over 6 months for most Americans? ?No,? does not mean never! Saying ?yes? to elective dentistry is a big decision for most people. It involves emotional, personal, and financial considerations.

3 Keys to Cultivating Current PatientsConsistent Communication: The Key to Success
Consistent communication with your patient base is a key element to the success of your business. There are technologies on the market that can help you and your team communicate more effectively with your patients. For example, Smile Reminder is a solution that many of our clients have used with great success. Essentially, this technology interfaces with your practice management system to allow you to email or text your patients with appointment reminders, promotions, satisfaction surveys, educational pieces, etc. Our clients have experienced a decrease in patient ?no shows,? an increase in patient satisfaction, and an increase in patient referrals. Smile Reminder is an inexpensive marketing solution that can help build patient loyalty and grow your business through improved communication and dialogue with your patients. When you stay in touch with your patients and take the steps to nurture the relationships your practice has already established, you will find greater case acceptance, fewer cancellations, and more completed treatment recommendations. You spent a lot of time and money bringing these patients into your practice. It?s time to get a return on that investment by making them your primary focus.

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