It has been said many times, that any dentist’s success is reliant on patient trust. In these times of economic instability, patients need to feel trust and loyalty to find value in their treatment plans. As we know, patients only know if a dentist is a good practitioner if their mouths are pain free and comfortable. Your patients will say that you are a great Dentist if their experience is enhanced by their trust and loyalty to you. Engaging your patients is an art that you need to work at, it’s more than just being pleasant when they are in your chair.
The best time to start engaging your patients and start building relationships with them is during their appointments. This offers an excellent chance to help them relax and make them feel more comfortable, especially if they are anxious about dentists or nervous because it’s their first visit.
Approach them always, with a calm, friendly manner, don’t appear rushed or hassled. Your goal is to create a doctor-patient bond and you can’t do that if all you talk about is dentistry. People love talking about themselves, engage them in conversations about their work, school, the weather, their family and finally, you can start asking about vacations again. Appear interested without feeling intrusive. These social points can be entered in their charting notes so you can bring up the same subject again at their next visit.
To encourage the doctor-patient bond you will always want to have conversations with your patients with the patient sitting up, slide your chair back so that your knees are roughly aligned with their knees and they can look at you in the eyes when you speak with them. Talking with your patients while they are laying down or have to crane their necks to see you will not allow the patient to relax into the conversation.
The next step is to always do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. If you or your team members have told a patient that you will get back to them about an appointment with a specialist, an item being ordered in, finding out information or any type of follow up, ensure that it happens, and someone takes responsibility for it. If the actual answer can’t happen in the timeline provided at least contact the patient to let them know that you haven’t forgotten, and you are working on it.
Let you patients know that if they need to, they can connect with you at any time, especially if they have had a difficult procedure completed. Either provide a phone number or a dedicated email address that you have access to if a patient needs you. Ensure that this is monitored either by yourself or a team member. Being available (even virtually) when a patient really needs to ask a question will help with patient engagement.
Going beyond your own comfort zones to make a patient feel at ease is sometimes difficult especially, if it isn’t in your nature. Even if it means leaving your own introverted zone to put patients at ease, it will be worth it for building patient trust and loyalty.
By taking the time to engage with your patients they will become more likely to follow your recommendations and improve their dental care. Creating a tighter bond with each and every patient is important to the success of your practice. Your end goal is for you and your team to work together to make your patients feel a sense of closeness to both you and the practice.