There is always a concern about patient acceptance when integrating a new dentist into an existing practice whether there are coming in as an associate or as a new owner. Part of the anxiety on the patient’s part comes from their regular dental anxiety and part comes from discomfort with change. Putting a plan in place in advance of change for both team members and patients is essential to have a successful transition.
Here are some of my favorite tips for integrating a new dentist into an existing practice:
- Communication is the key to integration. The more transparent the communication, the better it is for the patients and the team members. Have the new dentist prepare a biography not only stating their credentials but some fun facts about themselves and along with a professional headshot and a casual picture. Provide the team this biography in advance so they can feel that they “know” the new provider. This will allow them to feel more confident when letting patients know that their dentist has changed. You can also send out this information in an eblast to patients and display a copy in the office.
- The new dentist will want to start building familiarity, trust and loyalty with patients as soon as they start working in the office. If possible, add extra time on to all dentist appointments and hygiene appointments for an initial period of adjustment. This will allow the dentist to not appear rushed and will allow them an opportunity to get to know more than just the dental diagnosis of the patients in the practice.
- Whether it is in a change of ownership or a new associate, if there is a previous provider still in the office it will go a long way with patients if you talk about “co-treating” patients in the office. Patients will feel very comfortable if there is collaboration between existing providers and new providers.
- If the new dentist is an associate in the practice, the owner will want to mentor to ensure that the practice’s philosophy of treatment is being held up with similar types of diagnosis by the new dentist. If the practice has always had a very conservative approach and the new associate is more proactive, there could be some patients who wouldn’t be happy.
- Once the new owner/associate has settled in and patients have begun complimenting their care, you will want to start asking satisfied patients to leave Google reviews that specifically name the new provider. This will help in name recognition by Google if patients search by the dentist’s name.
- A new provider will always want to connect with any specialists that they may refer to in the office. Building these professional relationships will help improve patient care with consistent communication.
- Ensure that there is proper training for the new provider in the office, that software and charting is occurring by using the software properly and not just having the provider try to figure it on their own. Providing ample training and orientation can help the new dentist understand the policies, procedures, and practice culture, which will help them start on the right foot.
Integrating a new dentist/owner with patients can take time, it requires patience on everybody’s part. The tips I have listed will help make the process much smoother. By providing an environment where communication, familiarity and openness are encouraged, patients and team members can feel more comfortable when the with the new dentist and embrace the changes to the practice.