As a dentist, you know that patient retention is key to having a successful dental practice. Surely, attracting new patients, purchasing another practice, or forming an association can serve to grow your dental practice. It all comes down to the patient experience, however, and a satisfied patient is one who will return — and refer other patients. In fact, patient retention is a key component of dental reputation management, which was the topic of a previous blog post (here). This article is a brief discussion of what causes poor patient satisfaction levels.
- Patients don’t feel heard
Patients must be given an opportunity to discuss their experience during their dental visit and any concerns must be followed by actionable results. If you don’t acknowledge online reviews or fail to use that feedback to improve the patient experience, they will likely feel neglected and not return. While sharing opinions is intended to help dentists better serve patients, ignoring their concerns is disrespectful and will likely drive down patient retention rates.
- Dentists fail to communicate effectively
Dentists who fail to spend a sufficient length of time with their patients and communicate effectively before and after appointments tend to lose patients. By sending automated confirmations and reminders prior to appointments via phone or text and distributing patient satisfaction surveys after visits, dentists can improve patient retention rates. Ultimately, keeping patients informed and requesting feedback from them about their visits will result in a more satisfying patient experience.
- Dentists fail to show good bedside manner
While accurate diagnoses and effective treatments are fundamental to patient satisfaction, dentists must go further by treating their patients with compassion and respect. Dentists who display poor bedside manner by responding to questions in a condescending manner or by failing to keep their patients informed about their health will likely lose patients.
- Patients are intimidated by technology
Today, the vast majority of dentists rely on technology such as practice management software and electronic health records to streamline the patient experience and improve the quality of care. Some systems are not user-friendly, however, and failing to implement new technology effectively can reduce the level of patient satisfaction. Dental practices should utilize systems that are easy for patients to navigate, while dentists and their staff must also become proficient in the use of such technologies.
In the final analysis, dentists who wish to improve retention rates must learn how to deliver a better patient experience. By listening to and communicating with patients effectively, showing good bedside manner and adopting user-friendly technologies, dentists can better serve their patients.