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The Importance of Follow-up for Dental Clinics

Published on : 13/11/2023

In the fast-paced world of dental practice ownership, operators often suffer from tunnel vision when it comes to providing top-notch oral care. However, this tunnel vision brings a downside: it means that a crucial aspect of a successful dental practice is often overlooked. And that is patient follow-up. Dental clinics are now realising the importance of staying connected with their patients beyond the chair, and in this article, we will explore why patient follow-up is integral to practices and how it can enhance both patient satisfaction and retention.  

What is patient follow-up? 

Simply put, patient follow-up involves the practice of staying in touch with your patients after their dental appointments. When conducting follow-ups with your patients, 2 overarching themes must be kept in mind. Firstly, your method of communication. The 3 most common forms of communication that dental clinics employ when it comes to follow-up are email, phone calls and text, and it is vital to ensure you are using the appropriate form of communication which works with your community and demographic.  

Secondly, you must remember that throughout this communication, our goal is not just about reminding patients about their next appointment or enticing a Google review, but instead, ensuring their well-being, addressing any concerns, and providing ongoing support. 

What is the reality in the market place and why are dental clinics not following up? 

The reality is that most dental clinics do not follow up. The reason behind not following up can vary from practice to practice, but below are the 4 most common reasons; 

1.  Lack of time and resources 

Life in a fast-paced dental clinic can get busy. And in most cases, dental clinics are operating with a shortage of staff. With time and resources focused towards providing dental care, most clinics aren’t able to dedicate resources towards patient follow-up activities. 

2.  Cost 

Many clinics are under the misguided impression that implementing a patient follow-up system comes with excessive costs. So smaller clinics with tighter budgets may not prioritise this investment. 

3.   Lack of Awareness 

Many dental practices remain unaware of the benefits of a robust patient follow-up system for their patient retention and patient satisfaction. 

4.  The conventional belief that only large treatments require follow-up. 

Most practitioners believe that large and more involved treatments such as oral surgery and full mouth rehabs are the only appointments for which follow-up is required. However, following this path leads to missing the value of following up for routine treatment.  

Why is it important to follow up with your patients? 

Enhanced patient satisfaction 

Following up with your patients shows that you care about their well-being and overall dental experience. This connection provides an opportunity for you to address any concerns the patient may have post-appointment and ensure that they are satisfied with the care they received. 

 Timely resolution of Concerns 

Most patients have questions or concerns following an appointment. And unfortunately, most of these questions go unanswered. Patient follow-up provides an avenue for addressing these concerns quickly, which can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.  

 Valuable Feedback 

Integrated surveys and feedback forms play a major role in the value of patient follow-up. This information allows dental clinics to gather valuable insights into the patient experience and identify areas for improvement.  

 Stronger patient-dentist relationships  

A simple post-appointment message can go a long way in establishing trust and rapport with your patient. It is this trust which can help to enhance your clinic’s reputation within the community and raise your clinic’s retention rate. 

In conclusion, patient follow-up is a crucial aspect of any successful dental clinic. By investing in an efficient patient follow-up system, dental clinics can build strong patient-provider relationships, offer personalised care, and reap the rewards of a positive reputation and increased loyalty. In today’s competitive healthcare landscape, patient follow-up is not just an option; it’s a necessity for dental clinics looking to thrive and provide the best possible care to their patients. 

About the Author

Dr Dish is a multi-practice owner and general dentist practicing out of Melbourne, Victoria. With only 4 years in the dental field, Dr Dish has been able to rapidly grow and scale his two clinics. Dr Dish is also a leading communications specialist. He coaches dental clinics and clinicians to enhance their communication skills to form meaningful relationships with their patients and how they can be a more profitable practice.

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