The importance of extending the patient journey by providing care beyond the chair

Does your dental practice focus on creating a great patient experience? It’s very likely you answered “yes” to that question — this is just a common-sense way to build great relationships with your valued patients.

Now for a harder question: When do you work on creating that experience? Many practices struggle to find the time to reach out to patients between visits. If you only interact with your patients when they are at your practice or when it’s time to schedule an appointment, you may be missing an opportunity to create strong, enduring connections based on extended post-treatment care.

Great patient care should go beyond the time that patients spend at your practice. This may involve post-treatment follow-ups and active efforts to collect and act on feedback. Dental practices that stay active in contacting their patients stand a better chance of not only building patient satisfaction and loyalty but also better positioning themselves to earn glowing Google reviews, providing social proof to prospective new patients.

Post-treatment: A critical time to reach out

What happens when a patient goes home after a treatment? Many dental practices disengage at this point, with the default assumption being that everything went well. Perhaps they reach out to request an online review, but generally, they don’t make meaningful contact again until it’s time to schedule a follow-up.

The logic behind the no-follow-up approach is that if the patient needs assistance, they will contact the practice. There is an extra step, however, that could turn this downtime into a valuable part of the patient relationship. Namely, it’s simple for practices to make patients feel looked after and cared for by being proactive and following up the day after a procedure.

Sending out a questionnaire is an effective way to determine how the patient is feeling. This allows the practice care team to provide informed and helpful responses in case the patient is experiencing discomfort or has more questions. If the patient has no concerns, that’s a good outcome, too. In that case, the practice can respond by requesting a Google review — the satisfied patient may give some very positive feedback.

Practices that collect patients’ opinions and feelings can act based on important measures such as Net Promoter Score, which is the ratio of customers who would recommend a business. Knowing how happy your patients are is the key to fine-tuning the patient experience.

Strong bonds yield positive reviews

When prospective patients are deciding on a new dentist, their likely first step is to go online and read the reviews from your current patients. The rapport and level of care you show your patients will determine the tone of those reviews.

Checking in with patients after their visits, and showing that you truly care about their well-being, allows you to build relationships based on trust. This is the crux of “care beyond the chair.” If people only hear from their dentists when they’re in the practice or scheduling an appointment, will they care enough about the dental practice to write a good review?

It’s a simple but important process — collect feedback to see what your patients most need from you, provide that level of service and then, finally, ask for a review. You’re getting off to a great start by simply asking for their thoughts and feelings. Following through on that information is the perfect way to create a loyal audience.

Following up and staying in contact with patients is a way to turn quiet periods in the patient relationship into moments that build trust and loyalty. With a modern technology platform to store the data and automate initial outreach, you can seamlessly make this new approach part of your practice’s patient experience.

Visit the PatientCare site to learn more.