Post-visit Care: One small step in the patient journey, one giant transformation in the patient experience

We have all heard the adage, “Customer is King”, which essentially points out the importance of a customer to a business. Although times have changed, the significance of this sentiment has not only stayed relevant but also has increasingly become something that almost every business endeavours to live by. However, today’s consumer is not confined to the four walls of a business venue. With the advent of technology, we are consumers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The traditional customer experience that started when the customer entered the brick-and-mortar store and ended with the door closing behind them is no longer relevant. Today, the terms Customer Experience and Customer Journey are synonymous with each other.

Dental practices whose consumers are Patients, have undergone the same transformation over the years. Today, Patient Experience entails all the steps in the Patient Journey. The Patient Journey begins when the patient identifies a need for dental care and continues long after the patient has completed the treatment and left the practice. The Beryl Institute defines Patient Experience as “The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organisation’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care”.


Source: ‘Getting to know your patients’ webinar, Sean Perera, Centaur Software Development


One step that significantly influences a patient’s experience but is often overlooked in the patient journey is post-visit communication. It is essential to recognise that the patient’s dental experience does not end at the completion of treatment; the post-visit care phase is equally vital to ensure successful outcomes and patient satisfaction.  Effective communication during this phase involves providing patients with information about potential discomfort, pain management, proper oral hygiene practices, and what to expect in the recovery process.

Effective communication is not a one-way street; opening a post-visit care communication channel where the patient can ask questions gives the patient a sense of a safety net and peace of mind that they are still under the care of the dental practitioner. Furthermore, patients who receive clear post-visit care instructions are more likely to adhere to the recommended practices, leading to better treatment outcomes and reduced chances of complications.

There is a myriad of research conducted by various institutions and academics alike that highlights the significant impact that post-visit communications have on patient perceptions. A survey by the Journal of Patient Experience in 2020 analysed patient perceptions of post-visit communications by dental practitioners. The findings indicated a sense of appreciation, trust, and reduced anxiety levels.

  1. Sense of appreciation – 78% of patients who received post-visit care felt more valued and cared for.
  2. Trust – 85% of patients reported a higher level of trust in their dental practitioner and increased confidence in their treatment outcomes.
  3. Reduced Anxiety -67% of patients experienced reduced post-treatment anxiety as they felt they received clear instructions on aftercare.

It is a common misconception in the dental industry that patients who have routine procedures such as Cleans and Fillings do not require post-visit communications. This could not be further from the truth. The less time the dental practitioner spends with the patient, the higher the impact post-visit care communications will have on the patient experience. Irrespective of the size or the complexity of the treatment, leaving the patient feeling cared for post-treatment can only benefit both the patient and the practice.

Post-visit care routines do not have to be complicated. If you are thinking about providing all your patients with post-visit care communication, the following strategies will help you get started.

Personalised Aftercare Follow-ups

Sending personalised follow-up SMSs and emails or making post-visit phone calls demonstrates the practice’s commitment to its patients’ well-being. This also provides an opportunity to address any concerns and answer questions directly.

Tailored Care Instructions

Tailoring post-treatment instructions to each patient and their specific procedures demonstrates individualised care by the practice.

Clarity and Conciseness

Providing the patients with clear and concise instructions that outline aftercare steps, potential discomfort, and any warning signs to watch out for can increase patients’ confidence in the treatment outcomes.

Open Communication Channel

Encouraging patients to ask questions about aftercare routines and addressing any concerns will help build a long-lasting relationship with the patient.

Interactive Platforms

Using digital platforms or patient portals that allow patients to access their post-visit care instructions online will ensure they have the information at their fingertips whenever needed.

Effective post-visit care communication is a critical aspect of the Dental Patient Journey that can significantly impact patient satisfaction, treatment outcomes, and patient-practice relationships. By offering clear instructions, addressing questions, and demonstrating genuine concern for patients’ well-being, practices can enhance their patients’ experiences and build a strong foundation of trust and confidence.

About the Author

Sean has 18 years of experience in the Australian Dental Information System industry and currently works as Head of Product and Innovation at Centaur Software. Sean holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from RMIT University and a Master of Business Administration from Swinburne University.

Sean is a passionate data analyst who loves everything data. Sean spends most of his time doting on his little daughters, Amelia and  Olivia, outside work.

Shortening the Feedback Loop for Outstanding Patient Experiences

In today’s consumer-centric world, almost every business focuses on catering to its consumers’ needs, expectations, and preferences. The same applies to the dental world. The most crucial asset of a dental practice is its patient base. Happy patients keep coming back, telling their family and friends about you and becoming ambassadors of your practice. The reverse is also true; unhappy patients do not return but go on to tell others about their perceived lousy experience at your practice. 

Patient Experience is no longer a buzzword. The average patient has little understanding of their dental service provider’s clinical excellence or lack thereof. Instead, their opinions are typically based on the overall experience from the time they decided to see a dentist to post-treatment. Almost every dental practice does its absolute best to provide quality experiences to patients. However, the million-dollar question is how patients receive and perceive it. 

Enter Patient Feedback. When I started working in the dental industry almost two decades ago, the patient feedback loop was a rather lengthy one, often extending to six months. The patient would leave the practice post-treatment and hear nothing until the six-monthly recall letters or postcards arrived in the mail. If the patient returned for a checkup, the assumption was that they were satisfied with their previous visit. This method of measuring patient satisfaction was inconsistent and prone to error. Neither did a returning patient necessarily mean their previous experience was satisfactory, nor did a non-returning patient indicate an unsatisfactory prior visit. 

Then came the era of Google Reviews. Although the feedback loop became much shorter with Google Reviews, it came with its own downsides when determining patient satisfaction levels. If a patient left a Google Review on their own accord, it meant one of two things; either they were delighted with the experience or disappointed. While positive reviews were a good morale booster, negative reviews had far more significant, often devastating, impacts on the business. In most cases, by the time the negative review was in the public domain, it was too late to rectify any issues the patient may have experienced during their visit. 

Although Google Reviews is still the go-to option for screening a new business, patient feedback loops today have become much shorter and more consistent thanks to feedback scoring systems such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), whereby a single question “On a scale of 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend our practice to family and friends?” can provide a reliable and quantitative indication of the patient’s satisfaction and loyalty. A follow-up question such as “What was the reason for your score?” could provide valuable qualitative feedback to dental practices.  

Regardless of size, location or patient base, every practice can benefit from a sound feedback system and shorter feedback loops. Some of these benefits include: 

Continuous Improvement – Patient feedback can help practices identify areas of improvement across the business, whether it is about streamlining online booking systems, enhancing communications or even the general look and feel of the Waiting Room. 

Patient Satisfaction – As consumers, most of our frustrations stem from not being heard. Providing a platform to voice their thoughts and concerns is often perceived as satisfactory by patients regardless of the subsequent actions that the practice takes based on the feedback.  

Identify Issues Early – By actively seeking and encouraging patient feedback, dental practices can quickly identify and address any issues or concerns before they escalate. Timely resolution of problems can prevent negative online reviews. 

Tailored Patient Care– By gaining insights into individual patients’ needs and preferences, the practice team can provide patients with a more streamlined and patient-centric experience, enhancing ongoing patient satisfaction. 

Enhanced Reputation – Positive patient feedback serves as testimonials that can be used in marketing materials and websites if they are within the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) guidelines. Such testimonials can significantly enhance the practice’s online reputation and attract new patients. 

Next time you hear the words Patient Feedback or Net Promoter Score, remember these concepts are no longer reserved for the top end of town. Any dental practice can enhance its patient experience by shortening the feedback loop. A satisfied patient base means guaranteed growth for your practice. 

About the Author

Sean has 18 years of experience in the Australian Dental Information System industry and currently works as Head of Product and Innovation at Centaur Software. Sean holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from RMIT University and a Master of Business Administration from Swinburne University.

Sean is a passionate data analyst who loves everything data. Sean spends most of his time doting on his little daughter Amelia outside work.