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.

Off the dental chair. What’s next? 

The last few decades have seen us becoming increasingly busy with our day-to-day lives. The recent technological advancements have only contributed to making people’s lives more hectic, not less. One could argue that today’s generation is the busiest in the history of humankind. We constantly find ourselves glued to our smart devices, ignoring what’s happening around us. “Stop and smell the roses” has become a thing of the past. There is one big casualty in today’s rat race: inter-personal relationships. 

The dental industry is no exception; dental practices nowadays seldom find the time or resources to check in with their patients and monitor their welfare, especially post-treatment. If you ask a dental practice when the next communication occurs after dental treatment, most of them would answer “the next appointment reminder” or “the next preventative care reminder”. In the past, you would often find dental receptionists calling their patients the next day to address any questions or concerns.  

Is it enough to communicate with patients only when there is a revenue opportunity? The answer is a resounding “No”. Dental practices must communicate with their patients regularly. Sending your patients monthly/quarterly newsletters is a great way to keep in touch, but it lacks the personal touch. Now you ask, how can a busy practice maintain this personal touch with each and every one of their patients? Is it worth my time following up with every patient? When should I contact my patients to let them know that our care extends beyond the dental chair? 

The answers to all these questions lie in understanding today’s technological and social climate. It is true that everyone, practices and patients alike, is busy. Most people today find phone calls to invade their privacy and are less likely to respond well. However, most of us today carry our smartphones wherever we go and are much more responsive to less invasive communication methods such as text messages and emails. At the practice end, the conception of “Automation “has become the biggest time saver. We automate our appointment reminders, and patients happily confirm their appointments via SMS without either party having to pick up a phone.  

Combining our patients’ preference for less invasive communication and practices’ preference for automation presents a golden opportunity to resurrect the now dead concept of “personal touch”. This process is called after care. With after care, the practice can automate the post-treatment care check-ins and only be alerted about the patients that need attention and manual intervention. It is usually a pleasant feeling when the dental practice contacts the patient the day after treatment to see how they are recovering and if they had any concerns about the treatment or recovery. What if the automation can personalise the care messages based on the treatment? The patient would have only to answer questions relating to their treatment; as a result, the patient is more likely to respond and let the practice know their progress.  

Today’s practices seeking to improve their online reputation and patient retention make two cardinal mistakes. They ask the patient for a review without checking on the patient’s welfare and only contact the patient when there is a revenue opportunity for the practice. After care turns this approach on its head and contacts the patient with no apparent revenue opportunity and only asks for a review after thoroughly ensuring that the patient is cared for. One must ask themselves which category you would rather belong to? An opportunistic dental marketer or a dental professional whose care extends beyond the chair and reaps the same benefits as the other? The choice is yours. 

About the Author 

Sean Perera has 18 years of experience in the Australian Dental Information System industry and currently works as the Product Manager for Centaur’s flagship products, Dental4Windows and Dental4Web. 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.