Your dental practice front desk staff and operations are key components to ensuring excellence in dental patient communication. Whether over the phone or interacting with patients in the office or exam rooms—first impressions matter!
Your front desk team is the face of your dental practice, and one of the first touchpoints patients will experience.
It’s important for the front desk team to be patient-focused and genuinely care about the well-being of past, present, or prospective patients. Projecting a friendly and professional image is essential for creating a positive patient experience from the first interaction.
Aside from welcoming patients, your front desk staff must also juggle a multitude of other crucial tasks. Appointments need to be booked, new patients registered, personal details recorded, insurance benefits verified, pre-authorizations and referrals checked, and dentists’ schedules managed.
The front desk is where relationships are built and the long-term growth of your dental practice assured. So let’s take a look at some front desk practices when handling patient communication over the phone or in-person for your dental practice.
Streamline in-person patient communication: Go paperless for a better patient intake experience
Clipboards and loose paper copies are a thing of the past. Today’s paperless dental office is revolutionizing and enhancing the patient intake experience. Why bother people with the added anxiety of filling out forms just before a consult? And when the documents are completed in a hurry, they may be illegible, making the data capturing process even more cumbersome and more time-consuming.
Electronic dental forms can be filled out at the patient’s leisure prior to their visit which is mutually convenient for the dental staff, saving time and stress all around. Patients don’t have to worry about collecting their previous dental records, IDs, or insurance cards to the dental office as everything can be uploaded digitally and submitted to the dental practice ahead of time.
Using the latest technology to integrate record systems makes it simpler to create a patient chart, quicker to add information, and to access it. It’s the best way of keeping information up to date, automating routine tasks, and ensuring your dental practice front desk runs efficiently. In the long term, it’s also more cost-effective, and environmentally more sustainable.
Digital tools can enhance almost any facet of dental practice management and dental patient communication. Cloud-based software lets you access patient records and other documents remotely, and it’s easy to upload scans and X-rays to patient charts.
Electronic databases are straightforward to back up and a lot safer than physical filing cabinets, which is a critical consideration for sensitive financial records with a credit card, insurance, and billing information. It’s easier to store and manage digital records than paperwork, and your practice will look a lot neater and more organized as well. In addition, there’s less chance of documents being misplaced or misfiled, and as many fields and forms are populated automatically, data errors are less likely.
Reduce patient waiting time through efficient scheduling
Even the friendliest dental receptionist could find it tricky dealing with a patient who’s been waiting longer than they should. Improving your patient communication and scheduling system will help reduce patient wait time and minimize conflicts from agitated patients.
Delay-free dental visits help smooth a patients’ overall experience. For a start, try keeping your treatment schedules realistic by working out precisely how long each procedure takes. Online scheduling tools can also be a great help in streamlining your schedule and keeping everyone happy.
No matter how well you plan, there will be times when patients may be waiting in the reception area longer than expected. Open communication is vital in these situations. Let patients know immediately if things are running a bit late, as well as roughly how long the extended wait could be. Keep them informed with regular status updates and never risk them feeling they’ve been forgotten or ignored.
Build better patient communication: Improve patient relationships through improved phone communication
Competent communication skills and a professional yet friendly manner are the hallmarks of a great dental receptionist, particularly when it comes to telephone interactions with patients. Creating a good first impression with new patients while strengthening relationships with existing patients is a must.
There are a few best practices to keep in mind if you want to be pleasant, efficient, as well as encourage patient engagement and retention. Use your name and the name of the practice when answering the phone, ask how you can help, and express genuine interest and concern. Smiling while you’re talking allows a caller to hear the friendly tone in your voice, whereas repeating their name back to them helps to reinforce an interpersonal connection.
These best practices are even more important when dealing with new patients. Ask for the prospective patient’s name and their reason for contacting the dental practice. Helpful tools such as a call sheet for new patients could help you gather the relevant information needed and lay the groundwork for meeting their needs.
It could even be an existing patient phoning about a specific dental concern. If you see they’re also due a checkup, why not suggest they come in for both at the same time? Having a state-of-the-art phone system that includes features such as instant on-screen access to relevant data when a patient calls, allows you to provide immediate individualized and targeted feedback.
Prospective patients often phone to inquire about prices for services and products. Responding to questions regarding treatment costs for a particular procedure isn’t always straightforward. This might be a good time to offer a complimentary, obligation-free consultation to determine their exact needs. In a similar vein, a potential patient might be concerned about how to pay for treatment, so you’ll want to have predetermined payment options available.
Increase dental patient retention with continuous communication
Regular and effective dental patient communication is one of the cornerstones of building a better dental patient-practice relationship. But improving retention and generating growth requires a bit more than simply reaching out once or twice a year with an email or text reminder.
It’s also not just about repeating the same message more often.
A recent study on the merits of relationship marketing in US dental practices, specifically the 7/12 patient touchpoint strategy, examined the effect of contacting patients seven times a year through online and printed materials focusing on oral health knowledge. The results were overwhelmingly positive and included an average increase of nearly 87% inactive patients and 38% in first visits.
A post-appointment follow-up is another valuable opportunity to show patients you care and foster a closer relationship, especially in the case of new dental patients. And in the event a patient is experiencing discomfort after treatment, is a great opportunity to address problems at the core and deflect potential dissatisfied patient reviews online.
In addition, consider dental patient preferences. Do they prefer patient communication via text, phone, or email? This will help target the appropriate channels and not overcommunicate with patients. An automatic patient communication system can also help to reach more patients and in more creative ways.
Optimize front desk dental patient communications with RevenueWell
A dental patient communication platform makes it so much easier for front desk staff and reception to streamline their operations and provide a world-class patient experience over the phone as well as in the dental office.
RevenueWell strives to make life easier for busy dental practices.
They provide powerful, easy-to-use marketing and communication tools needed to fill your schedule, reduce no-shows, and automate time-consuming tasks—allowing the dental front desk staff to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
Visit pattersondental.com to see how RevenueWell’s all-in-one patient communication and marketing platform can help you to maximize your patient value and streamline your processes so you can focus on what matters most – your patients’ oral health.
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This blog post first appeared on the RevenueWell blog.