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TIPS FOR YOUR PRACTICE

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Drsumitra's picture
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Joined: 6 Oct 2011

 PATIENT APPRECIATION DAY

It’s external marketing that gets the phone to ring and new patients are certainly the lifeblood of the practice, but it’s the patients of record who refer to you and build your practice with their own personal dental care. Internal marketing is what keeps patients talking favorably about the practice. Once per month have a patient appreciation day where each patient seen that day receives a $5 to $10 useful gift that makes the person know you appreciate them. Your marketing committee (one team member from clinical assistants/one from hygiene/one from admin along with the practice manager) selects and wraps or bags gifts in advance. These can be bought locally, ordered online, or from a novelty catalog. On the last day of each month, pull a number one to 31 from a bowl. Keep pulling a number until you have a workday for the following month and that becomes the patient appreciation day. Patients love feeling special and will hope all their next appointments fall on that monthly lucky day. Cost: $10 in a solo practice with 30 patients each day $300 per month. Return on investment: priceless in good will and continued referrals.

TOOTHBRUSH EXCHANGE DAY

Ask your local bank, drugstore or mall if you can publicize a toothbrush exchange day in 8 weeks. For the person who brings in the ugliest toothbrush, he or she will win a prize (could be a gift certificate toward dentistry in your practice or a gift card from the store that lets you use their sidewalk or lobby). Every person who brings an old toothbrush receives a gift bag with a new toothbrush, floss, lip balm, and a card from your practice with this note: “If you don’t have a personal dentist, we invite you to join our family of fine patients.”

LOCAL BUSINESS VISITS

Make a list of 10 companies within a 5-mile radius of your practice. Personally (doctors) deliver a lovely basket of food goodies and a thank you card to the HR department of that company. Introduce yourself and thank the personnel manager or whomever you talk with for answering questions from your insurance coordinator over the past several years (months). Let that person know you see several (many) patients from their company. Compliment them for having a dental benefit plan. Offer to have you (your insurance coordinator) come and explain in 10 to 15 minutes the clinical dialogue of their plan at their next employee meeting. HR departments receive little recognition in their daily work. Wonder who they will think of dentist-wise when a new employee asks if they know a great family dentist?

ELIMINATE NEW PATIENT NO-SHOWS

Each day that new patients are scheduled the scheduling coordinator should give the dentist the patient’s name, telephone number, date and time of their appointment. Each day when the dentist has a 5-minute break, they should phone the new patient, introduce themselves and let the new patient know how much they are looking forward to seeing them on _______(date) at ___(time). No other health care provider extends an introduction and welcome before patients come to their first appointments. Smart dentists who do this report fabulous results in relationship building and pleasantly surprised patients who are impressed with the dentist’s gesture of kindness. One doctor reported, “You know this is working well when a new patient who hasn’t come in has already referred a patient the day before their own visit

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drsushant's picture
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Joined: 14 May 2011
TIPS FOR YOUR PRACTICE

 Chairside communication

REINFORCE THE TREATMENT PLAN

Clinical team members can be very instrumental in setting the stage for case acceptance with effective chairside communication. After patients hear the clinical diagnoses and the dentist’s recommended treatment, they often look to the assistant or hygienist for verification. If the staff says: “Mrs. Parker, you are making a wise decision not to postpone your treatment as this is what can happen if you don’t proceed with treatment soon” or “Many of our patients were hesitant about veneers wondering if it was wise to cover their natural teeth. After their smile was enhanced, their only regret is that they had not done this treatment long ago.” And, “Dr. Brown is a fine dentist. I know because she is also my personal dentist,” alleviates fear and hesitation for the dentistry patients deserve. Dentists can’t toot their own horn and compliment their own skills, but having an enthused team member makes all the difference in case acceptance!

ADDED VALUE VERBIAGE

Instead of saying at the end of a clinical procedure, “If you have a problem, give us a call,” say instead: “We don’t expect any problems but if you have any questions feel free to give us a call.” Instead of quoting a fee at the desk for two fillings say: “Dr. Brown restored 6 surfaces of those 2 teeth.” (Now the patient thinks 6, not 2.) Go on to say: “You may experience a slight discomfort when you eat something cold. Some of our patients experience this but most never do. If it happens, it could last up to three weeks.”

DENTIST TO ASSISTANT COMMUNICATION

Some dentists and assistants waste valuable chairside time talking about topics that patients don’t need to hear. This time could have been used to “talk dentistry.” There is such a small window of time that patients are the captive audience. Mentioning CE courses, talking about new technology and how it can make dentistry easier and better are sample conversations. Even though the dentist and assistant have talked about these topics many times the same week, for the patient in the chair hearing about veneers, cosmetic whitening, laser dentistry or implants for the first time, that’s incredibly educational. This not only makes the patient more informed but they go out of the office and teach others what they learned. This is a huge practice builder and it doesn’t cost a dime.


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 Post your case presentations on www.dentistrytoday.info

 Post your case presentations on www.dentistrytoday.info

drmithila's picture
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TIPS FOR YOUR PRACTICE

 With appropriate training of your dental team members, it’s possible to make all recall examinations go smoothly, efficiently and stress-free. The key to successfully achieving these goals is to educate the dental hygienist on providing clear communication about the patient once the dentist enters the operatory. The dentist should not have to flip through a chart or “click” through a computer file to obtain information about the patient or the services provided during the appointment. Additionally, the dental hygienist should enable the dentist to view the most current radiographs immediately upon entering the operatory, either on a view box or a computer monitor. Below is a guide for the sequence of the examination process:

  • Address family and personal issues first. The hygienist can begin the communication by addressing personal matters concerning the patient to the dentist. For example, “Dr. Jones, Mary’s daughter, Lucy, just had her first child…”
  • Address the patient’s health status and blood pressure. Since the patient’s medical health is an important priority, we verbally acknowledge any changes that have occurred with the patient’s medical status since the previous visit. We also acknowledge when there have been no changes to the health history. Additionally, the patient’s blood pressure reading is communicated at this time.
  • Inform the dentist about the patient’s radiographs. If radiographs were taken during the appointment, the hygienist should point out, “As you requested, we’ve updated Mary’s full-mouth x-ray today.”
  • All x-rays are taken under the direction of the dentist, so if the policy of the office is to update the panorex every three years, then the dentist did request it. The dentist should always review new radiographs while the patient is observing.
  • Special Tip: Inform the doctor, out loud, when x-rays are not necessary. I also recommend that when the patient is not due for new x-rays, the hygienist loudly proclaims, “Mary was caught up on her x-rays, so none were taken today…” Too many times, from the patient’s perspective, it appears that dentists are constantly taking x-rays. By hearing this announcement at least once per year, patients should no longer have this perception.
  • Announce all clinical procedures performed on the patient during the appointment. The dental hygienist should announce every service that he or she performed or discussed with the patient during the appointment. The dentist should not have to consult the computer or the chart to discover this information.
  • Point out all dental problems noted during the cleaning. A dental hygienist who spends 40 to 60 minutes, or more, with a patient, cleaning and polishing every surface of every tooth, will sometimes take notice of conditions that a dentist may “gloss over” during the examination. As the dentist prepares to examine the patient, the hygienist should verbally acknowledge all conditions he or she noted during the clinical time with the patient.
  • Special Tip: Rate the patient’s oral hygiene competency level. The dentist and the dental hygienist should designate a numerical system to categorize the patient’s oral hygiene level. For instance, a score of “10” could designate a patient that presents at the beginning of the appointment with an immaculately clean mouth. Conversely, a score of “2” may designate a patient with heavy calculus, and remnants from yesterday’s Philly cheese steak sandwich present on the lower molars.
  • Years ago, before instituting this system in my own office, I remember an instance when I examined a teenager whose mouth looked quite healthy. Not realizing that my hygienist had just politely reprimanded this patient about her poor oral hygiene, I proceeded to praise her for doing a great job taking care of her teeth. After all, by the time I arrived into the operatory, this patient’s teeth were beautifully clean, and there was no evidence of chronic perio problems. Now, if I hear that the patient’s “O.H. Index” is “4,” before I begin my exam, I know that regardless of what her mouth looks like now, my job is to reinforce my dental hygienist by trying to motivate this patient to do a better job with her homecare.
  • Announce your clinical findings during the examination. I’ve found that there’s no better way to get a patient’s undivided attention than by talking about him or her to someone else. As you examine the patient’s mouth, call out your findings to the dental hygienist, aware that your patient will be intently listening to your every word. “The back portion of the lower right first molar has a large crack that I’m afraid will work its way into the nerve in a very short time. Make a note for us to put top priority on fixing this tooth right away, in order to prevent a serious nerve problem.”
  • Along with communicating problem areas discovered during the examination, I recommend that the dentist call out all normal findings as well. For instance, “The lips, cheeks, and frenum are normal. The palate and oral pharynx are fine. Occlusion, TMJ, gingival, tongue…” You get the idea. Your patient must know that you’re performing an oral cancer screening, TMJ screening, periodontal examination, and all the other valuable services you provide during this “periodic evaluation.”
  • Document the results of your examination. A wonderful tool to educate a patient about the value and thoroughness of their recall examination is to use a document to record the findings of your examination. I designed an “Oral Diagnosis Form” to be completed at each recall visit. The form is a tool to record all the systems that are being examined and all conditions that warrant close follow-up or further treatment (please call or e-mail Dr. Goldstein to receive a copy of this form). Most of the time, there will be check marks on the majority of the items on the form, as most areas will appear normal. Detailed comments may be provided for the items that require additional explanation—for example, a note about the patient’s need to floss more frequently, or the importance of having tooth number 12 crowned before if fractures. The Oral Diagnosis Form can now become a part of the patient’s record until the next recall visit. As a bonus, the form can be photocopied and given to the patient to serve as a motivation tool. Finally, the form can also serve as a reference for any staff member to consult when communicating with a patient about a future recall appointment.
  • Special Tip: Decide on the time required and services to be provided at the patient’s next recall visit. I have a pet peeve about the way some offices schedule their recall appointments. Many offices schedule a full 50 or 60 minutes for every recall patient visit. Think about how inefficient that is. Too many times I’ve seen a patient with a full-dentition and significant calculus given the same amount of time for his appointment as a patient with an upper denture and six lower anterior teeth retaining a lower partial denture.
  • The key to efficiently scheduling the next recall visit is having the dentist and dental hygienist decide together, during the current recall visit, what will be performed at the next appointment and how long the next visit should take. A patient requiring a full-mouth series and a fluoride treatment during today’s visit will certainly not require the same time allotment the next time, when only a prophy and examination will be performed

  • Michael D. Goldstein, DDS, FAGD
     
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Nick Peters's picture
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Joined: 16 Oct 2013
TIPS FOR YOUR PRACTICE

 Telephone tips here. See link...

http://youtu.be/1sbcKc6ulMQ

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