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Jenny Allen is a certified Patterson Technology Advisor and has been an Eaglesoft trainer for more than eight years. She conducts onsite training and has been lecturing to dental groups and speaking at state dental shows for the past several years.
In many dental offices, nudging profits upward doesn’t require a huge new investment in equipment or a major operations overhaul. There are many small steps that you and your team can take to encourage patient retention, treatment acceptance and ultimately, profitability. Think about steps like these to increase your bottom line:
Spend quality time with patients: This may seem counterintuitive if you’re looking to maximize efficiency, but experienced dentists know that providing a personal touch is a great tool for patient retention and trust. If you are able to spend a few minutes at each appointment simply talking with patients (and not with your hands in their mouth), you can learn a lot about their dental habits and wishes, and also simply build a rapport. Many times, personal relationships are what keep patients from jumping ship to another office. Remember, retaining patients is an easier road than gaining new ones.
Use third-party patient education tools: It’s not that patients don’t trust the recommendations that come from you and your team members, but there’s something very powerful about having third-party validation of those recommendations. After you’ve made a diagnosis and recommended a treatment plan, showing the patient a short video about the condition and the treatment procedure can be an excellent way to increase case acceptance. Patients get the message from an outside source and recognize that it echoes what you’ve already told them. If you combine this technique with showing the patient their own intra-oral photos or x-rays that illustrate the problem, they can mentally “co-diagnose” and take real ownership of the issue.
Make your software work harder: Check to see what tools your practice management software offers to help you maximize profits. For instance, some software systems can automatically pull reports to find lists of patients who have been presented with treatment plans, but haven’t scheduled them. A list like this gives your front office staff a clear path for follow-up. By staying in touch with these patients, you also emphasize the importance of the recommended treatment.
Ask your patients to spread the word: In today’s health care landscape, new patients want to know that your practice has been vetted and approved by others. So it’s important to encourage your existing patients to share their opinions about the practice online. There are several ways to do this. You can ask patients yourself during that aforementioned quality time. You might put a note about it on your mailed statements and promotional materials. But, since you want to reach patients when they’re online, an e-blast is a great way to accomplish this. If your front office isn’t regularly connecting with patients online and soliciting reviews, look into online practice marketing and revenue-building services that can help with this. User-friendly services are available to help maximize your office’s online presence, and the good ones don’t require a tech expert to run.
Increasing profits doesn’t have to mean changing your whole practice. These steps can give you a simple yet valuable jumping-off point.
Note: This article is sponsored by Patterson Dental as part of the Dental Practice Management Partner Voice Program, which provides a way for leading dental manufacturers to share quality content with our audience. Patterson Dental offers a wide range of dental products including Eaglesoft Practice Management Software, CAESY Patient Education Systems and the RevenueWell marketing communications suite, which are backed by the renowned support and customer service team at the Patterson Technology Center. With multiple support options and more than 125 years experience in the dental industry, Patterson has the resources and expertise to help customers and practices reach their greatest potential.