Dentists leading the way in patient satisfaction, Angie's List reports

October 19, 2013

Unlike many physicians who seem unsettled by the new, consumer-driven healthcare landscape, dental care providers have embraced the concept. Any medical professional still grappling with how to adapt should take notes from the dental side of the healthcare street.

I was recently on a panel with a renowned physician from the Cleveland Clinic who said she doesn’t like even hearing the word “consumer” as it relates to her practice. “Patients in my hospital don’t want my service. They don’t want to be there,” she said, meaning her services weren’t an option, but a necessity.

She was right about her particular field, but the fact is that among the billions of health care transactions made each year, most aren’t dire. The majority are screenings, well-checks, dental care, and the occasional sick visit. As consumers settle into the drivers’ seats of a world where they’re paying more upfront, they’re looking for the best value for their healthcare dollars.

No one understands this better than the dental industry. Need proof?

A blind study conducted by Market Strategies for Angie’s List showed:

· 50 percent of dentists believe that online review sites help their practice;

· 50 percent of dentists believe the sites improve patient engagement in their health care;

· Only 36 percent of primary care physicians believe online review sites help their practice; and

· Only 23 percent of primary care physicians believe the sites improve patient engagement. 

· General Dentistry is the most often searched and reviewed health category on Angie’s List; and

· Dentists consistently score better than other medical specialists on Angie’s List, and they tend to embrace the patient feedback, understanding the benefits positive reviews offer.

Angie’s List feedback is based on narratives about the consumers’ experiences, an overall grade, and individual grades for the practice’s availability, the office environment, punctuality, staff friendliness, bedside manner, communication, effectiveness of treatment, and billing and administration.

Dentist may be ahead of the online curve because many of their services are already optional as defined by many health insurance providers. As such, they’re already operating in a consumer-driven world that demands value.

New patient acquisition is a “hiring experience” whether anyone likes it or not. Increasingly, consumers are hiring the providers who have demonstrated good customer service track records.

Regardless of how your patients come to you, all healthcare providers should provide great value throughout their practice. That means good care, good office help, open communication, and fair prices. In this new consumer-driven world, earning high marks in those areas won’t be optional if your practice is to succeed.

Dentists get that. Every practitioner should.