Path of Excellence: Experience excellence
A successful dental practice relies on patients returning for routine care and ongoing treatments. This much is obvious, but recent years have seen a seismic change in both the industry landscape and how patients interact with their dentist and their practice.
Patients are more knowledgeable when it comes to treatments, using the internet to research their options even before reaching the practice and are also aware of alternative routes to treatment, both in their local area and also (pre-COVID), from abroad. Undeniably, cost can be a consideration here, especially in cases of dental tourism, but there is more to this picture than might first appear. Today’s more competitive landscape means that dental practices must truly understand all the different motivations a patient has, in order to fully meet their needs.
Putting patients first
Putting patients first is a central tenet in healthcare but longer waiting lists caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath appear to have curtailed patients’ experience and with fewer options available in the NHS sector, many patients are likely to migrate to those practices they feel can deliver treatment in a timely manner and which have a customer centric focus.
Whilst much of this influence is external, over which practices have little or no control, having an appreciation of how patients experience dentistry still represents a valuable opportunity. Practices that understand how to differentiate themselves from their neighbours will steal a march in the race to attract more patients and retain the ones they already have.
End to end patient experience
The GDC ‘Standards for the Dental Team’ published in 2013, addressed head on, the issue of patient experience, tackling the important question of how to meet patient expectations. But in the intervening years since this document’s publication, technology has taken expectations to a new level. Now, patients demand to be treated by their dental practice as they would be by any other service provider. So, a shift has occurred, moving the focus from what happens in the surgery to now also include what happens pre and post appointment. That’s not to say that clinical care is not essential, it is, and even the most aesthetic surroundings and most effective communication is never a substitute for poor care.
If we consider that good care standards are a given, we can then highlight other areas that become differentiating factors for one practice over another. Delivering these elements can be assured by using the tools and workflows that create an end-to-end experience that makes patients feel safe, happy and secure during every point of contact with the practice.
How software can help
Targeted software tools are now available which enable dental businesses to bridge the ‘experience’ gap and support quality of care with quality of service. These include remote form filling, online appointment booking, self-check in and automated follow-up.
The following are some aspects of service that go hand-in-glove with meeting patient expectations:
Keeping your dental practice in good health and navigating the current myriad of challenges is part and parcel of the dental industry in recent times. Appreciating this and leveraging the tools available is the most effective way to exceed patient expectations and build a thriving practice.
To find out how Software of Excellence can help, contact us now.