Tips for enhancing patient loyalty – “From a patient to a friend”
All-round service is essential in prophylaxis
Prophylaxis is clearly a part of the dental practice with great potential in terms of service. It supports patients in prevention, helps in case of disease and generally contributes to improved health and well-being. Good service means good all-round patient care – from information to education, the actual treatment and beyond.
Further enhancing high compliance levels
From professional tooth cleaning and polishing to supportive periodontal therapy (SPT) as part of periodontitis therapy – prophylaxis is among the areas in dentistry that enjoy the greatest acceptance. Patients have positive associations with prophylaxis, and its results are immediately visible and noticeable. This high degree of compliance can be further enhanced by a few service related practices.
As always, information comes first. Desires can only be stimulated if information is provided. Include prophylaxis in your practice brochures and marketing materials, and of course include it on your website.
The same applies for periodontitis. Although this is a far more sensitive area, it is one in which prevention is well accepted too. Patient information sheets have proven to be very helpful for this purpose. For instance, you may place a general information sheet on the disease in your waiting room. Use a second information sheet specifically for periodontitis treatment to hand out to patients with the corresponding indication. This gives them the opportunity to think about the infection at home and learn something about the course of treatment before it starts.
Discussing the issue of pre-treatment and follow-up care
The earlier you inform patients about the required prophylaxis, the greater will be their acceptance of pre-treatment and follow-up care whether paid privately or funded in full or part by the NHS.
Handouts which discuss what to do before and after treatment are seen to offer added benefit. Specific recommendations support the patient and convey the idea that you as a dentist and your team strive to be open and transparent.
Special professional teeth cleaning offers for special patients
If you would like to expand your prophylaxis delivery, you could think about offering a variety of other services. In addition to the classic professional tooth cleaning and polishing for adults and for children you could offer a specific prophylaxis treatment during pregnancy, oral health consultation hours and a prophylaxis program tailored to the needs of the 50+ age group or even a 'wedding photo smile'.
Displays at the reception desk or in the waiting area can provide information about prophylaxis, for instance in the form of a prophylaxis menu. Patients will feel looked after and your wide range of services in this area will be immediately visible – as will your expertise.
Service during treatment
An ideal prophylaxis session consists of consultation & information, treatment and discussion of any further procedures and recommendations for oral hygiene at home. Through service, you and your team can score across the board. The tips below are intended as suggestions for you and your dental hygienists.
In the beginning, give the patient detailed information about everything that will happen during the session. Show the patient the instruments, polishing heads, pastes and lacquers while they are still sitting upright – interacting, paying attention and asking questions becomes much more difficult when lying down with instruments or even tubing in the mouth.
Unpack instruments and equipment in the presence of the patient; everything can already be set out on the tray. This gives an excellent impression of the organization and hygiene in your practice.
Explaining the devices’ advantages for the patient
While performing the treatment, explicitly explain every step and highlight advantages. If you do not point it out, the patient will probably not notice the fact that the prophylaxis handpiece is particularly ergonomic and small, but if you do, the patient will appreciate you and the practice for it. The same applies to polishing cups, where small size is a true advantage.
If you use a piezo scaler, clearly point out its advantages over conventional handheld instruments as well. Depending on the product, the optional temperature-controlled fluids and various intensity modes may be further service benefits that should be clearly communicated. High quality equipment highlights your expertise – and thereby ensures a lasting positive impression on patients.
Welcome to recall
Clearly, high quality service in prophylaxis includes a structured recall system. Offer your patients this option from the beginning, when they complete their medical history questionnaire and provide a selection of notification options (in compliance with data protection regulations). Whether you use telephone calls, postcards, email or text messaging – you should address patients in a pleasant, inviting and positive manner.
As an alternative to stock images, a custom recall card using the corporate identity of the practice and a friendly greeting may be an attractive option. Unlike pre-designed cards, custom cards allow you to freely design the notification both visually and in terms of content. Send postcards in an envelope. Doing so ensures privacy, and the card will arrive in good condition and without damage caused by the postal system.
Patient service is a source of pleasure – particularly in prophylaxis. Benefit from the positive associations with this area to enhance the image of your practice and gain further appreciation from your patients.