Let’s face it, nobody over the age of 6 gets excited about a dental visit. Often patients will find anything else to take priority over scheduling dental care unless it is prompted by pain. Dental providers and front office staff often hear, “let me check my schedule and I will call”, except they often don’t. Identifying the barriers and implementing key tactics can help fill your schedule without much work. Reach's experienced phone answering team shares some of the most common barriers to scheduling they encounter.
Identify the Reluctance
There are many reasons a patient escaped through the office doors without scheduling, one is due to fear of procedures and pain. Oftentimes the fear arises from past bad experiences or a skewed perception of what a dental procedure entails. What seems normal and customary for dental providers elicits anxiety for many patients. Fear of needles and pain often keeps patients from scheduling treatment until the condition becomes painful or deteriorates.
When patients have not been to a dentist for a prolonged period of time they often feel as though they will be judged by the staff. The Mask-Mouth phenomenon over the past year has led patients to become more aware of their oral condition, in turn seeking dental care. Untreated periodontal disease and caries are the most common contributing factor to halitosis.
Listening to what your patients do, and don’t say can help your practice understand the barriers and the ways to encourage scheduling dental care. Listen to the concerns and questions, and having empathy toward their fears and reservations will go a long way to establish trust. Bad experiences and misinformation can be countered with compassion and education.
Discuss the procedure with the patient in enough detail to allow them to understand the basics, without giving too much unnecessary detail. Keep the discussion on a positive note and don’t allow it to take a negative turn. Nobody enjoys the process of dental care, even though it is a necessity, keep it educational and light.
Inform the patient of the risks of non-treatment. Most things if left untreated will deteriorate and can result in tooth loss or worse. All of which increase the cost. Intra-oral images are impactful in patient education and a key to treatment acceptance. Have one in every operatory and use them often, the images often prompt the patient to schedule when they can see what you see. Discuss the fact the sooner it is treated the easier it will be!
Speak to your Experience
Your patients return to your practice for a reason, be proud of it! Speak to your 5-star reviews and experience in your field. When patients feel confident in your care and recognize your expertise, they refer others!
When patients don’t immediately schedule their next dental visit, call within a few days to encourage scheduling when it is still fresh in the patient’s mind. Compassion, patient education and follow-up calls to encourage necessary treatment are the complementary combination to ensure a full schedule. Having a great internal process leads to a higher scheduling rate when calling patients back later, a full schedule helps drive your practice to the future.