Dental practices today may have a more difficult time establishing trust and lasting patient relationships than they ever have before. Largely through the internet, patients may have the ability to build or destroy the reputation of a practice, diagnose themselves with digital tools and compare prices in the fraction of a second, from anywhere.
Thankfully, there’s still a lot you may be able to do to win the trust of your patients, from little things to big changes, with varying degrees of effort. Explore our favorite ways to grow trust in your practice and buck some negative, tech-fueled trends.
1. Create a Strategy for Addressing Negative Reviews
Review sites, such as Google My Business and Yelp, may provide anyone with an internet connection the platform to publicly criticize and rate a dental practice, regardless of whether their claims are fair or even true.
Although these sites have some policies in place to protect businesses from false and defamatory claims, defending yourself may be a complex and lengthy process involving the judicial system and lawyers. In addition, you may not reach a resolution until after significant damages have been done to your professional reputation.
While HIPPA and other laws may prevent you from responding freely to negative patient reviews, you may still be able to publicly address negative feedback in a general sense, expressing your concern and directing the conversation offline without ever publicly acknowledging a specific patient or appointment. When enacted quickly, that strategy may help to successfully minimize the impact of negative reviews.
An experienced legal professional and or reputation management company may be able to help your practice develop a safe, effective and legal strategy for dealing with negative interactions on review sites or social media.
2. Make Connections
Talk about more than the weather during your next appointment. You may see many patients in a single day. Most patients, however, will likely only have one dentist, you, for many years. Make the effort to learn the details of your patients’ lives in order to create an ongoing dialogue about what’s really important to them.
Consider encouraging your staff and fellow dentists to ask about a patient’s family, job and interests during their next visit. Then, use clinic-area computers to routinely jot down notes and updates for each of them. Even a simple note to remind yourself of a patient’s new baby’s name may have a big impact on how comfortable a patient is in your care and how they reflect on their visit.
Beyond personal connections with your patients, consider ways to foster trust with your entire community. Options may include local team sponsorships, partnering with other small businesses, joining a local commerce association, event sponsorships and donations of good or services to charitable causes.
3. Create Policies That Show Patients You Care
Show patients you care by running your practice in a way that humanizes the patient experience. Try anticipating the needs of your patients and providing the care and amenities that you would want in the same situation. Perfecting the little details of your patient appointments may be the key to creating a comfortable environment in which patients feel valued and trust that you’re looking out for their best interests.
Consider minimizing wait times, not allowing patients to be put on hold, providing complimentary beverages and a comfortable waiting area, offering amenities for anxiety such as blankets or stress balls and purchasing a streaming service that allows patients to choose from popular audio or visual media during appointments.
For a bigger, bolder patient-centric policy shift, consider taking after hour or weekend dental emergencies that extend beyond painful emergencies to include cosmetic issues involving a patient’s front teeth. When patients come to you for whitening or other cosmetic dentistry services, they’re investing in their appearance.
Chipping a front tooth during breakfast on Saturday may ruin a patient’s entire weekend (and possibly a major life event). Show patients you’re just as concerned about their smile at that moment as you are during office hours when they’re investing in expensive whitening or veneers.
By offering your services when something causes a sudden negative impact to the appearance of a patient’s most visible teeth, you may be doing a lot to prove you also value their appearance, even when it’s inconvenient to you.
Building Patient Trust in Your Dental Practice
Like any relationship, building trust with your patients may take time and a committed, long-term effort. So make your policies and commitment consistent, always building upon what you’ve established rather than changing tactics frequently. Remember, patients with good oral health may only get the opportunity to interact with you twice per year.
Trust may be an important part of a doctor-patient relationship. As the trusted advisors to dental professionals for more than 50 years, we understand that better than anyone. When you’re faced with the challenges of running a dental practice and making the right decisions for both your personal and professional life, we have the experience to try to help.
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel is a premier financial services provider to dental and medical professionals across the country. We assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement with a comprehensive suite of financial services, custom-tailored advice, and a strong national network focused on delivering the highest level of service.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Risk Management are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Treloar & Heisel, Inc. does not offer legal or marketing advice. Please consult a professional in these areas.