Industry content

How to Improve the Dental Experience for Patients

Date Posted: 01.05.22

Dentistry is a unique industry in that it combines healthcare with exceptional customer service. At least, it should, when done correctly! To attract new patients and retain existing ones, practices need to provide great patient experiences every time.

Part of providing an exceptional dental experience includes using a professional office management system to increase efficiency and organization. As a specialty dental provider, all you need is an internet browser to access Cloud 9 Software’s innovative practice management solution. However, it’s not just about administration. Let’s look at why providing an outstanding dental experience is so important and how to improve patient satisfaction scores.

How to Improve the Dental Experience for Patients

Enhancing Patient Experience: Why It Matters

It can be challenging to provide exceptional dental experiences because visiting the dentist is not often considered enjoyable. In fact, a significant percentage of us experience anxiety about dental appointments. There are several reasons for this, including previous negative experiences, embarrassment, and fear of pain.

The best strategies to improve patient satisfaction involve a person-centric approach. People need to feel they’re being treated as a person, not as a patient. In other words, practices need to be caring, not clinical. A study in Australia created profound changes in oral health care routines and attitudes simply by:

  • Being attentive to questions and concerns
  • Never blaming or shaming patients for poor oral health status
  • Making patients aware of preventive options
  • Educating patients on how to maintain a healthy mouth and teeth
  • Providing support and reassurance

There is a business perspective, too. It’s estimated that 26% of American adults have untreated tooth decay, and 46% of all over 30’s show signs of gum disease. By providing a more comfortable dental experience, practices stand to gain and retain a much bigger client base while simultaneously improving the nation’s oral health.

11 Strategies to Improve Patient Experience in Your Dental Practice

Does your practice have a patient experience improvement strategy? Here are some of our top tips for enhancing patient experience to get you thinking.

1. Minimize Hassle

Let patients know what to expect from their first point of contact. Use call waiting times on your phone queue to provide information that maximizes the volume of calls you can handle while also improving receptionist efficiency. You could include:

  • Where to find new patient signup forms on your website
  • Which insurance policies are accepted
  • What to bring to an appointment (ID card, insurance documents, etc.)
Automate your confirmations and reminders

2. Send Appointment Reminder Texts

Automatic reminders reduce the likelihood of patients missing appointments. This cuts down on missed appointment fees that lead to dissatisfied customers and potentially negative reviews. With high-quality software like Patient Spotlight from Cloud 9 Software, you can automate tasks from the moment a new patient signs up.

3. Streamline Your Intake Process

Make the check-in process easy when patients arrive by utilizing additional software and technology. No one likes waiting in line. To avoid queues, you can install self-serve kiosks where patients can check-in, update their personal details, and book their next check-up or follow-up appointment.

4. Create a Lasting Impression

Dissatisfied customers tell twice as many people about a negative experience than happy customers tell about a positive one. So go the extra mile to make your patients feel comfortable and at ease. Visiting a dentist is a stressful experience for many patients. Little extra touches like offering a welcome drink (preferably nothing sugary) or a clinic orientation can go a long way to help people relax.

5. Minimize Waiting Anxiety

While having patients wait is often unavoidable, your patient experience strategy should include ways to minimize the anxiety this can cause. If possible, give people an expected wait time. Research shows that 80% of patients would be less frustrated if they knew how long their wait would be. You could also use digital signage with updates on the queue status. This has been proven to reduce perceived wait times by up to 35%.

6. Build a Strong Team

Patients, and particularly nervous patients, appreciate consistency in your dental clinic staff. Familiar and friendly faces are reassuring and vital in establishing positive patient interactions. It is, therefore, in a clinic’s best interest to attract and retain a strong and cohesive team.

Waiting room aesthetics

7. Waiting Room Aesthetics

There are several ways to increase patient satisfaction in the waiting room. Comfort is key. Especially on days where wait times are extended, your waiting room needs to be a place where patients feel relaxed. Some ways to achieve this include providing:

  • Sofas rather than chairs
  • Tasteful artwork
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • A charging station for phones and tablets
  • Desk space for patients with laptops
  • A water dispenser
  • Relaxing ambient music
  • Up-to-date magazines and books to read

8. Exam Room Ambiance

The exam room is where that big scary chair and all the dental equipment live. So it’s just as important, if not more so, that patients feel at ease once they enter. Popular options include investing in vibrant artwork for the walls and adding a bit of life with some pot plants or even a fish tank. Some dentists are incredibly inventive in their strategies to improve patient satisfaction. Many add artwork, puzzles, or even video installations on the ceiling, as this is where patients’ eyes are directed most of the time.

9. Educate Your Patients

Often, people are scared of things they don’t understand. Yet, research shows that many people find medical technology exciting. Use patient interest as an opportunity to educate your patients to reduce anxiety. Explain how digital x-rays work, show them how the equipment gets cleaned and sterilized, give them lots of information on new technologies and techniques, etc.

10. Encourage Self-Care

Every dentist dreams of a portfolio of patients who are proactive with their own oral health. But encouraging people to maintain good habits once they leave the clinic isn’t easy. By upgrading your software and offering online customer portals with resources and reminders, patients are much more likely to remain engaged and take better care of their teeth. Cloud 9 Software helps specialty dental practices connect with their patients with Patient Portal and other engaging patient communication abilities.

Send post-visit surveys

11. Send Post-Visit Surveys

An excellent dental experience doesn’t end when a patient steps out of your office. Sending post-visit surveys gives customers a voice and demonstrates your commitment to their health beyond the walls of the clinic. You have a better chance of filtering out negative experiences and rectifying them before they become online reviews by approaching patients directly. Plus, you can constantly collect valuable information to drive further improvement.

Streamline Your Dental Practice with Cloud 9 Software

We hope we’ve given you some inspiration on ways to improve patient experiences at your practice. If you need any assistance with software solutions to ensure your patient experience improvement strategy is successful, then Cloud 9 Software can help.

Our specialty dental practice management software is easy to use. It allows you to track patients, automate staff workflows, improve accounting efficiency, and send out customized reminders, among a multitude of other functions.

Book a free demo or contact our team today to discover how we can help your team to provide a great patient experience.