Patient relationships are the fundamental basis of your dental practice and communication is central to these relationships. So how do you keep them in good working order and avoid misunderstandings? In this post, we’ll bring back patient personas to show you how to anticipate and avoid potential breakdowns in communication with various types of patients.
Come again? Diction is key
Studies show that good communication between dentists and patients is crucial to providing quality dental care. This means that lines of communication with your patients need to function properly. How can you be sure you’re getting through to patients in general, while maintaining an individual approach to communication? Look no further than your patient personas. These profiles of patient types should be on your mind when evaluating the way, you communicate: various ages, education levels, dental needs, fears, concerns, and wishes. How can you adjust your communication style to ensure you are effectively communicating with each patient type? How can you give each patient the sense that they are receiving personal treatment? How can you make it easy to communicate with your practice on their terms and help your practice grow in the process?
Example #1 – Linda
The Frugal Patient. You have a patient who does not have private dental insurance and as a result they have financial concerns. Linda wants to make good decisions about her dental health but financial limitations present a serious problem. With this type of patient, consider offering several treatment options at varying price points. Be up front about the benefits and issues associated with different treatments but don’t judge her if she chooses a cheaper option, one that might not represent the highest standard of care. For example, Linda may choose a removable dental bridge over a permanent three-unit bridge because of cost. Even though you know that a fixed bridge is a better option, be mindful of Linda’s situation and respectfully accept her choice.
Example #2 – Luke
The Health Conscious Patient. Luke has a cracked tooth that needs to be replaced. In cases like his, you would normally recommend a titanium dental implant, but Luke is the kind of patient who prefers homeopathic treatment to drug therapy and is concerned about having metal in his body. Consider offering him an all ceramic implant, even though you might not feel as confident about the performance of a ceramic implant as you would a titanium implant. Give him the facts about the success rates of metal versus ceramic implants. His concerns about having metal in his body might outweigh the slightly lower integration rates of ceramic dental implants.
Example #3 - Sandra
The Busy Mom. She is taking care of three children and rarely has time to make phone calls during the day. This is where having alternate forms of communication comes into play. Your website is an important communication tool. Let’s say Sandra needs several fillings but she hasn’t made the appointment because she doesn’t think about it until the kids are in bed. Does your website make it easy for her to book an appointment in a few minutes online? Can she do it on her cell phone? Make sure your site is mobile optimized so this patient can click a button to call your office instead of going to the trouble of dialing your number.
Staff training: getting everyone on the same page
Your staff is always your dental practice’s best asset. They are the first contact with patients and have already set the tone for all communications before you step into the treatment rooms. Train staff members on how to effectively communicate with different patient personas. Good communication with patients should start with good communication among your staff members!
Patient personas can help you improve your dental practice marketing and management across the board. With this flexible marketing tool, you can go from confronting an abstract potential problem like misunderstandings between your staff and patients to dealing on a concrete level with potential issues. Update your catalog of patient personas based on your experiences with individual patients and use this approach to continue to evolve as a practice and provide the best, most patient-centered and innovative dental care possible!Photo credit: $10 teeth cleaning by N A I T, CC BY-ND 2.0