Dentists must provide the most comfortable, convenient, and comprehensive care. Every step matters, from when they make the initial phone call to checking out at the front desk. Dentists need to provide a fulfilling patient experience. Patients who receive exceptional care and customer service are more likely to recommend your office to their friends and family.
Using the proper protocols, systems, and workflows to guide these encounters increases your chances of establishing and maintaining a successfully positive patient experience and, ultimately, a successful practice.
Significance of “Personal” Clinical Excellence
Everyone in the dental industry may relate to this issue, yet it has distinct effects on each person. Nobody is a flawless dentist, including me. I make mistakes, deal with redos, have uncomfortable situations, and receive unfavorable feedback. Perfection is unrealistic; instead, strive to do your best! Every dentist should have this as their intention and not try to be everything to everyone.
Benefits of Using Workflows In Your Practice
I go into every procedure with a game plan in my daily general practice. I didn’t adhere to such a plan earlier in my career, but now I do, as I have realized that the old method of just “winging it” wasn’t efficient; it created voices in my head, procedures took longer than they should have and I had a lot more stress. Now I follow a workflow – I go from bur to bur to bur, from material to material, take step by step, and don’t skip steps. Each bur, material, or action has a process, a reason for it. Patients are wowed by how quickly the treatment was completed and how efficient my staff and I were. Since we have done this procedure together many times, we know it inside out. Again, satisfied patients will refer our services to their friends and family. That’s how you grow a practice.
How Do Magnification And Intra-oral Scanners Help You Become A Better Dentist?
Earlier, when I did a crown, I took traditional impressions and sent them to a lab. Now, I use a digital impression scanner. I can prep the tooth and scan and enlarge that image ten times. I can check for undercuts, missed margins, or inadequate occlusal reduction. If needed, I can trim out the area on the digital scan, go back, and re-prep or re-capture the margins. Since going digital, my crown procedures are quicker, more efficient, and create better results.
Respecting Your Comfort Zone
Clinically and mentally, I recommend dentists find and stay in their comfort zone. Get trained and educated, and slowly and strategically add techniques and treatment modalities to your practice.
You may make mistakes when you veer off your comfort zone in a business decision, but in a clinical situation, you can’t afford to do that with a patient; if you aren’t comfortable with a patient or with a clinical procedure, then it is best to refer to a colleague. Don’t let patients pressure you into veering out of your comfort zone doing procedures you are uncomfortable with. Just tell them you want to get them in the best possible hands for this situation. Most patients will appreciate this kind of honesty.
The Importance of Before And After Photos
A photo is worth a thousand words. Dentistry is hard to explain to patients because they often can’t visibly see or feel the problem. When you show a ‘Before’ picture of a cracked tooth, dark decay, or broken filling, they will understand the exact condition more than if you just verbally explained it. You can review the consequences of not following through with the treatment by showing them the picture, which typically increases case acceptance.
Patients will “own” the problem by visibly seeing that image of the crack or decay and understand how important it is to take care of it and do the procedure. I also like to take photos with my intraoral camera midway through the procedure. Such as after I have removed the broken filling and detected dark decay. Then, show the all-important after pictures. The patient will see your great work and appreciate you for that. You can show them this journey with the photos you have taken.
The Importance of A Well-Trained Team
It’s crucial to have everyone rowing in the right direction and understand what you are trying to accomplish with every procedure. When I get newly hired dental assistants, I show them how I carry out procedures step-by-step on a typodont model. Then, I get them to do the same procedure on the model while guiding them. For example, I’ll prep a crown, show them how I make a temporary one, and then have them do it themselves. Or I’ll prepare a class 2 cavity, show them my workflow for restoring it, and have them do it themselves. This way, they learn how each step is necessary for the final result. When they repeat the same process, they go on autopilot. They know to anticipate what you do and even be one step ahead. They will be impressed when the patient sees how well you and your team work together.
“Always Be Learning” or ABL
Always Be Learning. Despite 20 years in dentistry, I still learn new things every day. Keep reinventing yourself. Go out there, get educated, learn from your peers, re-energize yourself, and avoid getting stuck in the dentistry hamster wheel of repeatedly doing the same old thing. That will make going to work every day a lot of fun.
About the Author
Dr. Eric Block DMD, CAGS, FICOI, FICD, FAADS
Dr. Eric Block is a full-time practicing dentist in Acton, Massachusetts, husband, and father of two kids. He is known as The Stress-Free Dentist and hosts the Stress-Free Dentist Podcast.