Patient Experience & Perception
Have you asked yourself how your patients perceive you?
While the patient experience is important in every field of healthcare, it looks different depending on which field of healthcare you are in. Every demographic of patients is different.
This can be particularly true in dentistry. There are a number of specialties, each with their own set of patient experiences. For example, patients will feel one way about going in for teeth cleaning with their general practitioner, versus a different way about going in for dental implants from an oral surgeon. As a pediatric dentist, you will be caring for children and adolescents who may be nervous about going to the dentist for any procedure.
But patient perception is not just about dental specialties. As we will see, lots of factors are important in patient perception. And, in pediatric dentistry, there are some special considerations to take into account!
What’s Special About Pediatrics
Of course, there are really two patients in pediatric dentistry. One is the actual patient – the child or adolescent. The other is their parent or guardian.
Consequently, there are two sets of perceptions that you have to manage! These are based on two different sets of patient experiences.
Often, kids fear the dentist. Adolescents may associate the dentist with discomfort, or the embarrassment of braces and retainers.
Parents and guardians may take on these emotions and be anxious for the children in their care. Or, they’re frustrated with the situation, wishing that their children could ‘cooperate’ more easily with the dentist.
Creating an environment where both patients have a good experience begins with perception.
Perception is often defined as the way in which something is interpreted or regarded. Often, we build perception through experiencing or observing behaviors. We build perception on how we are treated.
As one doctor of dental surgery noted in a blog many years ago, dentists are in the business of building relationships. Technical skills are essential, of course, but they are not what keeps patients coming back to your practice.
It can begin with something simple, like creating a welcoming environment. For younger children in particular, having toys available in the waiting area might help them to associate the dentist with fun. Parents and guardians will have an opportunity to see their kids relax, creating positive associations for them as well.
Adolescents, of course, are a really hard crowd to please. Often, speaking to or otherwise treating a teenager like an adult can have positive effects, because autonomy is something many teenagers crave.
But before we get too far into suggestions, we have to ask an important question: how do we even know what our patients’ perceptions are? And how do we go about finding out?
Getting the Feedback That Matters
One of the key ways to find out if your patients are having a positive patient experience is through feedback.
Creating this culture of feedback begins in the dental examination chair. Talking the pediatric patient through the procedure, and asking the child or adolescent if they have questions, is an important element of that culture of feedback. You are creating an environment in which you show both the patient and parent/guardian that their opinions matter. Just the simple act of asking a child patient if they are comfortable in the chair, and then adjusting the chair if an adjustment will not affect the procedure, will show the patient that their opinion matters. Certainly, the parent or guardian will notice if you are considerate of their child. This will mean a lot to them.
This then opens the door to useful information on patient surveys! If you show that you are open to feedback, this will inspire honest responses to these surveys.
There are two kinds of meaningful surveys to send to your patients. Usually, it is the parent or guardian who will be answering them – so bear this in mind when creating the questions!
- Patient Satisfaction Surveys: have the patients’ expectations been met? Have they been exceeded? How satisfied are they with their healthcare outcome?
- Patient Experience Surveys: what is your patients’ assessment of their overall care? How was their interaction with your staff? How did they feel about your facilities? The waiting area?
Both provide essential information as to whether or not you are succeeding. However, remember: that patient experience survey will tell you about your patients’ overall perception of your practice. As we noted in a blog earlier this year, trusting your healthcare provider will foster a generous attitude toward their healthcare outcome, even if they are not 100% satisfied.
Making It Easy For Your Practice’s Families
Changing your patients’ perceptions and cultivating a great patient experience can be a challenge. Certainly, the parents and guardians of your pediatric patients are busy. It may seem like a tall order to get them to fill out a survey so that you can create a better patient experience for them.
The best way to gather this information is to make it accessible. Some ways to do that are:
- Assume parents and guardians are busy. Only ask relevant questions on these surveys, that are particular to your pediatric patients’ appointment type.
- Send these surveys in the way that parents and guardians want to receive them. Do they prefer hardcopy or paper surveys? Do they prefer to be communicated with via text or email?
- If the latter, be sure to send the survey right after the appointment. You will catch them with fresh perceptions about your practice that you will be able to incorporate.
Once you create that culture of feedback, you will be able to make changes or tweak things at your practice so that you are better able to serve your patients. In addition, when you receive positive feedback, you will be able to ask for reviews! These reviews can be a powerful tool for bringing more patients to your practice. This can be especially true of Google reviews. When you have a certain number of positive reviews, this boosts you in the algorithm. This, in turn, allows the parents and guardians of your pediatric patients to find your practice more easily!
One way to make this feasible is through patient communication software. Often, this software will allow you to get really specific. You can create surveys that are particular to the patient’sappointment type. Plus, with some software, you can automate this communication, which saves time for your staff.
Surveys With Intiveo
An example of that kind of software is the kind that we offer at Intiveo. Indeed, we work directly with several specialty practices, including pediatric. Our software is completely customizable to suit your practice’s needs.
Specifically, however, our Forms and Social Reviews add-ons allow practices to ask for that feedback with ease. With an all-in-one platform, these add-ons integrate directly with your Intiveo software. Should you choose to automate your messaging through software, this would allow you to:
- Increase form completion rates
- Easily track form completion progress
- Get direct patient feedback easily
- Increase patient reviews by 200%
- And more!
Curious to learn more about Intiveo? Book a meeting today!
Creating the Perception You Want
Understanding how your patients perceive your practice is key to providing a good patient experience. Through creating a culture of feedback, you can learn what those perceptions are. The parents and guardians of your patients lead busy lives. Cultivate that culture of feedback during your face time with your patients. Ask questions – and be ready for real answers! Accepting feedback will inspire trust with the families that your practice serves.
With the right culture and tools, you can change how your practice is perceived, facilitating great oral health outcomes and a great patient experience. In the meantime, check out the resources we offer at Intiveo to see if they can help!