Building Trust and Quality Care
Let’s be frank—any procedure where your dentist refers to the “pulp” of your tooth will likely make patients a little weak in the knees. And that’s just what an endodontist does day in and day out. As experts on the interior nerves of the teeth, endodontists might have the toughest time of all specialty practices when it comes to keeping patients. That’s why patient retention is so vital for endodontic practices.
Patients often feel anxiety going into such specialty procedures, leading them to switch care providers with little to no notice. By building trust through constant communication, personalized care, and respectful engagement, endodontists can help their patients feel safe during sometimes scary procedures. A lack of trust only negatively impacts your practice and patient retention. Build trust, and your patients won’t question your competence or feel mistreated, ultimately resulting in negative reviews, loss of referrals, and lowered patient retention. That’s no good!
Learn how to cultivate a strong foundation of confidence between yourself, your team, and your patients with these actionable tips.
What’s patient retention and why does it matter?
Patient retention is just what it sounds like! The ability of a dental practice to keep new and existing patients so satisfied that they return for ongoing care.
Patient retention is super important for endodontists. That’s because less than three percent of all dentists are trained endodontists. While all dentists are trained to diagnose issues, endodontists attend two or more years of specialty training. This training makes them the experts on deep tooth pain, root canal treatments, and procedures all about the interior of the tooth. A regular dentist may refer patients to endodontic practices when care is beyond the scope of their expertise. As such, endodontists often see new patients for their very first time. Since a patient may never have seen an endodontist before, making them feel comfortable with the experience is key.
Building loyalty with patients gives dentists and endodontists the tools they need to provide quality care. As you see repeat patients, you become more familiar with their habits and needs, allowing for tailored care plans and anticipating any future issues. When you see the same person regularly, you can also build rapport and relationships that make your patients feel comfortable. It’s as simple as getting to know each other. Here are some actionable tips on how to keep nervous patients calm and coming back for your care.
Be an active listener
There’s nothing worse than when you tell someone how you feel, and they dismiss you. This is especially relevant for dental care. Patients may have no idea what the issue is with their teeth, or they may have done some research on what’s happening to them. Either way, a provider’s role is to put their ego aside and listen to what a patient has to say.
If your endodontic patient isn’t sure how to articulate what hurts or is going on inside their mouth, you can ask clarifying questions. Explain possible issues in simple terms to help them better tell you about their current oral health. Offering a few options of what you think (as an expert in the field) might be happening can help narrow down how you can best care for them. This kind of patient engagement helps soothe confusion and lets your patient better understand the next steps.
For patients who are more well-versed or convinced they suffer from a specific issue, active listening is especially important. They’ve done their research maybe to ease anxiety before a visit or because they want to try and communicate in specific terms. What’s important here is to trust they are accurately describing their feelings, acknowledge the hard work they’ve done in self-diagnosis, and offer your gentle insights on the information they’ve provided. This will make them feel heard and, in turn, trusted.
Trusting patients come back to your practice—especially when they know you have time to truly listen to what they have to say. By listening and making early consultations into conversations (instead of rushed explanations), you show your endodontic expertise and make patients feel like they are involved in decision-making surrounding their upcoming oral procedure.
Explain, explain, explain!
Once you’ve listened closely, discussed the issues at hand, and established a trusting relationship, you can further your patients’ level of comfortability through explanation. Endodontic procedures are more intimidating and less familiar than just a routine cleaning. Most of your patients will be used to the visits they have had since childhood with a regular dentist. Less so for endodontics. That’s why it’s essential to show them just what to expect and why in a straightforward way.
Using simple visuals and easy-to-understand terms regarding their care can help patients wrap their heads around why you are performing a procedure and how. Prepare to answer any questions and explain the logic behind why you have chosen to do x, y, or z.
Explain and educate online, too!
Ideally, this first and possible subsequent explanations can be done in person where your patients can start to feel comfortable with you face-to-face and in your practice’s environment. By asking them to come in for a consultation, they also have the opportunity to meet with your team and build relationships with others present at the practice.
Alas, people are busy and so are you! Patient communication software can help with some explaining and the many follow-up questions patients may have. Two-way texting and online chat options provided by Intiveo’s software opens a line of direct communication. This allows your patients to talk to you in real time about any concerns they might have. We’ve all gone home and realized we wanted to ask a question or forgotten something someone’s told us! Now it’s easy to find out more by just logging on online or using mobile.
Educational resources such as videos illustrating procedures can also be made available at home with Intiveo. Or, design PDFs that patients can access via email if they want to review their procedures. These same tools can create details pre- and aftercare information for your patients. Through explanation and education, your patients will feel engaged and empowered by your practice. These positive feelings will make them want to return and help encourage them to recommend you to their friends and family … which brings us to … reviews!
Ask your patient’s opinions to establish trust
Asking for someone’s opinion is a powerful indicator that you trust them. And when your endodontic patients feel you trust them, they will trust you. Use Intiveo to build automated follow-up surveys about how they felt before, during, and after their endodontic procedure. When you get positive feedback, ask them to post to Yelp, Facebook, or other online review sites.
Negative reviews are just as, if not more, important to endodontic patient retention. Read these closely to learn what you need to do differently next time. You may even consider reaching out to less-than-happy patients with a kind message or well-mannered offers regarding how you can help them have a more positive experience moving forward.
By acknowledging that you’ve heard and seen patients’ opinions, good and bad, you prove that you care about them even after they leave the office. Better yet, when they see you making moves to change what didn’t work or do more of what does, patients intrinsically understand that you’ve taken their words to heart and mind. That feeling of acknowledgment goes a long way.
Keep ‘em coming back with Intiveo
Endodontics is a tricky field when it comes to patient retention because of the sensitive nature of what you do. Some things that go a long way, like active listening, you just have to learn how to do on your own. But other channels that encourage patient retention can be streamlined with Intiveo’s specialized software. Make the trust-building process more accessible by following up and explaining more over direct chat, providing educational resources, and asking for reviews to learn more about yourself. All of this combined with conversational, respectful communication, allows you to provide the quality care that encourages patient retention at your endodontic practice. Let your patients know that they (and their teeth!) are in good hands.