Elevating Patient Experiences
In an era where patient experience is a priority in healthcare, dental professionals are continuously seeking ways to optimize oral health outcomes for their patients. By understanding and addressing patients’ motivations, dental practices can create a lasting impact on patients’ lives, drive the growth of their practices, and foster a supportive and thriving work environment.This also tremendously impacts your ability to build a unique brand. In this article, we will delve into the three key drivers of dental patient motivation2 and explore strategies to foster trust, communication, and patient-centric care in dental practices.
Understand Me: Building Trust through Personal Connection and Communication
Patients yearn for a meaningful relationship with their dental office, seeking personalized information that caters to their unique oral care requirements. Establishing trust among patients hinges on the pillars of education, communication, and fostering a deep sense of personal connection.1 A strong connection between dental professionals and their patients can lead to higher treatment acceptance rates, increased referrals, and improved patient loyalty. In fact, research shows that more than 95% of patients will engage more actively with a practice if they feel understood by the dental team.2
To foster these connections, the management and leadership teams should spend the time to truly define the values and philosophies the dental team will strive towards on a daily basis. Investing in training and workshops that focus on enhancing communication and empathy skills. Additionally, using technology, such as virtual smile design and patient excitement applications while brushing their teeth, can improve communication with patients and create a more engaging and enjoyable dental experience.
Fig 1. Patients seek personalized information that caters to their unique oral care requirements. Photo: Dr. Faraj Edher.
Value My Time: Providing Immediate, Convenient Solutions and Embracing Digital Communication
In today’s fast-paced world, patients appreciate actionable advice that encourages self-care efficiently. With a growing focus on oral health, they seek precise guidance for treatment, prevention, and home care maintenance from reputable brands. Interestingly, research has demonstrated that brand-specific recommendations for addressing oral care concerns significantly outperform generic suggestions across all demographics.2 The reason behind the greater effectiveness of brand-specific recommendations lies in the trust and familiarity patients associate with established brands.3 These reputable brands have often built their reputation through years of research, development, and proven results.
“95% of patients will engage more actively with a practice if they feel understood by the dental team.2”
Consequently, patients feel more confident in following their advice and using their products, which in turn leads to better compliance, improved oral health, and a sense of loyalty towards the dental practice that provides these targeted recommendations. Close to half of the patients (48%) express a preference for acquiring recommended products straight from their dental office2, underlining the significance of providing immediate, hassle-free solutions and smooth purchasing processes. It is a smart move to contemplate offering well-researched, credible products in their practice. Doing so not only promotes patient adherence4 but also synergizes their brand with other brands that uphold comparable values and principles. Moreover, digital communication is gaining prominence as it enables dental professionals to connect with patients through various devices. Embracing novel ways of digital engagement allows dental practices to strengthen patient relationships and offer a more tailored experience.3 By doing so, patients gain a sense of control over their lives, as they actively participate in their oral health management, ultimately promoting a sense of empowerment and well-being.
Improve My Life: The Importance of Evidence-Based Self-Care Products
The growing focus on self-care and proactive approaches to wellness highlights the importance of providing patients with effective oral health solutions. Patients who have positive care experiences are more likely to achieve better health outcomes.5, 6 This is supported by numerous evidence-based studies that demonstrate the efficacy of specific self-care products in improving oral health. For instance, a meta-analysis by Grender et al. revealed that using an oscillation-rotation electric toothbrush led to 7,4 better odds of patients attaining a generally healthy state compared to those using manual brushes.7 This example emphasizes the importance of providing patients with the right tools for maintaining their oral hygiene, empowering them to take control of their oral health.
Fig 2. Oral-B iO 9.
Another study by Biesbrock et al. demonstrated the power of targeted oral care products, such as bioavailable gluconate chelated stannous fluoride toothpaste. Patients using this toothpaste had 3.7x greater odds of transitioning from a gingivitis-afflicted state to a generally healthy one compared to those using negative-control toothpastes.8 By offering tailored solutions like these, dental practices can help patients feel in control of their lives and encourage them to invest in their well-being. It is crucial for dental practices that adhere to evidence-based dentistry to ensure that they communicate this evidence to their patients and their team members. After all, patients may not be aware of the advancements in oral care products and techniques that can significantly benefit their oral health. When our teams are well versed on the evidence, they can pass on this information more effectively to our patients. By dedicating time and effort to educate staff on the most up-to-date research, dental practices can confidently share their knowledge and empower patients to make informed decisions. This not only enhances the patient experience but also reinforces the practice’s commitment to providing optimal dental care. If we, as dental professionals, know that a certain tool or approach is superior, it is our responsibility to share this information with our patients, allowing them to take an active role in their oral health journey.
Fig 3. Crest Gum Detoxify.
A remarkable patient experience extends its influence beyond the realm of patient satisfaction and loyalty—it can also have a significant impact on the productivity of a dental office. When patients feel genuinely cared for and understood, they become active partners in their oral health journey. This heightened engagement translates into improved treatment acceptance rates, reduced appointment cancellations or no-shows, and increased referrals.5,6 Moreover, an exceptional patient experience creates a positive work environment that fosters higher staff morale, job satisfaction, and teamwork. This, in turn, leads to enhanced productivity, efficiency, and overall practice success. By prioritizing patient experience, dental professionals not only elevate the quality of care but also create an environment where both patients and the dental team thrive, forging a harmonious cycle of excellence and productivity.
“Interestingly, research has demonstrated that brand-specific recommendations for addressing oral care concerns significantly outperform generic suggestions across all demographics.2”
In the realm of dentistry, there lies a tremendous opportunity to transform the patient experience and make a profound impact on their lives. By embracing the core principles of understanding, time valuation, and evidence-based solutions, dental professionals can forge a patient-centric environment that transcends the ordinary. It’s a chance to ignite a spark of inspiration within every patient, empowering them to take control of their oral health journey and unlock the doors to a brighter, healthier future. As we incorporate these key drivers of dental patient motivation into our practice, we embark on a path of shared success, where exceptional care and unwavering dedication pave the way to thriving practices and enduring patient relationships.