Dental hygienist and management coach, Siobhan Kelleher, takes a look at two techniques that can help you build a stronger relationship with your patients…
There are a lot of things that are vitally important to the success of a practice – and one of those is the relationships you have with both your team and with your patients. Having a good relationship with them can build loyalty and trust and it will lead to your plan numbers increasing, and your practice growing.
So, it is important you invest in those relationships and do all you can to build them. Here are two ways you can do that…
Focused and personal
For me, the start of the relationship between a patient and the dentist and their team begins the moment they step foot into the practice. As a hygienist, what I always do is go to the waiting room and greet the patient there. Over the last two years it has been difficult to greet them with a handshake because of the Covid pandemic, but just meeting them in the waiting room can help build a rapport and reassurance.
When they are in the surgery, the one big thing you can do is sit directly facing the patient from the beginning of the appointment. The reason for this is because it shows you are listening to what they are saying and you’re totally focussed.
In a lot of practices, I’ll see patients being invited in with the dentist telling them to hop in the chair and they will be talking to them as they try to lean back and look up, and they’ll be trying to answer while the clinician is starting to work in their mouth.
With that and maybe the radio on in the background, this can create a bit too much of a busy atmosphere in the practice. So, creating that time beforehand to have a small chat is really beneficial and will help to develop a relationship.
Another way of building a strong rapport with a patient is by using the OSKAR model. That stands for outcome, scaling, know how, action and review and this is a way of stepping back and looking at the big picture of a patient’s treatment.
So, when a patient comes into the practice they will, for example, say they are looking for a smile makeover. But it is important to understand exactly what they want: whether it is a full reconstruction, a whitening or veneers. So, what Outcome do they want?
The next thing you need to do is look at the Scaling. This means, on a scale of one to 10 how much does the patient want to have the treatment? You do this by having a good conversation with them about their reasons for wanting to have the treatment.
Next is Know how, and this involves you having a conversation with the patient and explaining what sort of expertise you will need to carry out the work, whether it be needing to bring in a periodontist or an implantologist.
Action is about making sure the patient is ready to go to ahead with the treatment and involves presenting them with enough information, such as what it involves, the financial side of the treatment and what the outcome will be.
And then Review is an ongoing element to the model. This involves keeping in regular contact with patients from each appointment to see how they are getting on, how their treatment has gone and how things have changed for them.
So, by using these two different techniques you will really be able to strike up better relationships with your patients, which will lead to recommendations and more people coming to you for treatment. That will then lead to growth in your practice.
Siobhan Kelleher is a multi-award-winning dental hygienist and a qualified personal management coach.