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Four ways to improve patient relationships

A doctor speaking with a patient to maintain relationship

Building strong patient relationships requires more than simply providing professional care and good oral health outcomes. Here are four easy strategies you can implement to make an impact on patient relationships.

1. Make time to chat

Trust is critical in the doctor-patient relationship. Taking the time to get to know your patients on a personal level helps to get them to see you as a person, too. It’s hard to talk while a patient is being examined or treated, so do your best to squeeze a minute or two in for small talk at the start of each appointment.

2. Say thank you

Find fun ways to let your patients know you appreciate their loyalty, such as birthday or holiday messages, oral health care goodie bags or referral reward programs that offer prizes.

3. Be open to questions

Always give patients an opportunity to raise concerns or ask questions. Remember that some people might be shy, so try starting a conversation with, “Do you have any questions for me today before we start?” or something similar.

4. Be prepared for any delays

Keeping your schedule moving along is the best way to limit the amount of time patients spend in your waiting room. But things happen.

  • Be transparent–honesty is always the best policy when managing delays, so let patients know when you’re running behind
  • Maintain a clean and well-stocked waiting room, and make sure your wi-fi connection is fast and able to handle a full room of patients
  • Apologize for the wait–a simple “I’m sorry” and a brief explanation for why you’re running behind goes a long way towards easing frustration
  • Keep the doctor informed–ask front office staff to let you know when a bottleneck starts forming, as it’s not always clear in the operatory what things look like in the waiting room

Do what you can to make sure scheduling issues are an exception and not the rule.