How to help patients see value in the care you provide

By Sally McKenzie, contributing writer

January 22, 2020 -- Many patients just don't make dental care a priority. While they know they should see a dentist regularly, they don't fully understand the possible consequences of skipping out on routine checkups or not going through with recommended treatment. Therefore, these patients don't get the care they need, and your practice productivity numbers take a hit.

If you commit to showing patients the value of the services you provide, you'll find more of them will actually start accepting treatment. They'll be more likely to stay loyal to your practice, show up for their appointments, and refer your office to family and friends. Production and profits will start to rise, and you'll finally have the successful, thriving practice you've always wanted.

Sound good but not sure how to get started? Not to worry. Follow these tips to show patients the value of the care you provide -- and grow your practice in the process:

Tell patients about the services you offer

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

This seems simple enough, but it's something many dentists struggle with. They take the time to learn new skills to expand their list of services, but then they don't do much, if anything, to let patients know the services are available.

Don't be one of those dentists. I suggest you market sought-after services such as implant dentistry and clear-aligner therapy throughout your practice. Put brochures in the reception area and display before-and-after photos of successful cases on your walls. This might be enough to prompt patients to ask you about these services before you even have a chance to bring them up.

Focus on education

Brochures and posters are a good way to introduce patients to the services you provide, but don't stop there. Put more of a focus on education. How? Spend time talking with patients chairside. Find out what their oral health goals are, then tell them about the services you offer that can help them meet those goals. Show them images as well as videos of what's going on in their mouths that explain their condition and the procedure you're recommending. Educate them about the oral-systemic link and how their oral health affects their overall health.

Before patients leave, make sure they understand why you're recommending treatment and the possible consequences of delaying it. I also suggest reinforcing the message with educational e-newsletters. This helps keep dentistry top of mind when patients are outside the office.

If you use every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate, they'll start to see value in the services you provide -- and that makes them more likely to schedule and keep appointments.

Consider hiring a treatment coordinator

You might enjoy giving case presentations chairside, but the five or 10 minutes you typically have to spare really isn't enough. That's where a treatment coordinator can help. This team member can sit down with patients for as long as necessary in a comfortable, relaxed environment to go over all aspects of treatment, from how long they'll be off work to how much it will cost. Patients have the opportunity to ask any questions they have without feeling rushed, and the coordinator can address any perceived barriers to care.

And because most patients want to talk it over with a spouse or loved one before committing to treatment, I also suggest you train your coordinator to follow up with patients two days after the initial presentation. These calls should be used to further educate patients and stress the value of going forward with treatment.

When you approach case presentations this way, you'll find more patients will schedule, and that means practice productivity will start to rise.

Put together a detailed summary of every visit

Most patients have no idea what all goes into their appointment, which means they usually don't think twice about canceling at the last minute or not showing up at all. You can change that by giving patients a breakdown of their visit before they leave. Include all services performed, a review of the hygiene evaluation, recommendations for follow-up treatment and home care instructions in the summary. Remember to list every free product they're taking home, along with the estimated value.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't. Just create a standard template that can be easily filled in after every appointment. Make a point of giving patients the summary when they check out or email it to them as a way to follow up after their visit. Trust me, after patients realize what all goes into their appointment, they'll be less likely to flake out next time they're supposed to be in the chair.

When patients don't see value in dentistry, it's not a priority, which means they don't have a problem with canceling appointments at the last minute or not scheduling the treatment you recommend. If you show them the value of the services you provide, they'll be more likely to stay loyal to your practice, refer you to family and friends, and schedule recommended treatment. And when you have patients like that, your practice will flourish.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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