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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

February 22, 2010

What protocols are in place to answer a call from a new patient?

What is the overall experience you want your new patient to have?

When do you have time in your schedule to accommodate the new patient? Do they need to wait 3 or 4 weeks to be seen?

Are you creating both a welcoming and positive experience for new patients from the first call they place to your office to the moment they complete their first visit?

Are you paying attention to the details or just going through the motions of the new patient routine?

If you’ve had your share of “new but never to be seen again patients” it’s probably time to dust off the “rules” for encouraging and welcoming new patients into your practice.

Schedule time for important people in your life: New patients are calling because they want your services now, not next month.. Absolutely the worst message you can give anyone who calls your practice – new or existing patients – is that you don’t have time for them. There are currently dental practices today that tell prospective patients that they will have to wait three weeks to even six months for an appointment. This is an insult to the caller. This is telling the patient you are not really looking forward to seeing them. If you have a potential first date; you make time to meet that important person. Your future husband or wife. It is the same thing with a new patient.

Avoid the backlog blunder. Determine how much time you need to allocate in the schedule to accommodate new patients. Look at the new patient activity in your schedule over the last six months. If you saw 150 new patients, that would be 25 per month or approximately 6 per week. Reserve at least that much time in your schedule to handle your immediate new patient demand.

New patient appointment need to be reserved during prime time. These are the hours in which your practice experiences the greatest demand for appointments. These may possibly be early morning or late afternoons. If you have Saturday appointments this is a good day to have new patients on your schedule.

Great Expectation for your new patients. From the first phone call to your practice new patients are judging the professionalism of the doctor and the their team. Patients expect to be treated with respect and professionalism. They expect their concerns and needs to be addressed expeditiously. They expect doctor and the team to offer the perfect balance of control and flexibility. They expect the quality of the doctor to be reflected in the quality of his or her team. First impressions do make the difference.

What is it that you want to be known for? This is the time it is important the new patient gets the feel for your specific brand. This is the one time you want them to know what you are all about. When the phone is answered your name is on the line. Now is the important time. It is the time when how the new patient feels about the doctor, the team, and the overall experience will determine if there dedication as a patient. It is what makes or breaks them.

The new patient along side your team are what will make your dental practice successful. This is where you want to invest your personal time and make a winning situation.