Stay “Front of Mind” Through Effective Dental Patient Communication

Nov 09, 2022

Some things are a matter of intentional focus. Dental patient communication would be among them.

Even so, communication can slip off your radar. Other more front-line priorities can take precedence such as care standards or increasing your service offerings.

Care and the services you provide are no doubt top priorities. But the experience you provide your patients — as in how effectively you communicate with your patients — also requires your energy.

Are you front of mind?

That’s a key question around your patient communication strategy. Being (and staying) on the minds of your patients helps trigger their thinking around your practice, services and the patient experience.

  • Referrals
  • Scheduling and appointment consistency
  • Treatment follow-up and follow-through
  • Influence and education about dentistry

These have roots in how well you communicate with your patients on a consistent basis.

And of course, there’s the realm of communication that applies to your dental marketing strategy. 

“Making time for marketing activities like patient communication can be difficult, but it is essential. Finding the right cadence and implementing methods that work best for you patients and your practice will help boost case acceptance, reduce costly broken appointments, increase referrals and grow your bottom line.” 1

Relative to “cadence” is knowing how your patients prefer to receive communication from you. Before you reach for the phone to follow up or remind a patient about their upcoming appointment, you might consider if the method you’re using works for a particular patient demographic.

  • Are they answering when you call?
  • Do they respond to voicemails?
  • Is their preference a phone call, text message or email?

Data analytics can provide you a running profile on what’s working (and what’s not) relative to front-of-mind communication with your patients. This is where your follow-up notes and related communication “keywords” or “tags” can pay off.

With that in mind, let’s cover a few front-of-mind and effective dental patient communication strategies.

How to stay front of mind with effective dental patient communication

Know and use preferred modes of communication

Again, this circles back to a keen awareness of your patient data. Practically speaking, a segment of your patients will prefer direct, voice communication while others might welcome a more indirect, less intrusive approach.

Both work, so why not master each of them?

Phone skills

The phone is likely your default communication tool. If so, it’s vital that those who use it are skilled.

  • Keep the tone conversational and compelling rather than sounding rehearsed and overly technical.
  • Be strategic with your voice messages. Attach a relevant benefit to compel a callback.
  • Leverage listening skills. Listen for clues patients reveal about their lives, attitude towards scheduling, etc.

The phone might not be every patient’s preference. But when it is, make the most of each call.

Text and email skills

This communication channel is popular for a good reason. Patients could perceive it to be easier, more convenient and less intrusive than a phone conversation.

For those reasons and others, it’s essential to be skilled in how to use text and email communication with patients who prefer it.

  • Start with their permission. Request your patient’s consent to send and receive messages from your office.
  • Keep message content secure and compliant. Not all eyes on a text or email might belong to your patient, so it’s necessary to avoid sharing sensitive information.
  • Be brief, benefit-focused, and action-biased with your text and email messages. Inform, compel and call to action.

Next …

Be intentional with your appointment-related communication

The patient experience encompasses a lot of communication territory. 

How you communicate pre-appointment

The high points of this communication zone set the tone for their experience with you and your team.

  • Set a helpful, informative tone for their experience.
  • Speak to them by name.
  • Support their understanding of the appointment and treatment with clear (non-technical) explanations.

How you communicate at the appointment

  • Walk them through the appointment/procedure.
  • Explain the benefits they can expect.
  • Encourage them to ask questions along the way.
  • Summarize their appointment/procedure and any next steps.

How you communicate about treatment

  • Avoid dental-speak (technical language) and keep it simple.
  • Share resources and relevant information to support their understanding.
  • Attach benefits to the solutions you’re prepared to provide.

How you communicate about fees and payments

  • Be transparent about insurance, fees and out-of-pocket costs. 
  • Initiate the fee and payment conversation.
  • Be prepared to offer payment options and give them time to select the one that’s best for them.
  • Outline the costs alongside the benefits of their treatment.
  • Avoid prejudging your patient relative to their ability to pay.

How you communicate when completing their appointment

  • Know your handoff routine (from clinical to front office) ahead of the completed appointment.
  • Give your patient space to ask any final questions.
  • Provide your patient with next steps, follow-up and post appointment guidance if they have questions or concerns.

Communication happens regardless. Make sure your patient communication is intentional throughout each channel or scenario.

Use the following resources to refresh and renew your dental patient communication process:

2 Factors That Are Useful to Understanding and Shaping Dental Patient Behavior Around Treatment

How to Create a Data “Story” and Use It to Guide Patient Care and Dental Practice Growth

Data analytics can help you become front of mind and compelling in your dental patient communication

The Jarvis Analytics platform helps ensure that you’re tracking useful patient data, the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice or DSO grows and expands

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!


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