Consumers Value Oral Health – But Not Dental Visits

Dr. Bicuspid recently shared the latest ADA Health Policy Institute survey on oral health and quality of life. The study revealed that while nearly all adults VALUE oral health, only 37% actually visit the dentist annually.

Cost was cited as the top reason regardless of income level, age, or type of insurance. FEAR of the dentist was the second most common reason.

Cost and fear, we’ve all heard it … but I have another theory.

Patient Education + Practice Team Business Education

  • Patient education. The problem is most adults “believe” their teeth and gums are healthy. Without pain or symptoms, gum disease is silent, yet consumers are simply uninformed of this fact. People need to understand they have a need. And where is the ADA when it comes to consistent patient education? After 24+ years helping our clients educate our patients, I’m not sure.

    That leaves it up to the individual dentist to educate his or her target market about the impact their oral health has on their overall health. There simply isn’t enough media attention to the medical implications – consumers are naïve. That’s why thousands of dentists use the educational process we’ve developed. It’s easy to implement and it’s driving significant patient activity into the practice.
  • Practice team business education. I can’t tell you how many offices we’ve worked with or spoken to who have a frontline team who just doesn’t understand how important butts in chairs are to practice survival. Another patient visit is just more work for some practice staff. 

    On the other hand, I’ve met office and hygiene teams that understand the need for more patient activity when the doctor/owner doesn’t … and those who definitely don’t want any more work. Some have been force-fed training that wasn’t well received and others are hungry to learn how to improve what they’re doing.

I arrived home last night to a voicemail from my dentist’s office letting me know that both my husband and my daughter were overdue for their recall appointments. “If interested, we could give them a call.” If interested? Hopefully that’s not the way your staff handles recall bookings. The message should have been an urgent call to action. And I know this practice – they’re not overflowing with patients and don’t need to add operatories to fit another patient in. They have capacity!

I’ve blogged about my dentist before because I find it really frustrating. It would be so easy to improve their systems and scripts and increase their revenue – substantially. Hire for attitude, train for skill. Just keep training. Communication is the golden ticket to success. Share your goals and provide your team with the skills they need to work towards them. Nevertheless my dentist just doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it.

Maybe he’s a secret multi-millionaire and doesn’t really need our patronage.

The sad thing is that frontline staff who don’t work hard to increase new-patient bookings or who push patients to improve recall participation probably feel they are committed to patient health and that they’re “not selling dentistry.” Unfortunately that attitude isn’t good for patient – or practice – health.

If I wasn’t part of Patient News and hadn’t had the benefit of the oral health education I’ve been fortunate to receive, I just might be part of the 63% of adults that don’t visit the dentist annually – even though I value my oral health – because my dental practice team doesn’t push to get my attention.

It’s time for you to:

  • Run an audit on your patient charts to identify those who have lapsed
  • Educate your staff on the importance of both new patient numbers and recall visits
  • Analyze your market to determine the best opportunities to attract ideal patients who haven’t visited a dentist in the past year
  • Amp up your marketing program to consistently educate your consumers and set your practice apart as the expert consumers should turn to
  • Add call training and scoring to all of your marketing programs. We can help. Call your representative at Patient News to talk about your practice challenges and current and long-term goals.

We’ll help you get where you want to be.

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