Have you ever had a patient call to schedule an appointment and then not show up?
What about a financial arrangement with a patient, and when they arrived, they forgot the checkbook?
Has anyone ever called your office to inquire about a statement they received when they thought their insurance should have paid more?
Has your lab ever been late delivering a case?
Expecting things to always turn out the way you want them to can often lead to disappointment.
Patient expectations and how we meet (or exceed them) at every encounter is key.
From the first phone call, a new patient expects that we can accommodate their needs by scheduling an appointment. They ask about insurance. They ask if we see new patients. They ask about our hours, location, and payment plans offered.
It’s up to us to meet their expectations by helping them navigate through the new patient process.
Vs. what we expect
On the flip side, it’s our job as practice administrators to set our expectations of patients before they ever arrive at our office.
We expect them to have paperwork completed. We expect that they arrive on time. And we expect that they are prepared to pay for the services we’re providing.
If we do not communicate our expectations, they will often not follow through with all, or even part of, our expected process, it could disrupt our workflow completely.
Communication is key to having our expectations met. The exchange of messages should continue throughout our entire relationship with a patient.
If you’re a start-up practice or one that’s been around for many years, the communication remains the same. And that can be said for the patient as well.
They must communicate with us in order for their expectation to be met. Not meeting a patient’s expectations can be disastrous. They may give us a bad review. They may tell their referral source. Or, they may never come into our office again.
Just like with any good relationship, open communication will help both the patient and the dental office meet each other’s expectations.
Set clear patient expectations
Let’s avoid disappointment for our patients and practices by setting clear expectations from the beginning. Plan to communicate what you expect of them and what they can, in turn, expect of us from the first interaction. That way, we can build relationships that last a lifetime.
Meet the Author
Valarie Caulfield, FAADOM, has been a member of The American Association of Dental Office Management since 2012. She has been involved in dental office administration for 35 years.
Her passion for the profession comes from those dentists who have believed in continuing education. They graciously gave her the tools, technology, motivation, and encouragement to never stop learning.
Valarie and her husband Ed have been married for 35 years and live in Spokane Valley, WA.