It’s a fact of life in dental practices that you need to collect data from new patients. It’s also a fact of life that nobody really enjoys sitting and filling out forms.

So why make patients go through a pile of paperwork alone, especially if there is a way that actually increases the value of the information you get and also make patients feel better about your practice?

First of all, take a good look at the forms you use and ask yourself, “Do I really need all this information?” A lot of practices use off-the-shelf forms that are sold as being “comprehensive” but what that often means is that they ask every possible question. Decide what you really need to know and edit accordingly.

Also, instead of abandoning the patient to the clipboard and pencil, why not use this as an opportunity to get to know them on a personal level. Have a treatment coordinator sit down with them and guide them through the forms (already pre-filled with the basic information you know about the patient) as they are filling them out, providing context, explaining why the information is needed, and answering any questions that arise.

This way, you also get to ask some important questions that are easier to ask in natural conversation, rather than on a form. Which of these numbers is best to reach you? Can we use your cell phone number to text with you appointment information? Are there certain times you can’t make it to our office? When you do this right, as part of an interview process, you can learn a lot more about a patient than you can from just reading their completed paperwork.

And they learn something important about you. They learn that you deliver on your promise that you will care about every detail of their experience and will be clear about everything that happens to them in the practice, every step of the way. This is how you set yourself apart as a practice that really is different.