Most dentists love seeing new patients, and for good reason. New patients represent new possibilities. In many cases, they haven’t seen a dentist in awhile and are maybe coming in because of a specific concern, which means they are often more open to hearing your diagnosis and treatment suggestions. And because you have no history with them, a new patient visit is an opportunity to start the relationship in the right way, by providing a comprehensive experience that establishes the right mindsets and expectations.
But there is another reason to love new patients, and that is that they represent the first line of change in the dental practice. As you grow clinically, and as your practice philosophy evolves, you have to find ways to use these new ideas to re-energize the team and the patient base. And new patient visits are the perfect place to start, because you get to present your vision of what great dental care means to a uniquely receptive audience: patients who are ready to hear about their needs and ready to hear what you and your practice are all about. This is where new standards in the practice first take hold.
So how do you get that energy to move beyond new patients and into the rest of the patient base? First of all, by focusing intensely on value creation with new patients, you are going to find that a lot of the habits you and the team develop during these visits are going to naturally carry over into the way you interact with all patients.
The other way is more direct: simply turn existing patients into new patients. By that I mean, make it a point for patients to have a comprehensive re-evaluation exam every five years. Really amplify the importance of establishing a new baseline as their oral health changes, your clinical skills evolve, and new advances in techniques and materials develop.
By bringing that “new patient energy” to these exams, your existing patients can emerge with a new context for thinking about dentistry and re-enter the continuum of care in the practice with a fresh understanding of what it means to be your patient.
(Click this link to read more dental practice management articles by Imtiaz Manji.)