Today I’m going to discuss the best way that I found to complete the regular patient’s hygiene appointment so that the patient schedules and keeps their next appointment, AND is also eager to bring that appointment forward should a vacancy arise.
This article is Part VI and is the final part, or piece, of a weekly series of articles that explains IN DETAIL the hygiene process that I used to transform the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient away from being considered to be “it’s only a clean”, and to be AN ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Five weeks ago I began by reviewing the important role that a dental hygienist plays in the creation of an EXPERIENCE for their patient so that the hygiene visit for your regular loyal dental patient is not simply “just a cleaning”, including the important role of the hygienist in creating a perfect platform at the start of the patient’s hygiene appointment, truly “setting the stage” for the remainder of the visit to be a World Class Experience.
Then four weeks ago I wrote about the level of trust that gets established between the hygienist and the patient during the first forty minutes of the hygiene appointment, and how with that, the subsequent time taken by the dentist to do the examination and explain treatment inside the hygiene room is significantly reduced compared to when the hygienist takes no part in any uncovering and discovery of areas of concern prior to the arrival of the dentist.
Three weeks ago I reviewed the best way for the dentist to be alerted about the hygiene exam, and how to turn that notification into a systematic, structured and discrete internal advertisement for your dental practice and your world class customer service systems.
Two weeks ago I wrote in detail about what exactly we did at the examination process for the dental hygiene patient who visited our dental office for their regular hygiene appointment, and how we transformed that process into an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Last week I wrote about the handover process between the dentist and the hygienist that occurs in the hygiene room following the dentist’s examination for the loyal regular dental hygiene patient.
Today we’re going to cover BUILDING BLOCK #5 of The Ultimate Patient Experience for the dental hygiene patient: The Ultimate Post-Appointment stage of the hygiene patient’s visit.
Following on from the Handover from the Dentist to the Hygienist.
After the dentist has completed the handover of the patient back to the dental hygienist, he then departs from the treatment room.
The patient is now left in the care of the hygienist, whose role it is now is to make sure that the patient’s “CLEAR. NEXT. STEP.” remains front of mind for them.
It is important firstly, that the hygienist clarifies with the patient exactly what they are going to have done at their next visit, and the scheduling of that next visit is what they are going to now do.
This could be as simple as saying:
“Ok then Betty. Let’s go on up the front and see Jayne and see when we can get that next visit with Dr Moffet scheduled for you.”
The hygienist could also add:
“We don’t want to let that crack get any bigger now, do we?”
to reinforce the dentist’s handover point about what will happen if we do not do the treatment NEEDED in the time frame recommended.
The hygienist then assists the patient with their appearance so that they can present their “best face” to the outside world, and also helps the patient gather up any bags, or goods, or coats or umbrellas they may have brought in with them.
Just as in the pre-appointment stage of this visit, there is a protocol for walking with the patient from the treatment room back to the front office area.
This protocol is designed to keep the patient’s next dental visit required in that FRONT OF MIND location, so that when the patient then sits down with Jayne out the front this next visit is the first thing that is organised, before any social discussions are raised.
The Front Office Handover.
The handover of the hygiene patient to the front office person by the hygienist will follow the same ten steps that all Ultimate Handovers follow.
The hygienist brings the patient into the appointment scheduler’s office and motions for Betty to sit across the desk from Jayne.
The hygienist, Emily, then stands on the same side of the desk that Betty is sitting, and then begins to speak to Jayne.
This purposeful positioning allows Jayne to alternate her attentive look [as it is needed] between the eyes of Emily and the eyes of Betty.
Emily is NOT positioned on the same side of the desk as Jayne, as this creates an intimidating two-on-one positioning that must be avoided.
Emily will include Betty in the conversation with Jayne.
So Emily would say something like this:
“Hi Jayne. Today Betty had her regular hygiene visit and I’ve already scheduled her next visit with me. Dr Moffet has done the examination today for Betty, and there are a few things that need to be done, which I have listed here for you. The first thing Betty needs doing is the upper right first molar, which has a big crack in it, and Dr Moffet wants to see Betty next week so as we can put a crown on that tooth to protect it from the crack spreading. Dr Moffet also asked that if there’s a change to our schedule, he’d like to see Betty sooner.”
During this whole conversation, Jayne is looking across to Betty at the appropriate times to receive a nod of acknowledgement from Betty about each point that Emily is saying.
Jayne is looking for understanding from Betty that she knows what treatment she is going to be having next, and when it needs to be done, and what will happen if it is not done in the time frame recommended.
Emily is also relating to Jayne that Betty wants to be called and have her appointment brought forward if there is a change in Dr Moffet’s schedule.
Once this restorative information has been conveyed to Jayne, Emily then farewells Betty by thanking her for coming in today, and thanking her for being such a great patient, and wishing her well.
Emily also mentions some future moment [of Secret Service] coming up for Betty, and if she has opportunity, Emily creates an Above and Beyond experience for Betty as well.
When Emily then leaves Jayne’s office, Jayne then goes ahead and schedules the next appointment with Betty.
After the scheduling, Jayne then processes Betty’s payment for today’s visit and then Jayne and Betty relax and visit about what’s going on in Betty’s life at the moment.
This “social visit” with Betty at the end of her visit can be as long as it needs to be.
Finally, Betty is farewelled by Jayne with the same five social steps of the Ultimate Handover [that are all about Betty].
She knows exactly when she will be returning, and she knows what treatment she will be having.
More importantly, she’s looking forward to seeing Jayne and Emily again, and she’s hoping to receive a call from Jayne to bring that next visit forward.
Betty truly has been the recipient of World Class Service and attention during her regular hygiene visit.
It has indeed been an Ultimate Patient Experience.
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