Ravat and Ray Bradford won Best Patient Care North East and Pont Steffan Dental Practice won Best Patient Care Wales at The Dentistry Awards 2016. Here, they both share their top tips to offering the best service to their patients.

Ravat and Ray Bradford – Best Patient Care North East

Dentistry magazine (DM): How does Ravat and Ray Bradford maintain great patient care?

Ravat and Ray (RR): At Ravat and Ray we remind ourselves daily on the importance of patients being the centre of our thinking, and a quote attributed to Gandhi in 1890 is written large on our staff room wall: ‘A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.’

It is easy to forget this when patients turn up late for their appointment, or decline the planned work you thought was agreed previously.

Patient care is so much more than good dental treatment, and we have found that on NHS Choices, the Friends and Family Test or other feedback methods, these ‘other’ things are what patients comment upon.

DM: What are your top tips to providing the best patient care?

RR:

1. Personalised post-its. During the preliminary history and examination, we all uncover a wealth of personal information about the patient, and inevitably they will mention the family pet, forthcoming holiday, or names of their grandchildren. We often forget about the information they share with the reception team before they have even seen you. Instead of the clinical team adding a ‘post-it’ note to the clinical record, encourage reception to jot notes down too. If would be really helpful to know a patient was particularly worried about taking their dentures out in front of anyone…

2. Understanding the patient-centred perspective. A simple questionnaire given to new patients after they have checked in at reception encouraging to give you their top three wishes for their smile allows you to frame your discussions and treatment plan against their needs. Sometimes our findings might directly conflict with their needs, but at least we know that these key areas must be fully uncovered and explored in a particularly sensitive manner before treatment commences.

3. You said – we did. Our practices have a display board centred on patient feedback. We receive a wealth of formal and informal feedback that all of our teams are asked to capture. Our patients are giving us unrivalled free advice on how we can improve our services. Even complaints can lead to service improvements. Make sure you tell patients who take the time and effort to feedback what you have done as a result of their feedback, or explain why it may not have been possible to accede to their suggestions. This in turn will lead to even more feedback and your service just keeps getting better!

Pont Steffan Dental Practice – Best Patient Care Wales

DM: What promise do you make to your patients?

Pont Steffan (PS): As a team, we treat all of our patients as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Our evidence based approach, centred in preventative dentistry, encompasses modern technology and practices, where the needs of the patient are at the forefront of everything we do.

Prioritising patient care with an empathetic mind-set is embedded into the culture, vision and ethos of the practice and going ‘the extra mile’ for our patients forms part of the ‘everyday’.

DM: What are your top tips to providing the best patient care?

PS:

1. Listening – giving patients the forums needed to voice opinions/suggestions/concerns (face to face conversations, feedback forms, surveys – to name a few that we do) and honouring these methods with the courtesy of giving the patients time to express their views and being listened to. We took our patients suggestions of a bigger reception area seriously enough to purchase the next door property and expand!

2. Responding – empathising, responding and never being afraid of making changes. Meeting and exceeding patient’s expectations leads to patients referring us to other people, resulting in us having exceptional levels of new patient growth each month

3. Being unique – the best patient care comes from being able to adapt to individual situations to meet patient needs. An example of this at Pont Steffan is reflected in the Ceredigion Language Charter for business that was awarded to the practice. Supporting the Welsh language in different formats enables patients whose first language is Welsh feel comfortable and well-cared for during a time when they may feel anxious or vulnerable

4. Continually improving – identifying areas of opportunity for improvement, and having a continuous improvement strategy. A need identified at Pont Steffan Dental Practice was that of the role of a treatment co-ordinator. One of our dental nurses was keen to progress in her career and this means our patients benefit from having someone to help them on their treatment journey and the practice has someone to smoothly co-ordinate the diary management, liaise with dental professionals and be a central point for communication.