Theresa Riley discusses the importance of giving your private patients that little bit extra
Whether you’re already offering private dentistry through a mixed or fully private practice, or are thinking of taking your first tentative leap into this exciting world, one of the most important things to bear in mind in order to make it a success, is offering your patients choice.
So, where should you begin? Start by taking your dental hat off for a moment and put yourself in your patients’ shoes instead. Ask yourself this: If you were willing to pay more for a service, what would you expect in return? This goes for every industry in the world, not just dentistry. For example, if you book a holiday and select ‘club level’ at the hotel for an extra fee, you would expect some extra special touches throughout your stay, as well as access to services and areas that are not available unless you have made the upgrade. If you were greeted in the same manner as every other guest, but had paid more for luxuries that were just not there, you would be making a complaint.
A touch of luxury
The same goes for your private patients. They have taken the decision to pay that bit more and in return they expect, and deserve, a service that reflects this investment. There are a number of special additions you can add to make your private offering feel that extra bit more luxurious. For example, you could install a dedicated phone line for the private section of your business so that patients are able to get through and book appointments in an easier manner, without being held in a queue. If you have the space, a separate waiting area for private patients can be a lovely touch. If you do this, ensure that the seating is more comfortable and that patients have extra facilities to use, such as a coffee machine or a fridge full of cold drinks to choose from.
Of course, I could go on as there are plenty of little luxuries that practices can offer their private patients in order to give the dental experience a boost. By showing that the private area of your practice not only offers more treatments, but also makes a visit to the dentist a much more pleasant affair, they are more likely to choose to upgrade with you.
Treatments and services
Ultimately, when it comes to choosing whether to go for private dentistry or not, the decision will often come down to what treatments you have available. It is worth doing a regular audit of your treatment offering to ensure that you are still providing what patients want. If there is a low take up of a particular item, you need to decide whether this is simply unwanted or whether you aren’t marketing it effectively enough.
Conversely, you may not be offering the type of treatments your patients really want. In order to find out all of this vital information, the best thing to do is ask! Carry out patient feedback surveys, either through direct emails or in the practice waiting room, or just ask them at the chairside. A simple, ‘what would you like to see more or less of in our practice?’ can go a very long way. This will also make patients feel valued.
It’s all very well offering exciting treatments and having a fancy private patient lounge, but what if your patients are unsure what is best for them or whether they are able to afford it? When there are more options on the table, you need to allow enough time in your appointments to be able to fully discuss these with each individual patient, to ensure they are informed and able to make the right decision about their care. You may consider also having a treatment co-ordinator in your practice as a follow-up service to your consultation, to give private patients a chance to ask further questions away from the surgery.
The financial commitment can often be a cause for patients to delay or decline treatment, this is where offering for example a dental payment plan provides an affordable funding vehicle to bridge the gap between NHS and private care. A plan can offer patients the ability to budget for regular care and either incorporate required treatment or offer a discount to reward patient loyalty.
At Patient Plan Direct, our dental plan administration fees are the lowest of the major plan providers, which means practices that work with us are able to pass these savings on to their patients in order to offer dental plans at a very competitive rate.
If you would like to offer your patients greater choice, while boosting your private dental offering (and profits), talk to the friendly team at Patient Plan Direct about how a practice-branded dental plan could help your practice.
Patient Plan Direct offer a low cost, simple, flexible and practice-branded solution to running patient payment plans, with a focus on delivering first-class support and expert advice.
Tel: 0844 848 6888
email: [email protected] patientplandirect.com