The health-based practice is back in vogue; prevention and health preservation is once again the aim of patients, practices, and the Government. However, what we’re not so good at as a profession is proving how we care for patients’ health. Check out our top tips below to make your efforts clear and your practice more attractive to patients.
1. Use the word ‘health’
Encourage your team to use the word ‘health’ as often as possible and to talk about good dental health being the aim of everything the practice does. Better still, include the word ‘health’ in your practice promotions or even include it in your practice name, e.g. Smith’s Dental Health.
2. Make health the focus of your plan
Our health plan is all about getting and keeping you in good dental health. It covers the essential appointments you need to keep you healthy.
What we know is that patients who join our health plan attend more regularly for dental health exams and hygiene visits, so they tend to stay healthier and need less treatment than those who don’t”.
You could do audit-matched groups of patients so you are able to prove the experience in your practice. Although most health care plans are set up to be better value than private care for your patients, don’t ever forget that there may be more patients who value the health benefits as much as they value the cost benefits!
3. Dental health exams
Always refer to your regular exams as ‘dental health exams’ and list the checks you complete and report on. A ‘16-point dental health exam’ sounds so much bigger, broader and in depth than a check-up, therefore worthy of a higher fee.
4. Dental health reports
Consider introducing a ‘dental health report’ after every dental health exam. This could be a short tick box card with a red, amber and green status for each of the 16 areas checked, or a form off your computer system. This underlines to patients just how many structures of the mouth are checked every time they attend for their dental health exam. They also love getting their ratings; especially when family members can compete with each other for the best rating!
5. Hygiene is important
Work hard to promote hygiene programmes, including monitoring how you talk about the importance of hygiene appointments and home care regimes. For most patients, it will be how they respond to hygiene advice that will ultimately determine how healthy their mouths will be.
6. Make health a central part of each treatment
Make sure everyone is encouraged to achieve a healthy mouth before any treatment; treatment is more likely to be successful if a mouth is healthy in the first place. Also, ensure patients promise to keep mouths healthy after treatment in order to preserve the treatment too! Tell patients that the purpose of any restorative treatment is ‘to restore the mouth to health’ and that you will be working hard to make sure the treatment is provided to make your patient’s mouth as healthy as possible.
7. Plan your plan levels
Make sure your plan includes a banding that allows for multiple hygiene visits. Patients are more likely to keep to regular appointment intervals if their plan includes all their hygiene visits, and of course, you can tell them that it is the hygiene visits that will help keep them healthier.
8. Promote health
Gather the team together and devise some inspiring promotions. Your internal newsletter or social media promotions can celebrate and encourage health and health skills. Consider hosting events or visits to local communities, groups, schools and businesses to spread the word on how to look after dental health. Promote a dental health charitable organisation – and don’t forget to keep your local press informed about your efforts!
9. Set up a shop
Do set up your in-practice sales like a business within a business. Brand your in-practice shop. Price yourself competitively and then tell everyone that you have done so. Indulge in all the types of offers you see in the local supermarkets (BOGOF, multipacks, etc.). Put prices on your displays and compare them to local supermarket prices if you can too! Provide little user-guide cards, and explain on the shelves what the value of each item is. Tell patients that the aim of the shop is to encourage everyone to buy quality items, and use them to get healthier!
10. Train and involve the whole team
Make sure everyone understands the health messages, promotions, communications and protocols. Plan and implement strategies, communications and promotions together. Don’t let anyone drop the baton and revisit how to explain about each part of the health message regularly. It’s easy to get stale but it takes a little practise to maintain excitement!