You’ve heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Well, the same is true in dentistry. Today, patients are the driving force behind many of the changes, improvements, and innovations being implemented within your future dental practice. Patients are informed consumers, and they have unparalleled access to information that is guiding decisions they make regarding their oral health.
At this point in your career, you recognize dentists are caregivers and small business owners. To run a successful practice, dentists must take note of patient behaviors in order to respond in kind. For example, consumers are showing a desire for greater convenience and comfort in their office visits, and dental professionals are making it easier for them to get just that. Responding to patients is one important way to keep the chairs full in your future practice.
Courtesy of Dr. Jere Gillan’s recent webinar on the subject, here’s how the consumerization of healthcare is reshaping and continuously affecting dentistry today:
The Modern Healthcare Consumer
Healthcare consumers have certain expectations and values that they hold dear when it comes to the dental care that they receive. Convenience and consistency are at the top of their list, through things like short waiting times, online appointment scheduling, and entertainment for children that helps to create a welcome, safe practice environment. Demands like these are driving consumer purchases and healthcare choices. More so, dental consumers are looking online when shopping for a provider. Online marketing and positive feedback and patient reviews are increasingly imperative to running a successful practice.
New Practice Models
The dental practice has traditionally been less flexible and less supportive of a patient’s preference for convenience. In recent years many practices, such as those in the dental service organization model, have been emerging with new ways to satisfy customer’s needs. With flexible hours, after-hour staffing, and a more “urgent care” approach to dentistry, these models are becoming the new face of dentistry. These models and other thriving practices stress efficiency and providing comprehensive care for their patients.
How Other Professions Have Adapted
Medicine, ophthalmic, and pharmaceutical industries have already embraced the large group practice model, and dentistry is not too far behind. With the rise of retail clinics in places like CVS and Walmart, healthcare consumers have become increasingly comfortable with access that is faster, more convenient, and affordable. Why the large jump? Well, many of these clinics welcome walk-ins, are open 7 days a week, and accept multiple forms of insurance. Overall, they offer a flexible method for patients to receive care, and are visited by millions of people annually.
If you’re interested in learning more about how dental consumers are affecting the profession, take a moment to watch the archived Gillan webcast. Whether you’re considering associateship in a traditional practice or large group environment, it outlines many interesting consumer trends that are continuing to shape dentistry.