It is hard to believe that in this day and age patients are still extremely uninformed about dental treatment. It is up to the dentist and team to make sure patients are educated not only on the procedures that are needed but on the practice’s protocol. In order to do this successfully, the entire team needs to be on the same page.
The initial phone call from a potential patient is extremely important and should be handled in such a way that the person on the phone receives your undivided attention. Many offices already tell new patients part of the protocol by stating the details of a Comprehensive Evaluation and X-Rays and that they should arrive 10-15 minutes early for their appointment to fill out some paperwork, unless completed before. How many offices explain that it is their policy to provide two business days’ notice if the patient needs to make a change in their scheduled appointment or that payment in full is expected at the time service is rendered?
Don’t assume because you have a sign in your reception area or something is posted on your website that you don’t need to state how you do things in your office to the patient. Patient’s need to hear the rules directly from you when scheduling an appointment, going over financial arrangements, etc. Patients of record will look at a sign and figure it is meant for everyone else because they are under a “grandfather clause” and if you wanted them to do something, you would have told them directly. Everyone else, i.e. the new patients think that the sign does not apply to them because you would have notified them over the phone when they were scheduling the appointment. Anytime you change or create a protocol make sure that every patient, existing or new, that walks through the door is personally made aware of the protocol.
Believe it or not, patients will do whatever you ask; you just have to tell them what the rules are ahead of time! Properly informing and educating patients increases case acceptance, enhances the quality of time spent with the patient and minimizes collections and practice liability.