Episode 79 – Foundational Pillars of Success: #3 The Patient Journey

How does that make the patient feel? Think about your practice and the things that cause patient’s stress. Anything you can do to remove that stress improves the patient journey. Today, we’re talking about how you and your team can give your patients a platinum experience that makes them feel like they’ve come to the right place.


Hi, this is Dr. Bruce Baird with the Productive Dentist Podcast and we’re talking about some of the foundational pillars of success for a dental practice. And in the past, in the past few weeks, we’ve talked about team engagement. We’ve talked about philosophy of care. And today I’d like to talk about the patient journey map. And what does that mean in in my thought process. 

When I think about the patient’s journey, it’s, it’s something that it’s more about them and not about me. And what I mean by that is, you know, years ago, I remember somebody say, be the patient, walk in, Look at, look at your business, look at your practice, look at, you know, look at all those things. And I and, and I know that Victoria and I have talked about a productive dentist Academy, and we’re teaching that in our business foundations course. But it’s it’s something that a lot of people haven’t really, really considered or thought about on their own. But I literally first step is I walk through my office, and from the front, as if I was a patient,

I go to the back, I’ve sit down in a chair, I look around, I sit down in multiple chairs in the office, and I’m, and I’m looking and I’m listening to the sounds of the office. as a patient. years ago, I said, Well, you know, I didn’t want people laughing in my office. Well, that was my problem. As a patient, I really want to hear people enjoying themselves. I want to hear people, I want to hear great chatter, I want to hear happy voices and happy people. 

You know, and those are the things that I’m thinking of as a patient. Once I’ve done that, then I step back, and I think about what stress points have I had? And when I say have I had have I had to deal with from a patient’s perspective. So a patient said, Well, I have a given example I have a I have an appointment card that says I’m supposed to be here at 10. You know, and then you hear the front desk saying, Well, you know, I’m sorry, if you’ll come back, we had you down at 11. Well, as a patient, how am I feeling? Well, I’m feeling that the office did something, did something wrong? I mean, I have the card. It’s not my problem as a patient. That’s your problem as a practice. And these are the things that we don’t often get to hear. 

We don’t, you know, RL hear it where a patient thought their appointment was at nine o’clock in the morning, and they show up. And my my, my team will say, and without saying anything to me, they’ll say, I’m sorry, we have you at 11. If you could just come back at 11. Well, how does that make me feel as a patient. And again, I step back into the patient shoes. And when I do that, sometimes it’s a breakdown in our system. Sometimes it’s a breakdown in our team communication. And it also goes back to philosophy of care. I mean, what type and we want to have this high end type practice, or we want to have, you know, whatever it is, but I don’t think we want to have those things happening to us.

 And so what i what i want to instill in my employees is into my team is that if somebody does come in, and there is a problem with an appointment time or schedule, now if they’ve done this five times in a row, then you know, it may be something that they have a problem with when I say they the patient has a problem with but for the most part, I want to handle those issues immediately. Meaning I want the team to come back and talk to me or talk to my my team. I want my front office to come back and talk to my team and say this patient has come in and they thought their problem was 11 but it’s at nine. Now if I’m in a surgery. 

You know I don’t We’ll actually have, and with one assistant or one treatment coordinator, I might have summer, go up front and talk to the patient say, I am so sorry. And it you know, because whoever made that appointment, because remember, we make our appointments in the back. And so if there’s an issue, I just want it to be handled, to the patient satisfaction. Same thing where summer might, you know, we have a federal judge that that we work on, and he likes to come in, like at 740. In the morning, before I’m usually there and aid, summer says, That’s no problem. 

Let’s get you in your 740. And then she tells me, you know, because I know, I want to make sure that, you know, he’s seen and, and that’s the best time for him. So I’ll come in early that the few times that I have to see that patient. But when we talk about that journey map of the patient, it’s from the time they walk into the business and how they’re greeted to any sticky points that happen during that and how can we get this patient? How can we give them Platinum service and platinum service is that service that you want to give, above and beyond. So the little small things that happen, we want to handle those. 

And we want to do that through communication. My team knows that if somebody comes in and thought there’s appointment 11, and it’s I thought it was going to be at nine and 11. And they show up at nine o’clock, there’s an excellent chance that I’m going to make room for him. And I’m going to see them down. And I’m saying I’m so sorry, we had that that issue. And you know, that happens every once in a while and my team reevaluate what they did. And how did this How did this happen?

 Did somebody move in appointment. And so we are always trying to reduce stress in the business, which is obviously critical in this in this journey. The other thing is, comes down to me in my new patient experience, which we’ve talked about the new patient experience. But remember, I’m not just walking in on a new patient and saying, how’s it going, I’m not walking in with any patient, and just saying what to smother you. I walk in first, if it’s a patient of record, I’ve already reviewed their chart, I’ve reviewed their relationship chart, which is just in the note section that we write all the things about them that we talk about, from one appointment to the next. So when I walk in, for instance, in a hygiene check, I’m going in I’m saying Bob, how are you, buddy? Good to see how is the cruise? You know, man? Where did you guys go again? And or I may already know. So how was Greece? How was whatever. 

And so I start talking to him. I said Now how did you go through what you know, I’m gonna ask questions of interest. Because what does that do for this patient’s journey? this patient’s journey becomes cemented that they love coming to us. They love coming to see us because we care about them. The same thing with a patient that’s just regular restorative care that I’ve been saying, I’m going to bring up when I first walk in and Okay, let’s open up. No, that’s not what I’m going to do. What I’m going to do is I’m going to say, you know, what have you been up to? Maybe I don’t have any notes in there. 

So what do you what are you getting up to lately, I haven’t seen you in about a month or two. And we’ll start talking and it becomes that conversation that only really takes, I don’t know, two or three minutes to read, instill that feeling for the patient in their journey through my practice, it just re instills that they’re in the right place. And the same thing happens for the new patient, the new patient, you know, we’ve we’ve gone through the new patient exam. And I’m always going to go through the process of saying, so how long have you lived in Granbury? or How long have you lived in Texas? Or? Or, you know, how did you hear about our office? 

You know, these are the things that begin the conversation of caring, and those caring questions, you can ask a caring question, but as my wife reminds me, it has to do with your tone. And it has to do with your body language. And so when I ask a caring question, I can’t be saying so. So how are you living granberry and looking over my shoulder and looking at my watch, or, you know, looking at the schedule behind the patient’s head. What I have to do is I have to engage the patient, one on one eye to eye and really let them know from my tone that I’m interested. Let them know from my body language and the way that I speak that I’m very interested in their answers. 

And I’ve said this I don’t know hundred times but you know, when I see productivity go down in the office, I don’t look at, oh, we need to do more crowns or I don’t need to diagnose more, or my team needs to do a better job in hygiene, I don’t do that. I go back and reevaluate my own situation and what am I? How am I talking to the patient? Do I have that caring? attitude? Am I am I? And do I remember the people I saw this week. And if I do, productivity goes up. And that’s something that is just absolutely critical when you’re talking, talking about this patient journey map. Because as the patient goes through at every step of the way, I know, you know, a great example, and in Victoria talks about it in the course, but you know, she, she signed up with a, with a new telephone carrier with a with a mobile phone carrier. And she signed her two kids up. Actually, she’d been with the carrier, but then she signed her two kids up on her plan. And the first bill came in, and it was like 750 bucks. And she calls and she’s like, freaking out. Remember, this is a patient. Now. She’s the patient. And the way they responded was extremely important.

And what they did, they understood there was a mistake. And what they did is they they came out and they said, you know, you probably probably should have put you on the unlimited plan when you added the kids. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to move you to the unlimited plan, and we’re going to take away those charges. Well, how did that make her feel? You know, it’s a one time situation. But it made all the difference in the world into how she feels about that carrier. You know, whether it be spectrum or horizon, or whoever it is, it is it made all the difference. 

Think about your own practice. And think about the things that you do that cause patients stress. And anything that you can do to alleviate that stress is going to be something that’s going to cement them in your business. Sometimes, again, that that is just the acknowledgement that you made a mistake. You know, I’ve had it before, when a patient came in, and they didn’t, we didn’t have their lab case. And of course, in my view, that is my team’s fault. But I am going to throw myself under the bus. In those cases, sometimes I’ll just go up and I’ll talk to him. I said, Bob, I am so sorry. Or Mary, I’m so sorry. The lab case was supposed to be here this morning at nine o’clock. We checked on it. 

And it’s not here. And I do not know what the issue is. But I will tell you this. I I’m gonna, you know, apologize. And they’ll say usually 99% says, Oh, no, no, that’s fine. I understand. But every once while you know, they’ll say, Well, I took off work today to do this. I said, I know I’m so sorry. What I’m going to do is, next time you come in, I’m going to take care of your cleaning costs for you. And all of that you’re not your next appointment won’t have any costs. As far as your you’re in hygiene. And I take care of that. So these are the little things that you can do to make people know, and this patient journey map, you want to make sure and we’re going to talk about that more. We have our business foundations course that’s with productive dentist Academy. 

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