Reasons Why You Never See Emergency Patients Again

June 15, 2016

Most dental practices see emergency patients as a nuisance. Not only do they bring chaos to your day, you typically never hear from them again. You do your best to get them out of pain as quickly as possible, but the extra stress they cause doesn’t do much to grow your bottom line.

If that’s how your practice views emergency patients, it’s no wonder they never come back. Emergency patients can tell when they’re not wanted, and they’ll notice the negative vibe from the moment they call your office.

The truth is, you should look at emergency patients as an opportunity for growth. Emergency patients who have a positive experience at your practice are much more likely to book a comprehensive exam before they leave. In fact, according to the industry standard, 80% of all emergency patients you see should be converted into comprehensive exams. Is this not happening at your practice? You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to increase production.

If you want to start converting emergency patients into loyal patients, you’re going to need to make some changes. Here are three (3) reasons emergency patients don’t come back and how you can convince them to make your practice their dental home.

1. They don’t feel welcome
Your team members should put emergency patients at ease from the time they call until they leave the practice. Remember, these patients are likely panicked and in pain, and just want to know you can help.

If the team member who answers the phone sighs and tells the patient that although the doctor is very busy, she’ll see if she can find an opening in the schedule, it makes that patient feel like an unwanted disruption

Instead of making these patients feel like a nuisance, greet them with a warm welcome. Let them know your practice can help. Develop a script so team members know exactly what to say to emergency patients and the importance of maintaining a caring tone and collecting the necessary information before they hang up the phone.

Continue to make these patients feel welcome when they arrive. Train team members to greet them with a smile and to do what they can to put them at ease. Help them fill out forms if necessary and take them to a quiet room to wait for the doctor. Let them know how long it will be before they can see the dentist and then reassure them they’re in great hands.

2. You don’t educate them
Most practices don’t spend a lot of time with emergency patients. They want to get them in and out as quickly as possible so they can go about the rest of their day. Not exactly a great way to connect with these patients or to make them want to continue to turn to your practice for their dental care.

Take the time to educate these patients about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Talk to them about their oral health goals and concerns and find out why they haven’t been going to the dentist. Let them know about the services you offer and how you can help them meet their goals. Once they understand the value of dentistry and the services you provide, they’ll be much more likely to schedule a comprehensive exam before they leave.

3. You never follow up
Even if they’ve already scheduled a comprehensive exam, follow up with every emergency patient. Call them to see how they’re doing and if they have any more questions you can answer. I also suggest mailing them a packet of information about the practice. To add a personalized touch, include a handwritten note. Tell them you’re looking forward to their next visit and to call or visit your website if they have any questions.

Emergency patients represent a great opportunity for growth and should never be viewed as a disruption. Make sure your team members understand the importance of emergency patients and how creating an exceptional experience can help turn them into loyal patients growing your patient base and your bottom line.