Trust is one of the foundations of quality dental care. It facilitates open and honest communication, effective treatment, and better patient outcomes. When patients come to your office, they’re often nervous and feeling somewhat vulnerable. By fostering and cultivating a trusting and open environment, you’ll leave them freer to open up and give them a better overall experience while in your care.
Building trust with patients doesn’t happen immediately or as the result of a single action or step. Rather it’s a process, and one that in part occurs before the patient finds themselves in your chair. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some strategies and techniques for building trust with patients, and how they can improve your practice as a whole.
The first step happens before the patient visits. Your office has a personality, and that personality needs to be open and welcoming. Your decor, your website, and your social media presence should all project a mood that is relaxed and welcoming yet efficient and professional. This can be a fine line to walk, so engaging some outside help for marketing and website design might be the right thing to do. Your first impression is vital in building trust with patients–particularly new patients–so don’t overlook it!
The next step involves both first impressions and patient interaction. With new patients, humanizing yourself and your staff is important in building trust. It’s as simple as introducing yourself to the patient the way you would any new professional contact. Tell them your name, where you’re from and where you went to school, what led you to dentistry as a profession, and perhaps a bit more. Ask them some questions about themselves; make it a conversation. It takes a bit more time but it fosters the sense of trust and connection that is so vital to quality dental care. If you build some rapport with a new patient, they’ll be more likely to trust you, listen to your advice, and augment the quality of their own care. By connecting with each patient and treating them as the individuals they are, you’ll build trust and improve their outcomes.
Our third step in building trust with patients unfolds over the course of their experience with you. Open, two-way communication is a must for quality dental care, and it’s up to you to take the lead and ensure that it happens. In addition to being open and friendly, you’ll want to keep patients fully informed at every stage of their treatment. Let them know what’s going to happen and why it needs to happen, in other words. Show them their teeth in x-ray or imaging form and explain what’s going on, even if it’s all good news. An informed patient is more likely to trust you, and more likely to open up about their needs and concerns.
Building upon that, our final step is to elicit patient questions and input. Help them understand that you’re here to provide the best care that you can and ensure that their smile looks its best. Let them know that they can ask questions–and that there are no stupid questions–and that you want to hear them. Ask them if they have any concerns, or if there’s anything going on with their health that you need to know about. Sometimes people just need a little encouragement to open up, so make sure you provide it!
We hope this offers some new insights as to the importance of building trust with patients, and the methods and strategies you might use to do so. Your practice is an important place in their lives, and the care you provide improves their overall health. By building trust, you’ll be able to improve all of the above, in ways that might surprise you both.