How Do Patients Decide Which Clinic and Dentist to Go to?
When people choose their dentists, they consider a variety of factors. Dental insurance affects their choice greatly since they receive more coverage from dentists that are in-network for their insurance plans. Based on Futuredontics’ November 2016 research, “What Dental Patients Want,” the infographic from 1-800-DENTIST, “dentistry’s premier patient referral program,” states that “59% of patients only want in-network providers” and “42% of patients will find a new dentist if you stop taking their insurance plan.” Although dental insurance greatly affects their choices, patients also consider other factors. Dental offices should know about them in order to be aware of what their patients want.
Patients could consider the dentists’ educational background and expertise as well as the clinics’ technology. Though, 1-800-DENTIST’s infographic states, “82% of patients say their choice of dentist is ‘highly influenced’ by the practice’s online reputation” and “[patients] believe reviews are ‘more important’ than where their dentist attended school.” Even so, Dr. Cristin Dowd recommends that patients should check the dentists’ qualifications and credentials, such as their education and special training, because these reflect their genuine concern for their patients’ oral health (2017). Dowd also states that memberships in “[national], state, and local dental associations are a good sign that a dentist is a true expert at what they do, and that they are part of the dental care community” (2017). Additionally, the type of technology in a clinic influences patients’ decisions since 1-800-DENTIST states, “1 in 5 patients say the use of advanced dental technology to provide ‘better, faster service’ is important to them’” and “44% of high earning patients ages 45-54 want dentists with advanced technology treatment options.” While online reviews strongly influence patients’ decisions, advertising the dentists’ credentials and clinics’ technology could help dental offices attract new patients.
Additionally, the clinics’ staff must create a good experience for their patients. Fred Joyal, “CEO and cofounder of 1-800-DENTIST,” states, “Technology and training matter both from a clinical standpoint and a marketing one. But it’s the experience you give your patients while they’re in the office that’s most important” (2010). To create an amicable environment, clinics should employ friendly employees that “focus on the patient relationships first and the insurance second” (Dental Group Practice Association; Hatch 2016). Staff members could develop relationships with them by conversing with them and asking them questions about themselves, for example (Lupoli 2016). If patients have a good experience at the clinics, patients may write great online reviews and recommend these clinics to other people. Fortunately, according to 1-800-DENTIST, “82% of patients ask for referrals from family, friends when looking for a dentist” and “[people] are 4 times more likely to remain a customer when referred by a friend.”
Insurance is not the only factor when patients choose their dental clinics. Patients may consider the dentists’ qualifications and the clinics’ technology. Their experiences in the clinics would also affect their decision. Dental offices need to be aware of these factors in order to attract new patients and keep them.