23 Feb How do you improve the patient journey in a dental practice?
The term ‘patient journey’ can become meaningless. Often the phrase is over used and misunderstood and therefore as a team it is important that you regularly take time out to really think about what the ‘patient journey’ is and how you can improve it. If you need any encouraging to do this, then just take a look at the long list of business casualties that made big promises but failed to deliver what their customers wanted, despite their best efforts.
Whether the current and popular phrase ‘patient journey’ is just another trend or not, only time will tell. After all, what did we call the process of looking after our patients, helping them, explaining things and generally doing what is implied by the care in ‘dental healthcare’ before it became labelled as a journey?
Perhaps I am being a touch cynical about the latest crop of buzz words that describe the processes that are grounded in what our old fashioned family GP’s would have recognised as good bedside manner. Sure, technology will always move on but the duty of care to the public and the reciprocal ability to recognise being cared for, will no doubt remain time honoured.
But if we are going to think in terms of ‘journeys’ with our patients, then let’s get serious about it. To get the patient journey consistently right will require many things. The most overlooked success factor is recruiting and retaining the right type of people, people that you can expect your patients to want to share a journey with. Get that right (as we always used to say, ‘recruit for talent and train skills’) and in my experience the wheels are already moving in the right direction. Remember though that the thing about a journey is that you will need to know a few things in order to feel safe, particularly when somebody else is driving;
• Why are we on this journey?
• Where are we going?
• How will we get there?
• What and where are the stops along the way?
• How much will it cost?
• Have you been there before and is it any good?
Your team will generally know what it means to care for something and if you have attracted and retained the right type of people, they will know how to care for your patients. Remember though that this is dental healthcare, and whatever journey you and your team share with your patients, each is unique and special. Unlike others and unique to dentistry, it is important to remember that your ‘passengers’ are to some degree anxious and sceptical, perhaps in physical or emotional pain, and they would prefer you not to be upselling them stuff, whilst you peer at them over the top of a mask.