While the landscape for dentistry has changed considerably since I started in the industry some 25 years ago, one thing has remained the same - our patients need to know we will look after them.
But as you know the meaning of ‘looking after them’ has evolved greatly over the past few years. The fundamental principles of customer care remain the same, appointments running to time, good clinical care. But that role has developed to ensure we have patients empowered to make their own care decisions and that includes how they can fund their private care.
And that’s absolutely right. Let me explain.evitably hinges on finances. Can the patient afford the treatment they want? Or, a better way to look at it, is the patient aware of how they might access the treatment they want? Especially with the current tight cost-of-living pressures.
Practice staff are the lifeblood that runs through the patient’s journey. They are the first practice voice the patient hears and the welcoming face as they walk through your door. They are the professional with whom the patient can often most resonate with and most able to explore their concerns.
A natural part of the patient journey, and one where practice staff play a huge part, is being able to offer patients all of the options to fund their care including accessible monthly payments.
Those who don’t are not just missing out on business, they are also missing out on helping that patient get the care they need.
Yes, you could argue that of course I would say that having worked in dental finance for so many years. But at Chrysalis Finance, we work with over 3,000 Chrysalis-accredited dental clinics and private medical treatment providers. We talk with thousands of patients and practice staff every year to understand how we can improve as a finance provider and the message is clear. Empowering your staff to fully inform patients on aspects of care such as the availability of finance options makes a significant difference to their health.
As the UK’s largest patient payment solutions company, we hear feedback from patients and practices highlighting how a desire to maintain cash in the bank is influencing people’s care decisions. Choosing a finance option for treatment rather than using their cash funds is becoming increasingly common and an option of choice for private patients seeking a whole range of treatments from tooth whitening and tooth straightening through to dental implants and smile makeovers.
As we see from research and feedback to our team, many patients are still leaving practices with dental concerns not thinking about raising them at the moment of treatment. With a seemingly innocuous question from staff inquiring about a patient’s wellbeing, we know those patients have the opportunity to stop, reflect and seek guidance.
For some, they may think further treatment is beyond their means but with that simple staff interaction, they can leave the practice with the facts - cost of treatment, funding options and most importantly, an informed way forward. Where staff are asking questions and introducing finance options to patients, we are seeing those options often taken up, after all paying monthly is becoming increasingly popular. As such, treatments proceed which would otherwise have been left for another day.
Members of staff should not see their conversation as being ‘salesy’. Yes, the practice will benefit from the increased treatment, although the greater benefit will be with the patient who will have arranged the treatment they needed and wanted, but possibly thought was beyond them.
Our 2022 Chrysalis Finance Patient Care Awards were a timely reminder of the incredible work delivered in practices across the country. Our awards each year seek to recognise those team members who make a positive and long-lasting difference in setting and achieving high standards of patient satisfaction.
We know some practices still have a way to go before they can embed a truly empowering culture, but it can be done. To help those practices, we provide on-going training in addition to working with industry known partners offering free sessions to look at how we can support staff more effectively, in their day-to-day job.
We are also keen to hear from new practices who want to work with us to make their clinic ‘the best’ so, if that applies to your practice, we look forward to hearing from you.