What does it mean to deliver patient-centric care?

18 June 2024

Loven Ganeswaran discusses how a high-quality experience can improve profitability.

Patient-centric care is the future of dentistry. It’s also why patients keep coming back to the same practice time and time again. As the shift away from NHS dental services and towards private care continues, it is becoming increasingly important to create an excellent patient experience during every visit.

The importance of the patient experience

How a patient feels about their dental team and practice will have a far-reaching impact for them, their dental provider and the wider healthcare system. For a start, a positive patient experience has been associated with improved compliance with healthcare recommendations and therefore better clinical outcomes. This also stands individuals in good stead for the future, enhancing their understanding of and appreciation for preventive measures. This means that patient-centric care can lead to higher standards of oral health across the nation.

In addition to supporting patient’s oral health in the long-term, a high-quality experience in the practice will also benefit the business. Happy patients will be more loyal to the clinic and are therefore far more likely to return time and time again, boosting business profitability and sustainability. This is further optimised by the impact that satisfied patients have on the reputation of the practice, attracting new patients to the business from within the local community.

What affects patient perceptions?

There are many aspects that affect the dental patient experience. The most obvious is the physical environment in which patients receive care. For instance, the atmospherics within the practice will influence patient emotions and, as such, should be considered carefully.

Colour psychology should be employed to encourage perceptions of a clean, calming and friendly practice, eliciting the right emotions from patients. Steps should also be taken to ensure a physically comfortable space that accommodates at least basic needs, like drinking water, a bathroom and adequate space in the waiting room.

But the patient experience is impacted by much more than the colour of the walls and the comfort of the chairs. The entire dental team plays an important role in creating a truly serene, inclusive and caring atmosphere.

For example, one study found that patients valued having a supportive and caring dental team above all else. They felt this helped them maintain a higher level of control over their oral health. It was also shown to lead to greater changes in oral hygiene behaviours, enhancing patient engagement with their daily routines.

The quality of communication between dentist and patient has also been highlighted as key to patient satisfaction. Research suggests that dynamic communication is crucial, allowing a two-way conversation to optimise patient interaction and understanding. This contributes significantly to patient autonomy and enables individuals to be more involved in the decision-making process regarding dental treatment – something that most patients desire.

Making a positive difference

Achieving this means ensuring transparency with every patient and taking steps to improve their understanding of both their oral health status and any proposed treatments. This is crucial to building trust and managing patient expectations to increase their satisfaction with the results achieved.

Even when describing what you may deem to be simple procedures, patients still need to be able to visualise what will be done and why. Delivering this procedural insight in a way that patients understand is not only a GDC requirement, but it will also contribute significantly to their satisfaction and experience. By giving patients this higher level of control, practitioners are also likely to see an increase in treatment acceptance for a boost in productivity, efficiency and profitability too.

How can all this be done within the normal constraints of a dental appointment? With help from cutting-edge technology, of course. Chairsyde, the innovative consultation platform, streamlines patient communication and engagement for an enhanced patient experience. It offers an array of animations that clearly explain oral health conditions and related treatments, including their benefits, risks and limitations, and automatically sends a copy of any videos shown in practice for patients to browse in their own time. This ensures fully informed patients and enhanced consent. It also encourages patients to engage with their oral health and actively participate in the decision-making process.

The future of dentistry

Most in the field will agree that patient-centred care is the future of dentistry. It provides a way of better engaging with patients and encouraging them to take responsibility for their health. With ongoing education and a supportive environment, dental teams can help more patients improve their dental health for many years to come.

References available on request.