What Do Failed Dental Practices Have In Common?

What Do Failed Dental Practices Have In Common? A Trust Vacuum.

Like the crumbling foundation in the video above, without a solid foundation of patient trust and peace-of-mind, a dental practice is doomed.

Dramatic?  Maybe, but...

Trust is at the very core of everything you do to serve your patients every single day in the dental office.  No trust means no new patients, no acceptance, no treatment, no returning patients, no referrals, and pretty soon, no practice!

If, according to Harvard management professor Peter Drucker“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer,” then trust is the glue that holds the whole process together.

The Academic Research. A Trust Vacuum Causes:

1. Low Treatment Acceptance

“...lack of trust in [the dentist-patient relationship] may erode confidence in the dentist and in the dental profession, leading to limitations in meeting patient needs and expectations.” (1)

2. Patient Anxiety and Fear of You, Their Dentist

“...confidence helps reduce patient anxiety and fear of dental procedures.”  (2)

3. Failure to Return Regularly for Treatment

“A person’s confidence in a dentist determines whether that patient will regularly seek healthcare.”  (3)

So What Are You Up Against?

Dentists are the 5th most trusted professional (Nurses, Pharmacists, Medical Doctors, and Engineers are 1 through 4, respectively) in the United States.  (4)

However, more than 1 in 3 people (38%) believe that most dentists are not ethical and likely to be dishonest or opportunistic.  (5)

Every year or so, negative press stirs the pot. Most recently, the documentary “Dollars and Dentists” criticized both private and corporate practices for unethical behavior. 92% of dentists believe that documentaries such as these contribute to less patient trust in their dentist.  (6)

20% of patient Americans visit the dentist only when absolutely necessary due to fear. 5 to 8% experience enough anxiety to stay away from the dentist entirely. Two thirds of these patients blame a previous bad experience for their fears.  (7)

It's clear that lack of trust is a deal killer.

The Good News! When You Fill The Trust Vacuum With Peace-of-Mind...

  1. It’s easier to get new patients
  2. Patients accept your treatment recommendations easier
  3. Less cancellations, no-shows, and postponed treatment
  4. More repeat patients
  5. More referrals
  6. Higher overall satisfaction with you, your team, and treatment

So What / Now What?

If you are having issues with patients accepting treatment, cancellations and no-shows, or a lack of referrals and repeat patients, it's time to improve your trust strategy.

Consider investigating Dental Warranty as a tool to help you build trust with your patients.  Here are some more articles you might find interesting:

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Steven J. Anderson: What's Your Guarantee?


9 Ways Dentists Use A Warranty To Grow Their Practice



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(1) Price J and L Leaver. (2002). ABC of psychological medicine: Beginning treatment. BMJ. 325:33-5.

(2) Awad M.A. et al. (2000). Determinants of patients’ treatment preferences. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 28:119-25.

(3) O’Malley AS, et al. (2004). The role of trust in use of preventive services. Prev Med. 38:777-85

(4) Gallup Poll: Honest/Ethics in Professions. www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx

(5) Gallup Poll: Honest/Ethics in Professions. www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx

(6) Gerber B, et al. (1992). How dentists see themselves, their profession, and the Public. J Am Dent Assoc. 123:72-8.

(7) Peter Milgrom DDS, Director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic, University of Washington Seattle

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