One of the most challenging calls for a dental team is from a patient in discomfort. If your schedule is busy, you may be stretched to find an opening for the patient. In addition, patients in need sometimes let their discomfort spill over into how they communicate, and this can make the conversation somewhat stressful.
However, emergency patients also present opportunities. Consider a time when you were in discomfort and how much it meant when you received the care you needed, especially when you felt someone when above and beyond to help. Your dental patients are the same.
You start by going above and beyond by handling emergency phone calls with patience and professionalism no matter how challenging the patient in need is during the conversation. When patients know you are doing everything possible to work them into the schedule, most greatly appreciate you efforts. Often emergency patients calm down a level or two because of your demeanor and help.
Being able to address dental needs in a timely manner creates opportunities for referrals. Patients are more likely to tell their friends and family about you after receiving much-needed help. If your practice is like most, you will find that some of your best referring patients started out as an emergency, most likely on a busy day when you stretched yourself to accommodate their needs.
Also, consider the level of trust you build when you help out a patient in need. This trust increases the likelihood of the patient scheduling for recommended treatment and recall intervals. Remember that more patients than you may imagine have some level of fear when going to the dentist—which is why some patients wait until an emergency arises to visit your practice. Building trust helps minimize this fear. Emergencies give you the opportunity to guide patients to proactive care.
The next time you receive a call from a patient in need keep in mind how important your help is to that person. Go above and beyond whenever possible and your efforts will not go unnoticed.