Dental Patients Will Travel To See Their Dentist (video)

Dental patients travel for dentist treatmentThe average dental patient travels about 5-10 miles to see their dentist for treatment, we found in this survey of dentists. Rural patients travel longer distances for dental care than do urban residents.

However, some patients keep their dentist even after moving hundreds – sometimes thousands – of miles away.

“I’m a specialist," said one periodontist, "so we have quite a few patients from the coast, which is 90 miles away."

Agreed a dental implant dentist, "Many of our patients travel up to 4 hours by car for their treatment." An orthodontist seconded this, saying, "I have had a few patients who have travelled 150 miles one way to come to my office." 

"Including the guy who comes from Palm Beach?" asked a New York oral surgeon. "Not enough patients come from far away!"

Maybe it's New York… “I have both an active local clientele and an international clientele,” boasted a prosthodontist from that state.

Read more about this dental management issue: Dental Patient Travel Distance: Dentist Survey Results

Dental Marketing: Negative Online Review Appears as a Facebook Page

negative dental page on FacebookIn the past The Wealthy Dentist has written about negative online reviews in such articles as Appeals Court Says Yes to Dentist Lawsuit Against Patient for Online Review andWhen a Dentist’s Relationship Goes Bad on the Internet — both stories about harmful dental critiques posted on review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List.

But in August of this year, Chris Cook of Bakersfield, CA, pushed negative online reviews to a new level.

It was reported in dental news site DrBicuspid.com that Mr.  Cook took his 5-year-old son to see Bakersfield pediatric dentist Edward Dove, DDS, for a tooth extraction. Mr. Cook claims Dr. Dove mistreated his son during that visit by extracting a tooth before the child was adequately sedated.

According to DrBiCuspid.com, Cook stated that his son vomited up most of the sedative, screamed, and urinated on himself while allegedly being held down by three dental assistants during the procedure.  Allegations Dr. Dove vehemently denies.

Chris Cook decided to take matters into his own hands and created the “I Hate Dr. Dove of Bakersfield” page on Facebook, attracting more than 200 members in its first 48 hours.

Luckily for Dr. Dove, Facebook does have a policy for pages with the word “hate” and considers them in strict violation of their terms of service.  They swiftly moved to shut down the dental hate page.

Cook was undaunted by the Facebook boot, turned around and created a second Facebook group page, “Bakersfield dentist DOES NOT ROCK!!!!!!!!!” which is still up and active.

Dr. Dove has handled the situation by defending his treatment in the press and pointing to his 23 years in practice without a single disciplinary action. He has chosen not to engage with Chris Cook on his Facebook page, and was quoted in Dr Bicuspid as saying, “I think my reputation will be hurt a little bit, but right now I just want to calm down,” Dr. Dove said, “This guy is going ballistic, he’s trying to smear me, and I’m getting bullied.”

But should Dr. Dove be more concerned?

Just how significant are bad reviews for the future of your dental practice?

A new survey by market analysis firm Cone, Inc., found that four out of five consumers have reversed purchase decisions based on negative reviews found on the Internet. Another survey by Ratepoint found that 40 percent of consumers indicated they are more likely to consider a local business when they respond to a negative online review.

In the case of a Facebook page being dedicated to hating a dental practice, a dentist has little recourse since the unhappy page creator would have to allow the dentist to join the group page in order to issue a response.

Dentists have had little luck in defamation lawsuits when it comes to negative online reviews since the courts tend to look upon unhappy reviews as free speech. In a recent defamation case in California, a dentist has been ordered to pay $80,000 in attorney fees to the parents who posted a negative online review.

So how do you combat something like a negative Facebook page?

By making sure your dental practice has more than one website that appears on the top pages of Google when your business (and personal) name is searched online. Also have your own Facebook page, or pages for each type of treatment you offer. Have a Twitter page and make sure your practice is listed in as many dental directories as you can find. The idea is to control what appears on the first page of Google about your dental practice. Regular press releases help with this too.

For solutions to multiple name search and directory listing go to: www.InternetDentalAlliance.com.

For more on this story see: Facebook Pulls Plug on Angry Dad’s Antidentist Page

Dentists Comment on Economic Outlook (Video)

Dental practice marketing with internet videoThe recession hit most Americans pretty hard – and dentists are no exception.

Reduced consumer spending was financially challenging for lots of dental practices.

Finally, the economy seems to be improving.

But not every dentist is convinced that we’ve recovered yet.

“The recession is over for everything but large cosmetic dentistry cases,” said an Illinois dentist.

“I’ve had patients put off fillings, crowns and routine cleanings, examinations, and radiographs because they had to pay their mortgage, car payment and utility bills instead,” said another Illinois dentist.

We conducted a survey asking dentists if they feel like the recession is over at their dental practices.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss what dentists think about the economic outlook:

For 56% of dentists in this survey, conducted in 2012, the recession is still going strong. But it’s getting better – when we asked the same question in 2010, 78% thought the recession was still in full swing.

Dentists are particularly aware of consumer spending patterns.

“I’m seeing an improvement in the number of new patients, but they’re still not buying big cases for the most part,” said a Nevada dentist.

“My practice is doing well, but what about my real estate and the cost of gas? I appreciate the practice situation, but it’s only part of the puzzle,” said a California dentist.

“It won’t be over for at least another 5-10 years. It seems like since the recession the rules of etiquette and professionalism are out the door. Dentists bad-mouth other doctors in the same town much more than they used to before the recession,” said a general dentist.

“We didn’t go through a downturn because we quickly assumed that a ‘New Normal’ was in place and adapted to it. This meant becoming even more patient-centered in terms of economics, i.e., being insurance friendly, doing treatment in phases, offering many financial options, doing build-ups instead of crowns. The office philosophy became ‘keep ‘em in the practice’ in 2009, and it stays that way today,” said a New York dentist.

In a tough economy, that’s a great philosophy to have.

The best way to be successful is to adapt to your circumstances.

Dentist Hours: Many Stay Open into the Evening

Dentist schedules: 55% are open lateJust over half (55%) of practices offer evening hours, and 37% let patients make weekend appointments, this survey found. Mondays are the busiest day of the week for 1 in 3 practices.

Many dental practices are closed on Fridays. “On Friday, if the weather was nice, patients always cancelled,” said one dentist. “We work Tuesday evenings instead. The staff and I love 3-day weekends. Nice quality of life. I highly recommend it.”

But for some, the economic reality is a harsh wake-up. “With the new economy, I will need to start opening on Fridays and take what I can get,” said another dentist. “Going broke in Alaska!”

If a patients wants or needs evening and weekend hours… and you don’t offer them… then that patient will find a dentist who does.

Here are some comments from dentists:

  • “Early morning hours are good.” (Connecticut dentist)
  • “Patients like afternoon hours.” (Athens Greece dentist)
  • “Evenings are popular.” (Maryland pediatric dentist)
  • “Saturday morning and early afternoon appointments are very popular with our patient population.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “Friday is a highly productive day because I see only high production cases without all of the small procedures interrupting my case.”

Read more – Dentist Schedules: Time Management Meets Dental Management

Dental Management Survey: How Do You Handle Missed Appointments?

Charging for missed dental apointmentsWhen patients miss appointments, it affects dental practice revenue.

If it happens too often, it can turn into a dental practice management nightmare.

“In this day and age with e-mail, texting, cell phones, answering machines, Smile Reminders, etc., etc. There is no excuse for people to not show up for their dental or medical appointments or call to let the offices know they are running late or can’t make it. Its just pure laziness or lack of common courtesy.” Ohio prosthodontist

There are practice management tactics dentists can use to keep this problem from getting out of hand and ruining their practice. But do dentists use them?

In this dental survey, we report on how dentists handle patients who don’t show up.

Fees for missing dental appointments

When asked if they charge patients for missed appointments, 67% of our survey respondents said Yes – 28% charge a fee after the second missed appointment; 39% after the third miss.

One-third of our surveyed dentists said they don’t charge a penalty fee at all.

Chart: Do dentists charge for missed appointments?

Dentists charged patients between $25 and $100 for missing an appointment, with a $50 fee the most common.

“Our policy is a $50.00 no show charge after your 3rd no show appointment. We have done this only a few times. In the past when we tried it our patients threw a fit and a lot of times the charge was removed. How do we know if patient has a real emergency or creates an excuse? We try to emphasis that these are important appointments.” Missouri dentist

“We tried have chronic offenders pay a $50 booking fee before scheduling, this would be applied to the day’s fees or forfeited if the patient failed to show up. However the front desk staff was not consistent in enforcing it ON THE SAME PATIENT!!!” North Carolina dentist

Letting go of patients who miss too many dental appointments

Dentists don’t like to lose patients, under any circumstance.

But 68% of dentists in our survey said they will ‘fire’ patients who miss too many appointment: 5% after a patient misses 2 appointments; 37% after 3 misses; and 26% only after 4 or more misses.

Some dentists said they will never ‘fire’ a patient (5%), and 27% said it rarely, if ever, happens.

Chart: Do dentists 'fire' patients who miss appointments?

“Try to dismiss patient after 2 no-shows, but the situation can vary depending on the particular relationship of the patient with the practice.” Canadian dentist

“I’d really love to find something that works– While most of our patients come regularly, it seems that in the past years, it is more challenging to keep patients compliant with appointments. If we charge, we just get patients mad and they leave with the charge on the books.” California dentist

“Although I don’t charge or fire patients for missed appointments it seems to be a repeating problem and I lose a lot of potential income; and the time can never be recouped.” Texas pediatric dentist

Here are a few dental management policy recommendations that are working:

“We try to figure out what’s getting in the way of their keeping [appointments], and if problems continue, we either put them on a “quick call” list, have them financially guarantee a reserved appt, or dismiss them.” New Hampshire dentist

“It is difficult to collect missed appointment fees. We just give them 3 chances and then will not make another appointment unless there is one available the day they call. If they miss one of those, they are fired for good.” Texas dentist

“If you charge them, they will walk rather than pay. So for unreliable patients, demand a “deposit” before putting them on the books. Tell them they will forfeit it if they miss, and have to pay another deposit. I have never had a patient miss an appointment when they had a $75 deposit on the line.” Georgia general dentist

“A missed appointment cannot be rescheduled within 2 weeks of the rescheduling call. This serves as a reminder that missing an appointment does affect other people besides the patient, allows time to schedule other patients in more convenient time slots and serves as a minor ‘penalty’ for missed appointments. If a patient misses 2-3 appointments, they are not permitted to schedule further than 1 day in advance to limit the amount of forgetting appointments. Patients missing further appointments are dismissed from the practice at the doctor’s discretion.” Indiana dentist

“We charge the people that we want to leave the practice.” Minnesota dentist

What’s your dental practice management policy for patients who miss appointments?

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