Patients’ Funniest Excuses

Classic Patient Excuses for Missing Dentist Appointments

We did a survey asking dentists about the funniest excuses they’ve heard from patients for missing appointments. The clear winner was the toothache defense: “My tooth hurts too bad to get out of bed.”

Other highlights include, “My windshield wipers aren’t working and it might rain,” “I had to go shopping for my daughter’s bat mitzvah dress,” and “I went a movie instead.”

Here were a few more classics from dentists:

  • “A model doing a photo shoot said she was bitten by a lion. A cop was involved in a shoot out.” (New York endodontist)
  • “The patient was in jail!” (Virginia dental office worker)
  • “One patient wanted to know if his insurance would cover the broken appointment fee!” (General dentist)
  • “We always document patients’ excuses when missing an appointment. Sometimes the same grandparent passes away unexpectedly two or three times in the same year!!” (Texas dentist)
  • “‘I have a hangnail.’ Also, ‘My dog has diarrhea.'” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “‘The goats got loose!'” (Maryland pediatric dentist)
  • “‘My dog ate my appointment card.'” (Arizona dentist)

Have more excuses to share? Post them here! Plus, check out the full results

Dentist & Dental Patient Romance (video)

One dentist in five reports having been romantically involved with a patient, found this survey.

“Totally inappropriate,” declared a dental hygienist.

“Dating patients doesn’t work unless you marry them,” declared one dentist. “After you have dated a patient, and it doesn’t work out, you lose the patient and a good source of referrals. My advice: No matter how right it seems, don’t date a patient!”

“I became romantically involved with some patients when I was single, young and foolish,” recalled a dental implant dentist.

“I married one 51 years ago and am still married to her,” offered another dentist.

Read more: Dentists and Patient Romance

Convincing the Cosmetic Patient

Aesthetic consultant Catherine Maley Successful Aesthetic Patient Consultations
By Catherine Maley, MBA

It’s imperative to know what your patients want, what they think about you and your staff, and how to set expectations for the greatest amount of patient satisfaction. So I decided to research aesthetic patient consumers personally to learn, first-hand, what they were looking for when searching for an office and physician to perform cosmetic enhancements.

Know Your Target Patient

The 75 aesthetic patients I interviewed had had both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The median age was 44 years old. Respondents were 97% were female and were located throughout the US.

My objective was to determine trends and commonalities. Here are some of my findings:

  • The main reason both genders were considering cosmetic procedures was to feel better about themselves and improve their looks.
  • 90% of the time, confidence in the physician’s ability and staff interaction were more important than price.
  • 86% of them referred at least two other people to that practice.
  • 40% researched their procedure on the Internet ahead of time so they felt well-informed.
  • 75% went for multiple consultations before making a decision.
  • 80% felt they knew what to expect from having watched Extreme Makeover, Dr. 90210 and live surgeries and treatments on TV.
  • Long waiting times were a recurring complaint .

Variation Among Aesthetic Patients

While the data was interesting, it was also apparent that I could not generalize about patient relations. This is especially true as pertains to people’s preferences; everybody is so different and their perceptions are so varied. For example:

  • While some thought an aesthetically gorgeous office indicated pride and success, others found it was over the top and intimidating.
  • While some thought the doctors did not spend enough time with them and felt rushed, other patients thought too much time with the doctor made them wonder why the doctor wasn’t busier.
  • While some thought the physician thoroughly explained the various procedures available, others felt oversold and confused with so many options presented to them at one time.

The Deciding Factor

Probing further, I asked patients the bottom-line question: why did they choose that particular physician over the others?

The consistent answer, over and over, was that the aesthetic patient felt a “connection” with that physician. Their “gut feeling” or intuition was telling them this was the right physician for them. They had developed rapport. They trusted that particular physician to understand them and give them the best possible result.

Aesthetic patientsCatherine Maley, MBA, is the author of Your Aesthetic Practice: A Complete Guide: What Your Patients Are Saying. As a speaker and consultant, she helps doctors market themselves to cosmetic patients. For free tips, resources and strategies, visit Cosmetic Image Marketing or give Catherine a call at (877) 339-8833.

Don’t You Steal My Dental Patients!

Dentists Complain of Dental Patient Stealing

In our most recent survey, nearly half of dentists reported that they had had problems with “patient-stealing” by associate dentists or employees who had left their practice.Dental Survey Results

“Every GP associate I’ve had has attempted to (and probably succeeded at) stealing patients. It’s like inviting someone into your home, then finding your silverware is missing after they leave,” complained a California dentist.

Another dentist described a true horror story. “I had a Financial Coordinator for only 5 weeks, and it was after she left I realized how much damage she did. Every patient she scheduled never showed up. When we called one patient, he said that he had gone to another dental office for treatment. She had been calling my patients from her cell phone and diverting them to her previous employer.

Post your comments or read the complete dental patient stealing survey results

Dental Patient Marketing a Top Priority for Dentist’s New Facility

How Do You Fill a New Facility with Patients? New Patient Marketing

Though construction is nearly complete, the financial work just goes on and on. Dr. Sparaga’s wife Kathy is continuously crunching numbers for the bank, for the governmental guaranteeing agencies (USDA), and for the insurance companies. “It seems endless,” explains the doctor, “and it’s constantly evolving with changes in equipment pricing and cost overruns in the project.”

Building Machias Dental
It all comes down to this: the new facility
[click to enlarge]

It’s unfortunate but not terribly surprising that the project has run over budget. Given that, the Sparagas are holding the line on items like trash compactors, garden pavers, and piezosurgery equipment.

However, they are increasing their marketing to create booking pressure sufficient to supply patients for two dentists. After analyzing their advertising budget, the Sparagas decided to change their strategy a little bit. For the moment, they will reallocate their television funds to additional radio and direct mail in extended geographic areas. (They intend to develop new TV ads within a year.)

I asked Dr. Sparaga about the reasons behind this marketing switch.

“We’ve found that the initial penetration of a geographic area is best served with radio, followed by direct mail and finally TV,” he told me. “Television is too expensive to introduce ourselves. However, when it’s applied after the initial invasion of other media, TV has worked to validate what the public has been hearing and reading about.

“The biggest cases we’ve done have been strongly influenced by TV validation,” he added.

Want to catch up on this story? Here’s what the Sparagas have been doing…


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