The Patient-Centric Office: Without Them There Would Be No Us


The Patient-Centric Office: Without Them There Would Be No Us

Dr. Paul Uliasz, President & Clinical Director

What is a patient-centric office?

A patient-centric dental office is a practice in which all team members, including the dentists and hygienists, view the patient’s benefit as their highest priority. This is the mindset you see in any successful consumer-driven business. We understand that we are here for our patients. If we have no patients, we have no dental practice. All our decisions are based on what is best for our patients. Not what is easiest for us. Not how to get the most profit from each patient.

Don’t all practices have to be patient-centric to attract patients?

When a dental practice is brand new, it is easy to keep everyone in the office focused on exceeding patient expectations. In a start-up practice, all team members are keenly aware that a patient base must be built. One critical strategy is generating return patients and referrals. With that goal in mind, it is easy to keep the team focused on going above and beyond to satisfy patients.

If the team is successful, the practice will reach the point of having an established patient base and a consistently full schedule two weeks ahead. At this point, the practice enters the danger zone where so many practices lose focus on patient-centricity.

How do practices lose sight of being patient-centric?

After the patient base is established, the dentists may become overly confident and complacent. They may decide to reduce practice ours, closing on Fridays and sometimes even on Thursdays. Their vacations and holiday closings may become longer, creating longer gaps in their availability to patients. The result is patient inconvenience in scheduling around excessive closings. More importantly when the practice is closed, it cannot be there for a patient with emergent need for care. Every patient emergency a practice misses is an opportunity to lose a patient to the competitor who is available to relieve that patient’s pain or problem.

Complacency can drive decision-making that benefits the team but prevents them from exceeding patient expectations. Dentists may stop doing procedures they dislike, opting instead to refer them out. Insurances that are more labor intensive to deal with may be dropped. Certain challenging patient types may no longer be welcomed. When decision-making shifts to what is easiest for the team, the mentality of the practice has shifted from patient-centered to self-centered. The business has ceased to be consumer driven. Some patients, often the most desirable patients, will pick up on this shift in attitude and seek out a more patient-centric provider.

How to maintain a patient-centric mindset

At Blue Sea Dental practices, we try to maintain that start-up mentality. We remind ourselves and each other to be patient-centric. We continue to ask,

“What do our patients demand from a dental practice today?”

How can we extend ourselves to exceed patient expectations so they will continue to be loyal to our practice?”

We never forget that the patients we see every day are the best resource for staying on top of ways in which we can meet and exceed their highest expectations for a dental practice. We let our patients know that we want and appreciate their feedback. We are always working towards the goal of making dental care as easy and affordable as possible. When our patients express a concern, we listen. When our patients express an unmet need, we listen.

At Blue Sea Dental, being patient-centric means making dental care convenient. We offer extended hours, including evenings and Saturdays, so we fit into the patient’s schedule, not the other way around. We do not want our patients to feel they have to take time out of their workday in order to get dental care. We are respectful of our patients’ time; we keep wait times to a minimum and move visits along efficiently.

Being patient-centric means putting dental care within reach of as many patients as possible. We do this by keeping our prices affordable. We offer financing programs, payment plans, and a membership program for those with no dental insurance. We work with our patients to determine an appropriate treatment plan that works for their budget. We never pressure our patients to take on more than they can afford at the time or make them feel embarrassed about their financial situation.

Being patient-centric means offering the best care and being there when patients need us. We use the latest technology and the best quality materials. We offer as many procedures as possible under one roof minimizing the need for specialist referrals. We offer same-day emergency visits to current and new patients alike. When a patient is in pain, we make room in the schedule to see them so they can get relief. If we discover a patient needs treatment and they want it that same day, we make room in the schedule to do it. We are quite willing to work through lunch or stay late to accommodate our patients or help them out when they are in pain.

At Blue Sea Dental practices, we work hard to prevent complacency from setting in. We have a mindset of trying to do better every day. Each of us approaches our patients with the same mentality – we treat them exactly the way we would want to be treated ourselves. Ours is an attitude of gratitude which we strive to show our patients every day. Our goal is for every patient to know that they are important to us, that we are there for them, and that we genuinely appreciate them choosing our practice. The patient-centric focus is maintained by never forgetting that our patients ARE our practice and without them we’d have no purpose.