One of the key elements needed to become an active LifeGuard for your patients is to develop relationships with your patients. Their health is impacted by what happens outside of the dental office, so it's up to you to discover more about who they are and what they do in their everyday lives.
Building this relationship is critical as it not only allows you to learn more about them, their lives, and their everyday challenges, it is foundational to creating a safe space of communication. Within this space, your patient is more likely to reveal information that can help you identify underlying issues and spot potential health threats.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH PERSONAL TOUCHES AND EXPERIENCES
One way you can help to foster a relationship with your patients is by creating an atmosphere that makes them feel important. No one wants to feel like just a number, so from the moment they enter the front door, make them feel welcomed.
Here are a few simple ways to let them know they are important:
Greet each patient by name if possible. You can take photos of your patients during their initial visits. At the start of each day, the reception team can review the photos of the patients coming in --- this way, they will be prepared to greet each patient in a more personal and genuine manner when they arrive.
Create a welcoming atmosphere in the waiting room. By offering fast and free wifi, having a television or music playing softly, and options such as water bottles or activities for children available, you can create a more relaxing environment for patients.
Keep your patients updated on any delays or status changes. This ongoing dialog shows them that their time is important and that you haven't forgotten about them.
Review personal notes before your patient is brought into the room. By reviewing any personal notes beforehand, you'll be able to engage in a conversation with the patient while looking at them instead of your notes. This will make them feel important, help to strengthen your relationship with your patient, and give you the opportunity to watch your patient speak, breathe, and move about. Being able to watch your patient in a natural manner will give you the chance to spot potential breathing or non-dental medical issues.
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH TRUE ENGAGEMENT AND FOCUS
One of the biggest ways to build your relationship with your patients and practice being a LifeGuard™ is through your engagement and focus during the patient's visit. It's important for patients to feel comfortable and connected to you. The more comfortable and relaxed they feel, the more likely they are to reveal information that could lead to catching potential health issues.
Give yourself time each visit to just talk with your patients about their everyday lives. While they might not think it's important or relevant to why they are there, it can help you to get to know them and provide you insight into behaviors that could be impacting their health. This will often also help to put patients with anxiety at ease.
Once your exam or treatment is complete, allow time for the patient to ask questions. Instead of standing up to leave or rolling your chair towards the door, stay where you are and maintain a posture of relaxation. Give your patient time to think and ask you everything she needs to ask.
Giving your patient this unfiltered focused attention will make them feel important and safe ---- and helps to foster your relationship with them. The more comfortable they feel the more open and honest their questions will be. And the more open and honest their questions, the better opportunity you'll have to be the LifeGuard™ they need.
TAKE THE LIFEGUARD™ CHALLENGE
Then show us on social media by declaring yourself a LifeGuard for your patients and use the hashtag #thelifeguardchallenge.