Patient Journey Design

Patient journey design places a focus on people; your people, your patients and on helping dental practices and clinics grow and build their business through systemising every process that your patient interacts in. Using the principles of Service Design there are five stages within any business, and I help you to create systems within these stages to create the best patient experience and one that optimises care, service and business results.

Awareness Stage

Are you known? What are you known for? What is your reputation? What do you want to be known for? What do you need to develop? Do you have a marketing plan? Is it outsourced or is it an internal business process? How do you measure it? Marketing can be mind-boggling and you could outsource aspects of it if it’s an area you can’t commit to learning, but regardless of how you do it two main objectives you need to achieve are that you are trustworthy and that you solve a problem that they have, or you offer something they desire. Your people ideally should be involved in marketing your business.

Pre-Joining Phase

How are calls handled? What details are collected? What vital information should be passed to the clinical team? What about e-mail or social media enquiries? Do you have a system to prioritise treatments and patients? Do you have information to help new patients to be excited to visit you? There is so much detailing of the business team person’s role and finer detailing will enable you to have excellent processes that connect to the clinical aspect of the patient experience. Ultimately, it is ideal to have the business team so well-rehearsed in every scenario that the clinical team only focus on clinical aspects of care.

Joining Phase

How do you prepare for this Very Important Patient? Have you walked in their shoes? What do you know about this person other than their name and medical history? Do you know chief concerns? Do you know who referred them? It’s time to roll out the red carpet and have a good conversation with this person who has selected you to care for them. Communication and listening are vital; when patients are truly heard, they feel more comfortable and are more open to listening to your recommendations and it is essential to build trust. Delivering a new patient consultation is both a skill and art and once you master that and have the business structure to enable it you will see a transformation in your case acceptance.

Using Phase

How do you communicate your treatment recommendations? How do you validate that the treatment they received was excellent? How do you keep raising the bar to make them feel special? How do you handle any complaints? How do you retain these patients? How do you follow up on optimum treatment plans that the patient declined or postponed at the beginning? What systems do you have in place to enable this follow up? Do you have a process to thank patients who refer new patients to you? A new patient will spend more initially but the long-term patient trusts you more and therefore are in fact simpler to recommend treatment to. Your job as a business is to ensure that the existing patients receive the same care as a new patient and keep raising the bar! These patients are your ambassadors and will very often recommend their friends and family to you.

Leaving Phase

Do you have a process for when a patient leaves you? Do you have a way of following up on patients you haven’t seen for a while? Do you make them welcome to come back or do you just make them inactive on your patient software? It’s a process that most businesses don’t think of but it’s an important one to have in place so that you accept they are moving but that they are welcome back. People sometimes feel awkward going back to a business they have left and the biggest service you can do for them and your business is to make sure they know they are welcome back anytime. They are more likely to speak positively about you and should they be underserved elsewhere they will feel comfortable returning to see you.

Do you need your team improved?

Vision, goals, people, processes and promotion skills equal a business that grows from helping your patients receive the best treatment.