Why People Choose Your Dental Practice (Part 1)

January 22, 2021 North Shetter DDS

In a world where the profession of dentistry is facing commoditization with the development of Dental Service Organizations (DSO’s) and large group practices, those of us committed to private, fee-for-service, comprehensive care are facing increased competition. Over many years in practice, I have observed why people choose us and what we can do to foster this even more.

Our Competitors

  1. DSOs and multi-location groups are on the top of all our minds, as their centralized business services and approach to higher volume scheduling allow them to be profitable while offering extremely low-cost new patient exams and reduced fees for restorative services.
  2. “One-tooth dentistry” dentists in private practice are also a form of competition as they seem to be lower cost to consumers since they only treat “the problem” rather than looking at the whole person.
  3. Smartphones compete for attention. With the entire world’s knowledge lodged in our smartphone, we now find the average attention span in America has shrunk to a meager 9 seconds! Now we are in a world of TMI (Too Much Information) where a less than a 5-star review might eliminate your office from consideration even though it has no bearing on your professional skills.
  4. Nonstop digital advertising for all kinds of desirable goods and services constantly competes for patient dollars.

The Reputation of Private, Fee-for-Service, Comprehensive Care Dentists

It is interesting to note that, throughout the current Covid-19 pandemic people, have continued to visit their dentist. What have we been doing right?

We have a reputation for:

  1. Being sanitary.
  2. Following proper safety protocols.
  3. Being trustworthy.
  4. Treating people with genuine interest, respect, kindness, and thoroughness — one person at a time.

Your Approach to Patient Engagement Is Special

To continue growing our restorative practices with new patients who need and desire our type of comprehensive care, we need to create an environment of mutual engagement between our office and our clients. This is not a “paint by numbers” exercise. Each dentist and care team must create and commit to a philosophy that fits their core values and style. The way you engage with your patients is “special” to you.

Your philosophy of care distinguishes you and allows you to stand out in the marketplace. When your actions are consistently guided by your ideals, patients know it. They value it. They refer other like-minded patients to you. Your special behavioral foundation is why they come to you.

4 Tips for Building an Environment of Optimal Patient Engagement

To execute on this philosophy, we need to build a behavioral foundation that promotes alignment with our team, commitment to excellence, ample time with patients, and mutual respect. Here are some tips that have guided many private practices focused on individualized, fee-for-service, comprehensive dental care.

  1. Doctor, start by engaging and educating your team to be the best that they can be by modeling the behavior you want to see in them. Commit to high quality Continuing Education for you and your staff. Join a study club and associate with like-minded members of your profession.
  2. Engage your new patients with a patient-centered experience from first contact onward. Make a special effort to create a first visit that includes time for becoming acquainted with one another on the behavioral level and more time for a true comprehensive exam.
  3. Make sure that your patient understands that you respect them as “the expert” in choosing what outcome is right for them at this moment in time.
  4. Make sure your patient understands that your office is “the clinical expert” at determining the various outcomes that are available based on the:
  • Situation they are bringing to you,
  • Findings of your exam,
  • Technology available, and
  • Time and dollars they choose to spend.

More tips will follow next in Part 2.

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About Author

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North Shetter DDS

Dr Shetter attended the University of Detroit Mercy where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1972. He then entered the U. S. Army and provided dental care at Ft Bragg, NC for the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. In late 1975 he and his wife Jan moved to Menominee, MI and began private practice. He now is the senior doctor in a three doctor small group practice. Dr. Shetter has studied extensively at the Pankey Institute, been co-director of a Seattle Study Club branch in Green Bay WI where he has been a mentor to several dental offices. He has been a speaker for the Seattle Study Club. He has postgraduate training in orthodontics, implant restorative procedures, sedation and sleep disordered breathing. His practice is focused on fee for service, outcomes based dentistry. Marina Cove Consulting LLC is his effort to help other dentists discover emotional and economic success and deliver the highest standard of care they are capable of.

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On Providing a Fix vs an Experience: Part 3

July 13, 2018 Will Kelly DMD

There are three words on my business card that may seem obscure to patients at first. These words, which come to have important meaning later on in their relationship with my dental practice, are: Comprehensive, Restorative, and Esthetic.

Promising and Delivering a Luxury Patient Experience

Comprehensive

We look at the patient as a whole. We observe and diagnose globally. We intend to partner with our patients in a thorough individualized manner. The best dentistry does not happen when we just look at a tooth with a problem. In fact, it isn’t much better when a dentist has a look at ‘teeth’ plural.

Comprehensive dentistry considers the whole system and the individual. How are the muscles and joints that affect and are affected by the teeth and their use considered? How are the structures that support the teeth?

What are the factors unique to a patient’s habits, routines, and systemic health that relate to ideal dental health? What are a patient’s individual goals, desires, and expectations? Will the dentist take everything they can gather about the causes of problems and consider them in the solutions?

The list goes on. This is a highly intentional paradigm of patient care.

Restorative

The focus on restorative dentistry is just as it sounds. In our practice, we want to restore patients to an ideal state of health and function. We put tremendous effort toward continuing education, technology, and our approach to care beyond the average dental setting to achieve this ability.

Esthetic

Esthetic dentistry speaks to taking great care in the art and science of making dentistry beautiful. Yes, it is a nose thumbing at the overused term “Cosmetic Dentistry.”

We believe all good dental restoration is more beautiful if provided in the context of health and function. At the end of the day, we want to create smiles our patients can be proud of because they are beautiful, healthy, and durable.

We all have things we value enough to invest in. We all make choices that take effort because we want the result, just like my car that I enjoy and is reliable. I invite patients to consider that experience with their teeth through the approach of ‘Comprehensive, Esthetic, Restorative’ dentistry.

What do you do in your dental practice to make dental care a valued experience for patients?

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Dr. Will Kelly attended the North Carolina State University School of Design and received a BA in Communications. He went on to spend two additional years in post baccalaureate studies in Medical Sciences at both UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Kelly graduated from the top ranked UNC School of Dentistry in 2004. His good hands and clinical abilities led to his being chosen as a teaching assistant to underclassmen in operative dentistry. In addition to clinical time in the dental school, Dr. Kelly had valuable experiences working in both the Durham VA Hospital and for the Indian Health Service in Wyoming. As a child, Dr. Kelly had the opportunity to assist his father on several dental mission trips in Haiti. After completing dental school, Dr. Kelly joined his father in private practice and served on the dental staff at Gaston Family Health Services, where he maintained a position on the board of directors. At this time Dr. Kelly also began his studies in advanced dentistry at the prestigious Pankey Institute in Miami, a continuing journey of learning that has shaped his philosophy and knowledge of the complexities of high-level dentistry. Today Dr. Kelly devotes over 100 hours a year studying with colleagues and mentors who are regarded as "Masters of Dentistry".

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On Providing a Fix vs an Experience: Part 2

July 11, 2018 Will Kelly DMD

When a car breaks down, the way we choose to have it repaired says a lot about how much we value our vehicle. A similar phenomenon occurs with dental care. 

In part 2 of this series about how we see a fix versus a valued service-based relationship, Dr. Kelly dives back into an experience that made him reflect on the dental profession. Keep reading for the rest of his story:

A Car Service Analogy: Obligation, Expense, or Experience

Coincidently, many days I use the analogy of cars to taking care of teeth with my patients. We wear away the surfaces of our teeth similarly to how tires age. We pay for maintenance and parts with an equal financial obligation and expense.

When we have to start over and restore our vehicle (or get a new one), sometimes it costs the same as major treatment we could have done for our teeth. Sometimes the auto investment is inconvenient and urgent. Often, if we choose, it is predictable and pleases us. We find ways to pay for it.

Individuals always seem to find ways to pay for the things they value. We choose our own experiences whether we know it or not. I invite my patients to consider experiencing dental care in my practice similarly to the good experience I have had with reliable and well-maintained cars.

The business card for my practice has three tag words on it: Restorative, Comprehensive, and Esthetic. I’ve been told that the meaning of these descriptors is too obscure for new patients to understand. Why not be like the dentist down the street and just say “Cosmetic” or “Family Dentistry”?

I believe every opportunity I have to help patients experience each of these focused goals for our patient care enriches the dentistry I can provide them. So many in our patient family have learned through these experiences exactly what these words mean.

To be continued …

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About Author

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Will Kelly DMD

Dr. Will Kelly attended the North Carolina State University School of Design and received a BA in Communications. He went on to spend two additional years in post baccalaureate studies in Medical Sciences at both UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Kelly graduated from the top ranked UNC School of Dentistry in 2004. His good hands and clinical abilities led to his being chosen as a teaching assistant to underclassmen in operative dentistry. In addition to clinical time in the dental school, Dr. Kelly had valuable experiences working in both the Durham VA Hospital and for the Indian Health Service in Wyoming. As a child, Dr. Kelly had the opportunity to assist his father on several dental mission trips in Haiti. After completing dental school, Dr. Kelly joined his father in private practice and served on the dental staff at Gaston Family Health Services, where he maintained a position on the board of directors. At this time Dr. Kelly also began his studies in advanced dentistry at the prestigious Pankey Institute in Miami, a continuing journey of learning that has shaped his philosophy and knowledge of the complexities of high-level dentistry. Today Dr. Kelly devotes over 100 hours a year studying with colleagues and mentors who are regarded as "Masters of Dentistry".

FIND A PANKEY DENTIST OR TECHNICIAN

I AM A
I AM INTERESTED IN

VIEW COURSE CALENDAR