Referrals That Meet and Exceed Patient Expectations

May 11, 2018 Pankey Gram

There are so many different processes, techniques, and skills that go into a functional dental practice that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Seemingly inconsequential things like referrals can get the better of us if we don’t have a solid system in place.

Patient Friendly Referrals

The best specialist referrals involve open communication and provide patients with a sense of care and consideration. Patients prefer to be given a tangible referral tool, such as the specialist’s brochure, along with your confident assertions of their quality. This gives them something solid to associate their trust with and provides further familiarity.

Validation of your referral comes in other ways as well. Patients will want you to provide the introductory information that you might assume the specialist will want. It’s important to remember that they won’t automatically feel comfortable putting their health in someone else’s hands.

You might consider asking the patient if they would like your office to call the specialist to establish the referral and set up their first appointment. This strengthens their sense that you are actively involved in the referral and have a strong relationship with the other office and team. It’s proof of your commitment to their health.

A big no-no is not discussing the patient’s condition with the specialist before their appointment. It will become very obvious to the patient if you haven’t done your due diligence in helping the specialist understand their needs. They will feel stranded and ignored, and often are uncertain that the specialist will communicate back with you after their visit.

Finally, make sure you have an arrangement with the specialist ahead of time that they will check in with you after the treatment. Then, once the patient returns to your practice, you can share with them all you learned from the specialist since they were there.

How do you ease patient concerns during the referral process? Leave a comment below!

Related Course

E4: Posterior Reconstruction and Completing the Comprehensive Treatment Sequence

DATE: October 30 2025 @ 8:00 am - November 3 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 44

Dentist Tuition: $ 7400

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

The purpose of this course is to help you develop mastery with complex cases involving advanced restorative procedures, precise sequencing and interdisciplinary coordination. Building on the learning in Essentials Three…

Learn More>

About Author

User Image
Pankey Gram

FIND A PANKEY DENTIST OR TECHNICIAN

I AM A
I AM INTERESTED IN

VIEW COURSE CALENDAR

Please Bring Your Smartphone: Part 3

March 21, 2018 Will Kelly DMD

It’s time to start thinking of smartphones as an asset rather than a detriment to dental practices. Yes, they can be distracting, but they can also pose great opportunities for connecting to a younger generation of patients. Ultimately, they can directly contribute to case acceptance and smoother communication with specialists. 

How to Use a Smartphone for Better Case Communication

Videotaping patients with an iPhone has changed how I practice, especially with interdisciplinary care. Here is how that often takes place in an exam:

“You know Mrs. Jones, we are so blessed to have Dr. Periodontist, Dr. Orthodontist, and my Lab Tech, Mr. Awesome, working together with us on this case. I think we learned some things today that are important to share with them, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve got an idea … would you mind if I recorded a short video to text to them? I think this will keep them up to speed and enable them to give any input as we move forward.”

I state the patient’s name and date, then start describing the situation. We show things from exam findings while the patient experiences them again, usually nodding their head in agreement. With the right patient, I get them to state what we found while recording the video. The whole time, I imagine the patient feels like they are holding the attention of all the members of the interdisciplinary team at once.

These videos are an awesome way to communicate with specialists and other members of the case team. With care and knowing your patient, the behavioral learning opportunity is priceless for them. Sometimes the behavioral pieces can even guide a team member.

As we grow, we must embrace the possibilities of our current reality. We experience and process the world differently now that it is through the filter of a little device in our pocket that connects our mind to the world.

Do you love or hate smartphones in your dental practice? 

Related Course

E4: Posterior Reconstruction and Completing the Comprehensive Treatment Sequence

DATE: November 7 2024 @ 8:00 am - November 11 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 44

Dentist Tuition: $ 7300

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 290

THIS COURSE IS SOLD OUT The purpose of this course is to help you develop mastery with complex cases involving advanced restorative procedures, precise sequencing and interdisciplinary coordination. Building on…

Learn More>

About Author

User Image
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

Communication Challenge: Patient Referrals

March 14, 2018 Pankey Gram

One of the keys to delivering meaningful patient care is upholding the power of relationships in all aspects of your work life. For example, clear communication in the patient referrals process can either make a patient feel doubly supported or leave them feeling insignificant.

So how do you foster good relationships with the specialists you refer to that improve patient trust?

Patient Referrals: Communication, Relationships, and Trust

It’s not uncommon for a dentist to refer their patient to a specialist, only for the patient to realize the specialist hasn’t been told anything about their unique case. This clumsy pass between health care professionals starts the patient off with a heightened level of distrust.

Then, the situation can be made even worse if what the patient learns from the specialist is very different from what their dentist told them. They can become frustrated by the inconsistency or angry that they are being given conflicting information.

The solution to this problem is as simple as it is difficult to enact consistently. Patients will develop increased trust with their general dentists if they are led to believe the general dentist is skilled at referring them to specialists.

Additionally, they should feel that their case is handled with great care in the transition period. Their general dentist should make the process smooth for everyone involved and communicate expectations with the specialist.

Patient trust is everything. They will not follow you on the path to more advanced or complex treatment, or even come to think of you as their long-term dentist, if they feel the relationship is built on shaky ground. Who you refer to and how you do it can either strengthen that relationship or do the exact opposite.

More than anything, you must show the patient you are very familiar with the specialist and advise the specialist about the patient in turn. The specialist’s office should then be able to affirm your relationship with the patient by providing complementary care and information.

When you and the specialists you refer to provide conflicting treatment plans or explanations, doubt inevitably creeps in.

How do you communicate effectively in the referrals process? 

Related Course

E3: Restorative Integration of Form & Function

DATE: October 13 2024 @ 8:00 am - October 17 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 41

Cost: $ 7200

night with private bath: $ 290

This Course Is Sold Out! Understanding that “form follows function” is critical for knowing how to blend what looks good with what predictably functions well. E3 is the phase of…

Learn More>

About Author

User Image
Pankey Gram

FIND A PANKEY DENTIST OR TECHNICIAN

I AM A
I AM INTERESTED IN

VIEW COURSE CALENDAR