A Child's 1st Visit to a Dentist While Keeping Parents in Mind
Parents are responsible for raising their children, taking care of them, keeping them healthy, and supporting them physically and emotionally. It is often difficult to juggle between work schedule, family schedule, school schedule and all the other schedules you can think of. With that in mind, here are some important tips that would help make a child's first dental visit successful. It starts with the parents because ultimately, it is the parents who decide what dentist they will take their kids to.
The "gatekeeper" is a locked door standing between you and the person you need to speak with. For a dental practice that treats children, parents are the gatekeepers. They are responsible for deciding what practice their kids will go to for regular cleaning, braces, extractions and other dental needs.
Some important factors for parents to consider when deciding a doctor for their children are personal recommendations from family and friends and online reviews found on the dental websites, Yelp, Google and social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. Is it easy to schedule an appointment with your dental practice? When scheduling an appointment, parents are usually worried about picking a date and time that works best for everyones schedule. Parents do not want their children to miss school. Do you have your county public school schedule on your computer? Best appointments for parents are 1/2 days from school, school scheduled days off, and holiday breaks. Those dates are usually the first to go. They also need to make sure who will be available to take the kids to the appointment. Another critical factor to consider is how much time they will need for the dental visit. Will they need to take an extended lunch or 1/2 a day off of work?
Imagine this...you have a dentist appointment for your two kids at noon. You must arrive at school 30 minutes early to pick up your child. Once you are at the dental practice, you must check in and are given new patient intake forms to complete for both kids. You have to keep an eye on your kids while filling out the forms. Since your husband is the primary insurance policy holder, you have to call him to get the details on the insurance policy, such as employer's name, address, telephone and your husband's SSN. Once you are done with the forms, you have to hand them to the front desk and give them your insurance card so they can make a copy of it. You then wait to hear your child's name called out so that you can be seen by the dentist. Your toddler is not happy waiting in the back for your other child to finish the checkup. What are you doing to create a positive dental visit?
Stay HIPAA compliant with your dental forms while keeping your patients' parents happy.
Allow parents to complete your new patient dental forms online before arriving at your practice. You can convert your financial policy agreement, patient registration form, health history form, HIPAA authorization form, authorization release form, insurance policy information, etc to an electronic format. To increase patient engagement, personalize a secure email message with information on how to complete and submit your practice HIPAA compliant patient intake forms directly on your website. There are printable forms on some dental websites, where parents can print and complete the forms and then bring them to the appointment. The downside to this process is having parents print them out using their own printer and remembering to bring them to the appointment.
To make it a successful first visit, try to focus on how to improve your process by making it less stressful for the parents. For example, offer online patient forms for parents to complete during their lunch break, while their kids are taking a nap, at night when the children are asleep, etc. Basically, you understand parents are busy and you will save them time at your office by making it easy for them to complete all required forms online. Once the forms are completed and submitted to your practice digitally, they will receive a thank you message that your practice has received the forms. Consider adding some quick tips on how to make the upcoming dental visit a success. Here are some examples of quick tips to offer to parents for a smooth first visit with the dentist:
- Bring your insurance card so we can make a copy to keep on file
- Have questions or concerns? Make a list of questions and concerns you may have for us, and your dentist will be happy to go over them with you.
- If your child isn't feeling well, please give us a call and we can reschedule the appointment for another time.
- Express excitement and positive attitude towards the upcoming visit so your child feels relaxed and not nervous about the upcoming appointment.
- BYOT (bring your own toy) for a checkup too! Children are more relaxed when they can see what our dentist will be doing. Please bring a favorite stuff animal or toy so we can demonstrate the teeth cleaning and checkup process.
Appreciation means a feeling or expression of admiration, approval or gratitude according to Merriam-Webster. People appreciate it when you are considerate of their time and schedule. Parents certainly will appreciate your practice for making the effort to help reduce the amount of time it takes to be at a doctor's visit and by working with their schedule. In turn, people show appreciation by sharing the positive energy and feedback to other people they know.
Parents may or may not get their kids to eat all the broccoli for dinner. However, they are the decision makers when it comes to who their children will or will not see for health and dental checkups. Keep parents in mind when strategizing on how to get more new patients for your practice. Remember parents are your gatekeepers after all.
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