Embrace the opportunity that emergency patients bring and watch them become your greatest and most loyal fans. If you don’t already have one, create an emergency patient experience protocol. Obviously, this goes beyond triaging the patient to address the immediate oral health problem. This protocol also addresses how the patient is to be managed throughout the visit. Certainly, the priority is to get the person out of pain, but it is also a huge opportunity to provide a truly excellent patient experience that the patient will not only remember fondly, but will happily share with others. In addition, it’s the opportunity to educate the patient on what your practice can do for them so that they don’t find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
The objective is to ensure that the emergency patient feels that the employees are understanding and helpful – not punitive – even when staff are under pressure. Pay attention to cues the patient gives. Does the patient appear anxious or fearful? Is the person concerned about the cost of the treatment or the pain or the time the procedure is going to require? Is the patient apologizing because it’s been such a long time since their last appointment? Has this person had a negative dental experience in the past? Does the patient appear angry or frustrated?
Listening closely to the patient’s concerns will help you identify possible objections they may have to pursuing comprehensive care. Knowing these enables you to break them down with appropriate educational tools. Making the effort to understand patient concerns and show sincere kindness and compassion will enable you to convert far more emergency patients to comprehensive exams.