The Patient Perspective

Do Your Patients Value Their Care?

Dental patients value their care

Utilizing Press Ganey, the largest provider of health care satisfaction management, HDC-affiliated dentists use feedback from their patients to advance their skills — whether clinical, communication or leadership. Press Ganey's comprehensive survey targets a variety of areas of the patient experience, including dental team-patient interaction, personnel issues, payment issues, the facility and the appointment itself. One specific area dentists receive feedback on is "care worth charged", a score that reflects how patients feel about the care they receive. Have their expectations been met or exceeded? Or do they regret the purchase they've made?

Dr. Kerry Burgess, an affiliated dentist at Crossroads Family Dental in Bullhead City, Arizona, understands the importance of exceeding patient expectations. After initially scoring a 13 out of 100 on the "care worth charged" portion on the Press Ganey survey, Dr. Burgess and his team made a few simple adjustments and dramatically improved their score to a 90. They've turned their score around with effective communication that emphasizes the value and significance of their care.

"How patients feel about their treatment is key to their satisfaction, so adapting your communication skills is essential in surpassing their expectations."

Kerry Burgess practices dentistry in Bullhead City Arizona Kerry Burgess, DMD
practicing dentist at Crossroads Family Dental in Bullhead City, Arizona

"Most dentists who receive low 'care worth charged' scores will naturally ask themselves, 'Am I charging too much for my dental care?' In actuality, patient feelings affect these scores, not treatment prices. How patients feel about their treatment is key to their satisfaction, so adapting your communication skills is essential in surpassing their expectations. It doesn't matter how long you spend talking to patients if you're not discussing the right things, such as results," said Dr. Burgess. "For example, after I complete a root canal, I show the patient the specifics of their post-op radiograph to explain how a 'perfect' seal has been created. I also excitedly explain how the curve of the root made the process difficult and despite this, we still achieved this result. This communication helps the patient leave the office with an understanding and appreciation of the work completed, and reinforces that they made the right investment."

"If no discussion was provided during or after the treatment, the patient's perception will be, 'I sat uncomfortably for over an hour, now I'm sore but my tooth ache is gone.' They may wonder if an extraction would have been a better investment. I don't want my patients to second guess their decisions. I want them to appreciate the care received and feel that their money was well spent. Showing or explaining their excellent results makes all the difference in the world," explained Dr. Burgess.

Most patients have a general idea what an extraction, filling or root canal is, but they may not understand the specific processes involved or how difficult achieving effective results can be. By communicating these things, dentists can help patients feel great about their treatment decisions and ultimately increase patient satisfaction.