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Is your DSO or individual dental practice focusing on giving patients experiences they will rave about? Consistently providing exceptionally wonderful patient experiences one patient at a time across all DSO locations will make your DSO significantly more scalable, while increasing the profitability of each location.


At our DSO in Wisconsin, Dental Associates, the leadership believes very strongly that the patient experience is something that is important to measure and follow up for improvement. One of the core principles of their business is to improve the patient experience and create heightened engagement with staff members.

As the Patient Experience Manager for Dental Associates, I am an advocate and cheerleader for our patients, and I am constantly helping our teams focus on and becoming excited about providing amazing care to our patients. We genuinely want everyone to provide amazing care, and our teams feel it. This requires continuous communication from top leadership that this is the priority. And it requires continuous observation, problem solving, training, and challenging our employees to remember patients come first.


Why Focus on the Patient Experience?

High engagement with patients leads to happiness for all involved. When patients have awesome experiences, they come back and bring their friends. They write great online reviews. They trust you have their best interest in mind and accept more dental treatment. This is meaningful because we are giving more patients access to care and improved health. We are not providing a commodity. We are providing transforming health care.

There is something personal in it for the practice team, as well. We have better days, better experiences, and better team engagement. The day goes by fast when you are taking care of patients and they are enjoying it. When they enjoy your care, you enjoy your day. When they express their appreciation, it is priceless.


What Can We Do Better?

I know a lot of DSOs place priority on the patient experience, but many do not have a dedicated Patient Experience Manager. I travel around and spend time at each of our locations to observe all team members in their interaction with patients. Then, I rely on team supervisors to help build engagement with patients. We are not doing this to catch anyone in doing something wrong. We are doing this to find out what we are doing right and what we need to do better.


Team Specific Goals

At Dental Associates, the doctors help their team make sure that they are keeping the patient experience on their minds, and each location has goals they need to achieve as well. Each local team is monitored and supported with strategies and training to achieve those goals. 

Patient experience improvements may need to be made across the board or in specific practice locations or in same size locations. So, strategies can vary depending on patient demographics and staff knowledge, attitudes, skills, time pressure, and support. For example, in certain communities, a new dental insurance plan should be added in network. Where there has been recent staff change over, onboarding coaching may be needed. It varies.

Where patient experience is lagging, I sometimes find the supervisor is placing more priority on production than the patient experience. I sometimes find they are understaffed. In these cases, team members feel pressure to move patients along quickly without spending a few more minutes with each one to create a personal connection that lets the patient know they are cared about as a special person. Patient trust depends on these relationships. So, I work with the supervisors and communicate with the dentists. I depend on them to provide the leadership their teams need. 


Should Your DSO Have a Patient Experience Manager?

Whether your DSO should have a dedicated person doing what I do is a question to think about in earnest. We have experienced measurable growth in correlation with the patient experience improvements we have made, and our teams report increased enjoyment with each other and their work. 

A dedicated Patient Experience Manager can help your dental teams by:

  • Reminding them to keep focus on the patient experience and why.
  • Routinely visiting to observe and provide feedback while cheering them on.
  • Providing training support.
  • Strategizing and communicating with the DSO’s executives.
  • Advocating for any resources needed locally to improve the patient experience.
  • Measuring the impact local improvements have on patient satisfaction, retention, reviews, and referrals.
  • Overall, creating a culture of excitement and connection centered on the patient experience.


More Resources for Improving the Dental Patient Experience

You will find additional motivating videos featuring Christina Villarreal and other dental industry experts in our Patient Prism blog. Click here to access our numerous “Patient Experience” videos and their associated blog articles.

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