Few practices look forward to the emergency patient. Just squeezing them into the schedule can be quite disruptive to your day. Beyond the scheduling havoc they can cause, they may also be tricky to deal with because of the pain they might be in, or the fear they have of going to the dentist. But the fact is that emergency patients can be an opportunity to increase your patient base and grow your practice.

 

Grow Your Practice

If you’re doing things right, emergency patients should easily become new business. According to statistics, you should be converting 80% of your emergency patients into regular customers. If you aren’t achieving this, try some of the following advice.

Welcome Them

Hopefully you treat your regular patients with warmth and compassion. Emergency patients should get the exact same treatment. Make sure they are welcomed, reassured, and appreciated from the first phone call through treatment.

Never make them feel like an imposition or an annoyance, or that you are doing them a special favor by getting them on to the schedule with short notice. They need special handling more than most since they are probably in a lot of pain and have been avoiding treatment out of fear or dread.

Educate Them

Emergency patients are likely to be fearful of the dentist and their condition. If you can make them feel better both physically and emotionally, you are that much more likely to get them scheduled for a comprehensive exam later. Educate them about their condition; what caused it, how it can be treated and how regular exams can help prevent problems down the road. If you can make them feel better and even comfortable, you increase your odds of booking them as a new regular patient.

Plan For Them

While it’s impossible to know exactly when an emergency patient is going to call, you can make preparations that will make life easier when they do come calling. Leave some gaps in your schedule to provide room to shift things around to accommodate emergency patients. This will alleviate the typical chaos that goes along with the unscheduled nature of emergencies. Additionally, leave open space so they can schedule follow up exams the next week. A little planning will go a long way towards making the situation easier.

Follow Up

If you're seeing first-time patients for an emergency, it's more than likely that they simply don't like going to the dentist (though some may just be looking for an available one). This makes it all the more important to follow up with them shortly after their treatment to see how they are doing and comfort them further if necessary. If they haven’t already scheduled a follow up exam, this is a good time to remind them to do so and explain again how regular exams can prevent problems in the future.

If emergency patients never come back to your practice, you are missing out on an almost guaranteed source of new and regular patients. Try implementing some of the techniques above. Train your staff to handle emergency patients carefully and you should be rewarded with an increased schedule of comprehensive exams and a healthier bottom line.