Despite being part of the healthcare industry, dental practices are like any other business in that they need to stay profitable if they are to remain operational.
Subsequently, as a practice owner you need to be meeting your dental patients’ needs and keeping them happy if you’re to retain their loyalty and attract more patients to your dental surgery. And the best way to achieve this is through a dental survey.
Measuring Dental Care Satisfaction with Surveys
From eye care and dental services to general practice (GP) and wider hospital healthcare services. When it comes to patient satisfaction surveys to assess how happy individuals are with the service they’ve received, the use of these surveys to discover what patients really think about the care and treatment they’ve received has been rapidly gaining traction throughout the healthcare industry and is now an important tool for all those working in dentistry too.
Whether it’s the quality of your work and friendliness of your staff, or the overall speed, effectiveness and value of the service you offer. Knowing what individuals most like about your practice, as well as anything they would like to see improved can make all the difference to retaining and acquiring new patients or losing them to a competitor. So, it’s important to get ongoing feedback from your dental patients, if you’re to maintain high levels of service quality across all key areas of your dental clinic.
What to include in a dental care survey
When it comes to the planning of your healthcare questionnaire there’s a lot to consider before you can start creating your questions.
The best way to start in order to generate ideas for this, is to think about your typical patient’s journey with you. This could include details such as how they first heard about you and their first impressions of you on arrival at your clinic, to their views on the quality of service they received, value for money and how well they’ve been looked after since becoming a regular patient.
You may want to break this down into areas of discussion, which should then help your thinking when you’re trying to devise questions that will help you to obtain the feedback you need across all areas of your dentistry practice. Example areas to survey include:
One thing that will resonate with many of us is the nervousness and dental fear that is invoked in us while waiting for our dental treatment, making the physical environment extremely important, as it can help to calm or further inflame how we are already feeling.
Beyond the reception area and waiting rooms, which are hopefully clean, comfortable and reasonably tranquil, you’ll also need to think about your treatment rooms, and how well they are set up to make dental patients feel as comfortable as possible.
While the physical environment that you provide is important, so too are the interactions that your staff have with patients, from your receptionists to your hygienists and dentists. From how friendly and caring they come across in what they say, to how effectively they perform in their jobs. The performance of your clinical staff is another critical area that your patients are likely to want to leave feedback on.
Cost is also important for anyone concerned about their dental hygiene and oral health. Many patients want clear and upfront information about the cost of your services and any payment plans that may be available to them, which you can get a better feel for through your questions.
From how effectively you handle their appointments, cancellations or any complaints they may have, to how well you communicate with them about any changes to your services or procedures. Given the busy lives that many patients have, good communication with them is important. So, it’s also worth considering this area when you’re putting your dental survey together, even if it’s just finding out by what method your patients prefer you to communicate with them going forward.
Oral health habits
Another useful area to explore in your survey is to look at how often new and existing patients visit the dentist. This can be really valuable, especially for those that hardly ever go or only seek help for their dental health when they are in pain, as it could signify that they are frightened of visiting their dentist. Such insight could enable you to put in place more procedures to help handle nervous patients.
As with any business, dentists need to be effective with their marketing if they are to progress and grow their business. And through the use of demographics and trying to better understand the demographical make up of their customer base, as well as their wider local catchment area, they’ll be better able to achieve this.
From the number of patients you have in different age groups and their income level, to their marital status and whether they have any children. When you have more demographic data about your patients, you’re able to differentiate and segment groups based on these factors, so that you can better market and streamline your resources to meet different patient needs. This is where the demographic questions that you ask in your dental survey can be valuable.
For example, if after running your survey, you find out that you have more senior patients than you thought, you’ll probably need to give some more thought to your existing resources and whether they are sufficient for meeting the needs of more intensive dental work that this age group typically requires. Alternatively, if you discover that your customer base and wider catchment area has more families than you realised, you may decide to tweak your marketing and payment structure to make your practice more family friendly.
Net Promoter Score®
Finally, one of the best ways of knowing how satisfied people are is to find out how willing they would be to recommend your services to others, which is where the Net Promoter Score question comes in.
Having asked them this question, you’ll be in a much better position to judge the overall health of your brand and any improvements you need to make.
Benefits of running dental surveys
Having already outlined the importance of remaining profitable to stay in business, which surveying your patients for their feedback can help you to achieve. Here are some other top-level benefits of running a dental survey.
Improve service delivery
Besides finding out what they most like and dislike about your service, the ability to ask your patients’ what else they believe you could do to improve their experience, gives you plenty of information to work with to further enhance your service delivery.
Increase patient loyalty
Not only does the simple act of approaching your patients for feedback help to put you in a more favourable light, having shown a genuine interest in understanding what they think, if you then act on their feedback this should help to increase your levels of patient loyalty.
Grow your practice
The whole process of running a survey should help you to better understand the main segment groups that existing within your customer base. And when you can better understand what they want and improve how you market and deliver your services them, you should be able to retain and attract more patients and grow your clinic as a result.
Example dental survey questions
Having taken the decision to move forward with a dental survey, it can be useful to have some example questions to draw on. If you’re new to creating surveys, you may prefer starting with some simple and more general questions such as the following rating style questions:
“How satisfied were you with your visit today?”
(On a scale of (1-10) where 1 is not at all satisfied to 10 which represents extremely satisfied)
“How friendly was our front office staff?”
(On a scale of (1-10) where 1 is not at all friendly to 10 which represents very friendly)
“How was your interaction with the doctor?”
(On a scale of (1-10) where 1 is not very good at all to 10 which represents extremely good)
“How comfortable did you find our office?”
(On a scale of (1-10) where 1 is not at all comfortable to 10 which represents extremely comfortable)
Wider more probing questions could include:
“How did you first hear about us?”
- Website search
- Yellow pages
- Community newsletter
- Through a friend or family member
- Other (please specify)
“What made you chose to use our dental practice?”
(choose all that apply)
- Quality of our work and service
- Friendliness of our staff
- Other (please specify)
“How often do you visit the dentist?”
- Every six months
- Only when I have pain
- Other (please specify)
“How likely is it that you would recommend your friends and family have their dental work done with us?”
(On a scale of (1-10) where 1 is very unlikely to 10 which represents extremely likely)
“Is there anything else we could do to improve your dental experience?”
These questions should provide you with a solid start to get your survey going. However, we appreciate how challenging it can be to come up with the right questions, especially when you’re running a busy practice. So, we’ve also created a number of healthcare survey templates, where you can find some further examples of questions that you might like to use.
SmartSurvey offers the complete survey software solution so that you can create dental care surveys, distribute them with ease and collect reliable data in real time. Sign up today.