Why did you leave your dentist?

Why did you leave your dentist?

I have always been fascinating with books on “Behavioral Economics”; why we choose one product or service over another. Coke vs. Pepsi, Avis vs. Hertz, Dr. Shapiro over Dr. Johnson, etc.

Example: What changes did a struggling cereal brand in India make in order to increase sales by 1000%?

Answer: They figured out that the grandmothers who live with their extended families were buying the cereal for the household. Most of them had poor eyesight, wore very thick glasses and were under five feet tall. The cereal company changed the colors of the boxes to match the colors of an array of common Indian spices, since the grandmothers did most of the cooking and were familiar with these colors which represented tasty food. They also moved the boxes to the lower shelves in the markets to allow them to see them more clearly.

Very often patients will leave a doctor’s practice dissatisfied with issues completely un-related to the actual service provided. Examples reported by real patients:

  1. The front desk person is not nice. (As a patient too, usually on my day off on Fridays unfortunately, I can vouch for this one. I hate when they mispronounce my name, forget that I checked in or ask me to fill out the same forms I just did one week ago. A rude, brusque tone doesn’t help either, with no greeting when I enter the waiting room; just shoving a clipboard in my face. Not cool.)
  2. The hygienist was too rough. Sometimes being thorough on a case with tremendous tarter build up can be uncomfortable. In those cases, the hygienist can use a topical gel to numb the gums. A routine cleaning should not be a painful experience; if it is, you probably need more than just a cleaning.
  3. They charged me more than they said they would at the consultation visit. The staff needs to know their fees and understand best practices for explaining insurance benefits and fee estimations. Patients need to sign a treatment plan form that shows the EXACT fees.
  4. Out of date office décor. ( I literally walked out of GI doctor’s office once when I saw the waiting room!  No joke. I was insulted how little this guy thinks of his patients comfort and wellbeing. Framed pictures of dogs playing poker; are you kidding me! He the 70’s called; they want their artwork back!)
  5. Twenty menu prompts to listen to when you call the office. (Hey. It’s not AT&T!)
  6. Foul odors of the office, unkempt looking doctors and staff. (Not on my watch!)

Next time, let’s address issues with the actual services that make patients jump the “dental” ship!

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