“Doctor, I’d rather have a baby than this root canal.”

“That’s fine with me, just let make up your mind so I know which way to

 tilt the chair.”


Not everyone can have a stellar personality that encompasses all the facets of great bedside manner. Even without highly advanced social skills there are four things you can do to give a perception of good bedside manner. They are relatively easy to implement, they make patients feel important, and show that you care about them as people.

1. Follow-up Phone Calls

Calling every patient the night after their procedure is one of the most highly regarded expressions of bedside manner, as well as being an effective practice booster. This small act exemplifies concern and compassion for the patient’s wellbeing. Of course, this isn’t necessary after a simple examination, but after any significant procedure, a follow-up call from the doctor to ask how the patient is doing goes a long way to cement a lasting relationship. Something as simple as the removal of a mole, to the more invasive outpatient surgeries, offer great opportunities to see how the patient is feeling. Patients appreciate the concern and care expressed and late-night emergency calls are often eliminated since postoperative issues can be discussed at this time.

When you refer a patient to a specialist, you should call the patient after they have had their visit. By asking how things went and what they thought of the specialist, you show that you care. The conversation doesn’t have to be lengthy; you can get the job done in just a few minutes. Your patients will begin to think of you as a friend and appreciate that you’re accessible. Most doctors are busy enough and they don’t want to take the time to go that extra mile, but if you find the time to make that special call, you will stand out among your peers. It doesn’t involve learning any new skills and there is no personality requirement to be thoughtful. If you can’t find it in your personality, temperament, or schedule to make the calls, at least have someone from your office make the calls for you – but nothing compares to the personal touch. Find the time.

2. Refreshments

Offering tea or coffee with some light refreshments in the waiting room displays an overall feeling of kindness and generosity, while not requiring much on your part. Patients interpret a comfortable office ambiance that makes them feel good as a positive connection to the doctor.

3. Correspondence

Personal letters at holiday time and on each patient’s birthday are great ways to show you care. If computer generated letters and cards are used, make sure they look like personalized correspondence. Hand-address each envelope and use a postage stamp instead of meter postage.

When holiday letters are sent to a family, make sure only one letter is sent to each family and not each individual in the household. Sending five letters to the same address looks careless. Make sure you scribe a new letter each year so patients don’t get the same one, year after year. Remember, you are trying to look like you offer personalized service.

4. Free Stuff

Everyone likes free stuff. There’s a very popular bank that offers the best service around, and they give away tons of free pens. Customers flock there. Of course it’s more than just pens, but they understand the power of free stuff. The medical and dental suppliers figured that one out long ago. Many professionals buy more products and supplies when they get a “toy.” They will often “like” dealing with the companies that have the best giveaway programs. As unprofessional as that may sound, it is a true fact of marketing. You can utilize this same method to sell you and your office. All you have to do is offer little gifts and giveaways and you shall have very happy patients who feel good about visiting you.

You may not realize it, but everyone who gives child patients a little toy or a lollypop is already employing this very same technique. Kids can’t wait to go back and get that rubber worm, magnifying glass or other assorted treasures that adults don’t appreciate. Now all you have to do is offer adult patients an equivalent reward. You don’t want to overdo it with free gimmicks at each visit. However, you can have holiday presents you send to good patients. Offer a gadget at especially long or difficult visits and tell the patient it’s their reward for making your day go so well by being such a good patient. Everyone likes a compliment and everyone likes something for nothing. You don’t have to learn anything new, you can have no personality and you can still win over your patients with little gifts here and there when appropriate.


• Andrew Vo (2020/03/25 08:52)
Follow up phone calls, refreshments, correspondence and free stuff are common methods of hospitality from various businesses. Our challenge as specialists is that we must provide this two fold to our patients and our referrals. Our referrals would require an even higher level of thought/personalization in each of those categories. Balancing this efficiently and effectively will be our challenge!
• Jen Schlesinger (2020/03/24 19:39)
Calling patients every night seems like the best way to have our patients feel cared for. Do you give them a phone number to call if you don\\\'t reach them? And if so, is it a voicemail that you check regularly? I also fall for every gimmick of free things. I can relate to getting excited to see a basket of tiny toothpastes in the waiting room. The free pen idea is great, maybe even a fridge magnet to keep your name visible. Personal letters are very touching. I like the recommendation to write the address and use a regular stamp. Likely, I wouldn\\\'t have thought about those details. I appreciate all of these tips.
• Jane Shin (2020/03/24 18:37)
These are all great tips. One that we are definitely able to practice now as residents is making the post-op phone call. Not only does it confirm that you are there for your patients, it also gives the patients a chance to ask you additional questions. For many surgical procedures in dentistry we see the patient 5-10 days after treatment, but a post-op phone call can inform the clinician about how patients are feeling the evening of the procedure. In addition to showing patients that we care, this can help us correlate differences in each patient\'s treatment with the level of each patient\'s immediate post-op pain/discomfort/condition, which in the end will help us become better doctors.
• Shane Curtis (2020/03/24 14:43)
I think follow-up phone calls are an excellent idea. Doctors are notoriously difficult to reach and many of us have experienced this as patients. Sometimes, it is almost surprising when the provider or their office returns your call. Follow-up calls can play a pivotal role in combating that negative perception. I found the sections on correspondence and free stuff to be very interesting. I never put much thought into sending holiday or birthday cards from the office. Additionally, I am familiar with giving our good kiddos a toy at the end of the procedure, but have not thought much about gifts for adults. I am interested in exploring these topics further with experienced endodontists, like Dr. Fleisher, to see what resonates with patients in private practice.

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