What is Patient Experience and Why Does It Matter?

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Those words from Henry David Thoreau have broad application. They especially help answer the question, what is patient experience?

Essentially, patient experience is often less about what’s obvious and more about those in-the-margins or between-the-lines realities that are truly “seen”. Every dental practice operates from a business perspective and a customer (patient) service perspective. The intersection of those business drivers and customer service drivers is where patient experience happens.


Consumerism affects your patient families like it does everyone else. Satisfaction with a product or service relies on the acquisition experience as much as cost on some occasions.

It’s said that, “perception is everything…” And your patient experience factors into how they see your services, your team, dentistry in general, and their future loyalty to your practice.

Keep in mind that patient loyalty is a by-product of the comprehensive patient experience you provide. This experience includes:

  • Arrival and parking
  • Entry and reception area theme
  • Front-desk staff interactions
  • Reception area amenities
  • In-chair treatment
  • Post procedure consultations
  • Check-out, financials, and re-appointment

Every interaction with your facilities and staff reveals how in-tune you are with your patient’s needs regardless of their age.

The goal: put them at ease and elevate the value of your services for their health.


Adapting to Their Expectations

The patient experience you provide reveals that you understand what it’s like to walk-in-their shoes. Each person or family seeks your services, communicates with your team, and arrives for their scheduled appointment with a set of expectations.

Keep in mind that their expectations might not always match your passion for their oral health. Prioritizing dental care is a process that often begins with pain or an immediate need more than it does a routine commitment.

Making dental care a priority involves consistent communication and positive engagement.

Communicate about…

  • Smile and appearance goals plus overall oral health goals
  • Treatment tailored to help them achieve their goals

Create an open environment of communication that doesn’t rely on being “salesy” or over-promoting.

And speaking of environment, patient experience is also…

Creating an Atmosphere

Knowing patient expectations helps you create an environment that anticipates their needs and wants. The tone you set throughout your practice reveals your sensitivity to their emotions about dentistry in general.

  • Lighten the mood throughout your practice
  • Leverage themes to create a consistent atmosphere
  • Listen to their feedback and reviews to make upgrades and improve your patient experience

Engaging Them from the First Interaction

You might call it making a first impression. Remember that patient engagement starts before someone schedules or arrives at your facilities.

Your facility ROI will work to your advantage when you give attention to those vital first-impression strategies.

  • Phone tone
  • Informative website
  • Compelling digital communication (SMS, email)

The more engaging these support tools are the better your ROI and branding will be. Healthcare (these days) is more and more reliant on attention to service details.

You’ll reach, retain, and experience referrals the more you embed a first-impression mindset into your practice culture. Those strategies will elevate your patient experience to new levels that improve your ROI.

Ongoing Education via Useful, Informative Content

It doesn’t matter how state-of-the-art your facilities or technology are if you miss opportunities to communicate how they practically benefit your patients. New technology or the creative use of your physical space can be to your advantage if you connect it to the patient experience.

That connection is how consistently and effectively you educate them about the benefits.

  • Use digital communication channels to inform your patients (blog, email, social media, etc)
  • Survey your families/patients to source questions you can answer
  • Synch your team members to an educational focus – one that listens and then leverages the information for family/patient benefit


Take your patient experience to new levels. You’ll stand-out from other service providers when you…

Invest in Your Patients

Valuing your patients and their families sets them up for a lifetime of positive health outcomes. And the environment you set can help you achieve a better patient experience.

  • Reduce patient anxiety and enhance their relaxation
  • Prime patients and families for their appointments
  • Create positive dental care experiences

Invest in Your Business

Maintain your edge in the crowded dental service space. Attention to details in your space can transform your environment and the overall patient experience.

  • Create “buzz” in the community you serve
  • Accelerate patient referrals
  • Generate positive online reviews

Check out these related resources to upgrade or renew your patient experience:

5 Tips for Creating the Experience Parents Really Want While in the Waiting Room (But Won’t Tell You!)

Case Study – Adding Theming to Increase Profitability and Patient Satisfaction

A Practical Guide to Creating an Exceptional Patient Experience

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.




Add a note to this photo: