POP – The Patient Onboarding Process – how to improve your patient experience

Whenever we buy cloud-based subscription software nowadays (often described as SaaS – software as a service), the developers work very hard to make sure that we learn how to get the best from our investment as early on a possible.

They do this because otherwise there is an attrition rate – people who purchase the software impulsively then don’t make the time to learn and use it – hence cancelling their subscription a short time later.

That’s very inefficient for the SaaS provider, who now has to start all over again to find a new customer.

The process by which new subscribers are welcomed into their new tribe is know as ONBOARDING – a term you will hear tech people use a lot.

Having said that, even some of the onboarding processes could be improved.

I recently purchased a subscription to the video platform Wistia and I’m very interested in using their desktop video facility Soapbox to create my own mini-tutorials (and to show my clients how they can present treatment plans with video and voice-over very easily and quickly).

Having completed the purchase last week, I have been inundated with daily emails from Wistia, encouraging me to explore all the functionality of the product, inviting me to webinars and asking if I’m OK with the service.

The people that design these email nurturing sequences seem to think we have nothing better to do than wait for their next jolly missive.

In the real world – you have patients to see, I have clients to see, we both have businesses to run and I’m lucky if I can find 30 minutes a week to play with the software.

Maybe that might be a point for the SaaS people – let me, the customer, decide when I want to learn more and at my own pace?

This has me thinking (inevitably) about the business of dentistry and whether or not we ONBOARD a new patient?

I’m starting to imagine a new coaching session for my clients – The Patient Onboarding Process – POP.

It’s taking shape in my mind as I’m discussing it with clients – that’s how these things develop – and at the moment I’m imagining that when a prospect becomes a patient of the practice, either verbally or via digital/print media, you would introduce them to the world of your practice and “the way we do things here”.

Here’s an initial list of the subjects that could be covered (in no particular order):

  • your treatment – a beginners guide to the treatment plan we have agreed;
  • the end of treatment protocol – advanced notice of the conversation during which the MRCREST list will appear;
  • how to look after your teeth and gums during/after treatment;
  • our long term care programme – how we intend to and how we expect you to look after your teeth and gums for life;
  • our membership plan;
  • promises and expectations – the standards of performance and behaviour that we will deliver and that we expect from you;
  • what to do in an emergency;
  • our team approach to delivering dentistry – the three-story dental analogy, allowing multiple clinicians to care for an individual patient over time;
  • our dental health review system – the 16-point checklist, hygiene pop-ins and co-diagnosis;
  • our apprentices – how we recruit and train our clinical team.

There’s a starter pack and I’d be delighted if anybody reading this could contribute more ideas.

The benefits of onboarding new patients are improved compliance, retention and recommendation and yet I’m not seeing this happen on my travels.

My objective here is to innovate.



Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.