The blog post below was written by a dear friend Dr. Mark Kleive. Mark and I have studied and taught together for eight years and I consider him one of my closest advisors. He was the first dentist I knew who used the idea of a focus group to grow and improve his practice.
Have you ever wondered what your patients “really” think about being members of your practice? Would you like to know how they experience the care, skill and judgement of you and your team? Would you be open to their feedback?
I’m at a new place in my career. After spending 13 years as a dentist in Minnesota I relocated nearly a year ago to the Asheville area of North Carolina. I’ve taken over a practice with a strong history in the community and I’m finding myself asking the same questions posed above. What I’m preparing for is a focus group – an invitation event where I pose questions and get feedback from patients whose opinions matter to me most. It’s a concept that I learned from one of my mentors and have used on a few occasions with great success. The main criteria that I’ve used for participant selection is this – who are the patients in your practice that are “friends” of the practice – they put a smile on your face when you see their name on the schedule, they have referred others to your practice, they appear to value you and your team, etc. You get to choose what this definition means for you and your team. Then you get to prepare the venue, the refreshments and pose the questions.
Questions that I have posed in previous focus groups include:
- How many years have you been a member of this practice?
- What are the reasons that you came to this practice?
- For what reasons do you stay?
- Is there a particular reason?
- What are the best ways to get more people like you in our practice?
The responses that I’ve heard have always helped give me a better understanding of how patients are experiencing our practice. Is the practice vision “alive” or just written? Do they see themselves as missionaries? Will they continue to support the growth of the practice? I’ve used feedback from focus groups to develop marketing materials, confirm that systems that I thought were working well actually were, and improve the ones that weren’t working so well. I’ve spent lots of time in my career wondering what others were thinking. Then someone told me that I should “just ask”.
With risk comes reward – are you willing to ask?
Mark Kleive DDS