Why I believe many of us are competing to treat the wrong patients

wrong patientsRather than chasing new patients, maybe we should be looking to treat our current patients, Tif Qureshi says.

All around me I see a non-stop barrage of social media advertising, case studies, patient testimonials, and marketing guru advice. It tell us: ‘You need new patients and without new patients you are not going to thrive!’ Apparently new patients are likely to need more treatment and hence spend more.

Perhaps this is the case for a squat practice. I have no doubt it is important for all practices to market effectively and welcome new clients within reason.

But what about people who may already be our own patients? Surely it makes more sense to be spending time looking after our own patients? Most of these treatments we advertise are needed by most people with ageing teeth.

The trick is to have the relationship with a patient so they understand this need for functional reasons rather than it being a cosmetic desire only.

Social media pressures

There is no doubt people are under extreme pressure from the Insta stars of dentistry. A lot of young dentists tell me they want to be a ‘cosmetic dentist’ because of what they see every day online. As a result, them not achieving the same results, number of likes, followers etc makes them feel like a failure.

I was a ‘cosmetic dentist’ with just that purpose once. A kind of ‘wannabe’ pseudo-specialist who carried out a complex treatment, finished it, and then said goodbye.

Having done that 15-20 years ago, I would now advise against this, I treated many new clients this way. I later realised one has a real responsibility to carry on and maintain that work and this is far more complicated than people realise.

I have also found treating patients I know, who chose treatment for functional and aesthetic versus ‘new cosmetic dentistry patients’ has been far less complicated.

And that begs the question – when carrying out complex aesthetic, restorative, orthodontic, reconstructive or even interceptive dentistry, who would you prefer to carry it out on?

This article first appeared in Young Dentist magazine. You can read the latest issue here.

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