Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare.
As a dentist with a humble background, I started my private practice career the hard way. In 1995, I had just returned from my Prosthodontics training in the USA and with no prior private practice experience in Singapore, I had no patient goodwill to talk about.
I started practising at the Promenade (now known as Paragon) located in the Orchard Road area with one patient a day. On some days, I had no patients at all. This made me appreciate every patient I had and I tried to do my best for every patient. I was very thankful that they gave me an opportunity to serve them and I built great relationships with them.
Last year, in an interview with the Straits Times on our clinic being a Finalist for the “Best Healthcare Experience” category in the Singapore Experience Award, I was quoted as saying “The Patient is the Boss.” We truly believe in this philosophy.
Time and again, I have reminded our staff that it is the patient who gives us an opportunity to serve and the fees they pay us goes toward their salary. Thus it is important to ensure that the patient receives good service and is happy with us. We also try to build a service culture by consistent training and we have even take time off from our busy practice to run training courses for our dentists and staff.
These past few days, I have noticed that my staff were stressed. Apparently, a patient had expressed unhappiness with our service and had called to complain. What stressed the staff was that the patient was rude and abusive on the phone.
We treat every complaint with great attention because we believe that the feedback gives us an opportunity to improve. And the fact that the patient bothered to take time to complain means that the patient wants to give us a second chance. However, it does not give any patient the right to abuse our staff. I called the patient personally to understand what the patient’s concerns were. I also emphasized to the patient that she had no right to be rude to my staff.
I am glad I made the phone call. We treat every patient with respect and we expect the same in return.
In the doctor-patient relationship, apart from the delivery of excellent clinical care, trust and respect play an important role in ensuring a positive experience for everyone involved.
Dr Neo Tee Khin is a Director and Prosthodontist with Specialist Dental Group. He is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer with the National University of Singapore and an American-Board certified prosthodontist. Dr Neo is regularly invited to speak at dental conferences in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the region. He has a special interest in dental implants, crowns and the NobelGuide Teeth-in-an-Hour implant procedure. For more on Dr Neo, click here.