BANNOCKBURN, IL., March 19, 2020 - More than one in three (36%) Americans have switched dentists or dental providers in the last five years because their dentist/dental provider was not covered under their insurance (48%) or because the practice did not have updated technology (6%), the waiting room at patient areas were not aesthetically pleasing (5%). When it comes to choosing a new provider, Americans not only choose a provider who is covered by their insurance (35%), they also base their choice on references they’ve received from a family or friend (44%), and whether or not the provider has a practice with updated technology (12%) and a clean work environment (11%).
That’s according to findings from the new study, “Patient Experience in Dental Practices Report,” conducted by Stericycle, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRCL), the leading provider of compliance-based solutions that protect people and brands, promote health and safeguard the environment.
The survey of 1,200 Americans and 400 dental professionals also uncovered the biggest safety risks within a dental practice. Both Americans (39%) and dental professionals (47%) agree the biggest safety risk in a dental practice is the sanitization of tools (or lack thereof). Americans (23%) and dental professionals (25%) also agree the second biggest safety risk is distraction while performing procedures or exams. However, 98% of dental professionals believe they prioritize patient safety in every visit/procedure.
“The Patient Experience in Dental Practices Report reveals not only how today’s patients perceive their care in dental settings, but how dental professionals are prioritizing patient experiences through a continued focus on education and training,” said Cindy Miller, Chief Executive Officer at Stericycle. “From HIPAA and OSHA training to drug prescription protocols, dental professionals are taking the necessary steps to enhance patient care with every visit.”
The study shows that dental professionals are already taking steps to enhance patient care by educating themselves on new dental procedures and tools (54%), exploring and investing in new technology for the practice, such as updated x-ray machines, laser treatments, etc. (15%), supplying clients with feedback forms after their visit (14%), providing more transparency upfront about the cost of care (11%) and implementing new pain management techniques (5%).
Additional findings include:
- Dental professionals are focused on patient safety. When it comes to following on-the-job safety protocols during a patient’s visit, two in five (40%) have had updated training on OSHA protocols in the past six months. To ensure a patient follows safety protocols after a visit or procedure that involves the patient taking prescription medication, dental professionals are also working to reduce the risk of prescription drug diversion and improper disposal. More than three in four (76%) dental professionals have had training on prescribing prescription drugs such as opioids to patients, and nearly all (92%) say they’ve talked with their patients about how to properly dispose of any unused medication.
- Data breaches are more common in dental practices than Americans think, but dental practices are doing more to protect patients. While the majority of Americans (70%) say their dental practice has not had a breach of patient data, one in three (31%) dental professionals say their practices have had a breach of patient data. Following swift security protocol, nearly half (46%) of all practices that experience a breach notified their patients immediately and updated security protocols (14%). Additionally, dental practices are instituting more frequent HIPAA training to ensure patient data is protected with nearly half (42%) of all dental professionals reporting they’ve had training on HIPAA protocols in the past two to six months.
- Americans say pain management technology (24%) and online scheduling/communication tools (22%) are the most important technologies that a dental practice can have. Seventy percent of dental professionals say their practice offers online care options to patients, but just 31% offer pain management technology.
- Dental practices are making aesthetic improvements to their offices and investing in updated tools to improve the patient experience. Nearly one in three (29%) dental professionals say their office space was renovated in the last two years, one in three (33%) updated dental technology (e.g. updated x-ray machines, laser tech, no needle anesthesia, etc.) in the last year, almost half (44%) updated to the latest health record systems (e.g. EHRs, online patient portals, etc.) in the last 6 months, and more than half (54%) bought new dental tools (e.g. scrapers, toothbrushes, mirrors, etc.) in the last six months.
For more information about Stericycle and the “Patient Experience in Dental Practices” report, click here to read the full report.
Stericycle, Inc., (Nasdaq: SRCL) is a U.S. based business-to-business services company and leading provider of compliance-based solutions that protect people and brands, promote health and safeguard the environment. Stericycle serves more than one million customers in all 50 U.S. states and 21 countries worldwide with solutions for regulated waste management, secure information destruction, compliance and customer contact. For more information about Stericycle, please visit www.stericycle.com.
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