Communication is the foundation for building long-lasting relationships with your patients. Effective patient communication builds trust, and that affects patient retention, referrals, case acceptance, broken or missed appointments, and everything in between. Your patient communication often starts before they even step foot in your practice. In order to grow your practice, you have to reach patients where it counts. In this busy and mobile world, that means making full use of online access and communication tools. The road to building a roster of loyal patients starts with their first interaction with you, and Open Dental has the tools to make each step seamless.
Patients are increasingly using online methods to research and select providers. Your website plays an important role as the online face of your practice, and optional eServices from Open Dental can make your website work even harder for you.
Embedding Web Sched into your website allows new patients to enter their basic information and book their first appointment online without having to call your practice. Their new patient record is automatically created in Open Dental, and their appointment instantly appears on the schedule. Existing patients can schedule their recall appointments using Web Sched Recall.
Whether you need new patients to complete a series of forms or existing patients to update their medical history forms before their next visit, Web Forms can give your patients the freedom to fill out forms online when it’s convenient for them. It’s also a huge time-saver for you – simply retrieve and import the form information. Linked allergies, medications, and medical problems will now be part of the patient record, and quickly accessible by the doctor.
A recent study by the Contact Center Satisfaction Index found that texting was the highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction out of all the other communication channels. Text messages have a 98% open rate, compared to 20% for email. That makes sense, considering how much spam we receive via email in any given day. Compare that with texts – with the bulk of texts coming in from family, friends, and other sources we have cared enough to add to our phone, we don’t want to miss anything important. Text recipients usually respond within the first hour, which is terrific if you’re waiting for an appointment confirmation. Below are some eServices you can add to streamline and automate your patient communication.
- Set up eReminders to send automated appointment reminders at intervals you specify.
- Text individual patients directly from their patient account and receive their replies.
- Set up eConfirmations to automate sending and receiving appointment confirmations. Based on the interval you specify, an auto-generated appointment confirmation request goes out to your patient’s mobile device. The best part – patients don’t have to remember to call you back. They receive your confirmation request, respond to confirm their appointment, and their appointment status is updated in the schedule.
Efficient and effective patient communication can be the difference between a full schedule and open chairs you’re scrambling to fill. Sandy Pardue, Dental Consultant with Classic Practice Resources, has been studying patient retention and recall practices for many years and knows what delivers results. “I believe every practice should be texting” she says. “Patients respond quickly to texts, and prefer texts to emails.” We couldn’t agree more! If your practice isn’t using texting as part of your patient communication process, call us – we’ll get you set up to start texting today.
Continuing to engage with your patients is an important part of building patient loyalty. Stay on top of Recall. Periodic reminders not only help you stay in touch, but are essential for your patients’ oral health, to prevent small issues from becoming big problems. Find fun, friendly and creative ways to stay in touch with your patients. Send them a birthday card. Invite them to connect with you on Social Media. Host an Open House and invite them to bring their family and friends. You may consider some giveaway items with your practice name & logo, like a water bottle, pen, or refrigerator magnet. You’ll be the first ones they think of when they or a loved one needs dental care.
Everyone likes to feel appreciated and valued. Let your loyal patients know you appreciate them. If your patients refer someone to your practice, send them a token of your appreciation for their confidence in you. You may offer longevity awards at different anniversary points to reward long-term patients or a “Smile Award” for those sweet patients who make you smile 🙂 Get creative, let them know you’re glad they’ve chosen you, and continue to stay with your practice for their care.
Check out our eServices Bundle to get all of our eServices for one low monthly rate.
View our YouTube eServices Playlist for more information on how to use these features.