In 2020, in response to COVID-19, dentists throughout the country adopted teledentistry options to continue serving their patients safely. Since then, many dental practice owners have realized that virtual appointments are a valuable long-term addition to their online marketing strategy.
Could this strategy work for your practice, too?
What is teledentistry?
Teledentistry is the process of virtually providing dental care, consultation, or education to patients.
The 3 most common types of teledentistry appointments include:
- Evaluations — To discuss and determine next steps for an emergent dental or oral health issue. Example: A patient chipped a tooth and isn’t sure what to do next.
- Assessments/Pre-screening — To answer questions about a service, offer patient education, and outline next steps. Example: A patient is interested in Invisalign.
- Check-ins—To supervise patients after surgical or orthodontic treatment. Example: Checking in on how a patient is feeling after a gum graft.
In all these scenarios, teledentistry leverages technology and communication, allowing patients to see and talk to a dentist online.
Do patients like teledentistry?
Surveys report a 97% satisfaction rate from patients after a teledentistry consultation. And 78% of patients say they would use teledentistry services. It’s easy to understand why. Most people have come to expect a certain level of convenience in their lives (think Uber, GrubHub, and Amazon Prime). Teledentistry fits right into this modern-day experience.
As dental practices consider how to market this service, it’s as simple as considering the patient benefits:
- Avoid having to take time out of their day to drive to their appointment
- No sitting in a waiting room
- Safety (especially in the midst of a pandemic)
- Getting a quick answer to their problem or question
- Less chance of feeling nervous or dealing with dental anxiety
Looking to the future, it’s clear that patients will not only be happy that you’re offering virtual options, but expect them.
How does teledentistry benefit your practice?
Improved patient experience
Teledentistry can inspire better oral hygiene in patients who are hesitant about booking a normal appointment. It’s an easy first step toward building trust and getting these patients in through the door. Like we mentioned before, it’s also incredibly convenient and creates a loyal patient base.
Every time a patient steps into your office, you’re spending money beyond just providing your services. With teledentistry, appointments take less time and limit routine expenses, reducing your overhead costs.
Patients expect to see teledentistry as an integral part of mainstream dental health care. However, not every dental practice has yet adopted this modern service. Offering teledentistry will give you an edge over your competitors, bringing in new patients who are specifically seeking this service.
How to start offering teledentistry services
- Legality — First and foremost, review your area’s Dental Practice Act and contact your dental board for clarification to understand the definition of use of teledentistry in your state (though most states are teledentistry friendly). Additionally, make sure you maintain HIPAA compliance and protect PHI while adopting these services.
- Platform — Video chat apps like FaceTime and Zoom will not protect you or provide a teledentistry record. Choose an option that ensures HIPAA compliance.
- Scheduling — We recommend giving patients the option to schedule their virtual appointment with just a click of a button. Online scheduling is convenient for your patients and your front desk staff.
- Details — Finalize details like the cost of virtual appointments (check with your payors and get guidance if needed from your state board on how/what you can charge), who conducts the appointments, and what they include.
Promote your teledentistry services
You should never adopt a new service or patient offering without integrating it into your marketing strategy. To give yourself a competitive advantage over practices that aren’t adopting teledentistry options, make sure your patients and potential patients know that you offer this service. Here’s a good place to start:
- Calls-To-Action (CTA): Add “virtual appointment” CTAs on relevant pages on your website.
- Google Ads: People are searching for teledentistry appointments. Target these individuals in your area with a Google Ads campaign.
- Landing page: When patients click on your Google Ads, make sure you’re sending them to a conversion-optimized landing page. This page should describe the benefits of this service and convince them to book an appointment.
- Update website content: As you’re updating your website with information about virtual appointments, conduct keyword research to make sure you optimize for organic search.
- Social media & more: Make sure you update your social media accounts and GMB listing as well to reflect this service.
Drive more new patients through teledentistry and a modern marketing strategy
In the midst of the changes and uncertainty that came with 2020, one thing is sure — as the market shifts and patient expectations evolve, your practice needs to change with it. There has never been a better time to capitalize on this modern service and position your practice as a leader in your community.
At Delmain, we help practice owners with ineffective marketing consistently increase new patient flow, freeing up their time to focus on clinical care and growing their practice. Whether it’s teledentistry services, a modern website design, or a cohesive and effective marketing strategy, we can help your practice be successful in 2021 and beyond.