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3 Ways Technology Helps Dentists With Patient Communication

Technology for Dental Patient CommunicationIf you’re anything like me (and most of our faculty), you like your gadgets and apps. I’ve got my smartphone, tablet, computer and an apple TV just to name a few. And of course, each of those devices have all kinds of apps on them.

These devices and apps help make my life easier – I can get directions to a new place without studying a map. I can avoid waiting in line at the bank by depositing a check via my phone. And I can even check in to a flight and access my boarding pass on my phone. But technology and apps don’t just help in our personal lives, they can help when it comes to a dental practice.

The following are a few ways that technology can help you and your team communicate with patients and some cool tools to check out.

Communicating Appointments

It goes without saying that no-shows hurt your bottom-line and overall productivity. We’ve talked about this topic before on our blog and in our team training courses.

What are some ways you can significantly reduce no-shows?

Your first line of defense against broken appointments is to educate your patients in their hygiene appointment. Educate them on how important it is to come to their appointments and the consequences of missing them. If your patients understand the importance, they are more likely to make them a priority on their schedule.

Not making appointments a priority isn’t the only reason patients are a no-show. Often they forget all together about their appointment. This is where technology can really help your team. Instead of manually going through upcoming appointments and calling them, you can automate the process through technology. Plus, not everyone likes to be contacted via phone. Some of your patients will prefer to receive an email reminder or text message.

There are many tools on the market for appointment reminders with different unique features and benefits. The best ones we’ve seen can automatically remind patients via email, text message, and/or phone call. And these same types of software often have other benefits that help increase your practice’s productivity & patient communication.

Some of the technologies our faculty & students like to use are Solution Reach & Lighthouse 360.

Communicating Treatment Plans

Getting patients to accept treatment is another major pain-point of Dentists around the world. People don’t inherently just trust what their health professionals tell them anymore. So if a patient doesn’t fully understand what is wrong with them and what the treatment entails, they are unlikely to accept your plan.

How do you effectively communicate their condition and your treatment plan?

First, it is important you thoroughly understand their condition and the treatment plan you are suggesting. One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein, who said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Taking a course with us or watching our alumni association webinars can help you become more confident in your understanding of conditions and treatments.

With that said, a breakdown in communication may not be from your lack of understanding, but rather the manner in which you are communicating. This is where technology can become a great aid.

Use your camera. Make sure to use your digital photos from the patient’s records. Photos are a great way to point out what is going on in a patient’s mouth. And unlike a mirror, digital photos have the added benefit of zoom so they can see the problem closer up. 

Use illustrations and animations. Using illustrations or animations can be a great aid while you explain conditions, treatments, and consequences of not seeking treatment. Guru Dental has a great library of animations for different conditions and treatments. Plus, the software allows you to email those animations to patients after you present your treatment plan to them.

Communicating Appreciation

Customer service & appreciation is key in most industries. The dental industry is most definitely one of them. When your patients are thrilled with you, they’re more likely to keep coming back. Additionally, they’re more likely to refer their friends and family to you. What that ultimately means for your practice is that you have to do less work marketing and you likely have more pleasant patients.

Great customer service & appreciation starts in the office during appointments. Nothing can replace your team’s attentiveness & helpfulness. Things like offering your patients water while they’re waiting, being timely to start appointments, smiling, and asking your patients how they are go a long way.

How do you keep them feeling appreciated and reminded of how much they like you between appointments?

Mail them a card. It always feels nice to get a birthday card or thank you note in the mail. Try using a service like Send Out Cards to automate the process of mailing your patients personalized thank you and birthday cards.

Drop them an email. As I mentioned earlier in this article, many of the appointment reminder tools also have other features. Some of these features include surveys after an appointment and happy birthday messages. Utilize these features to give added touches to your patients between appointments.

There are countless more technologies I did not mention to help Dentists and their teams communicate with patients. And there are countless more ways that technology helps a dental practice. Always remember that no matter what tool or technology you are using, nothing takes the place of you and your team members being educated and organized.

What are you favorite tips or tools for patient communication?

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Virginia Bussey is the Director of Marketing & Communications at The Dawson Academy, an international dental continuing education provider based in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is the 2016 marketing co-chair for St. Pete Young Professionals and serving on the marketing committee for Engage St. Pete. Bussey has been published on Yahoo Small Biz, Business2Community, Social Media Today and HubSpot for her expertise in Inbound and Digital Marketing. She is currently writing a marketing workbook to help small to medium-sized businesses easily create effective marketing plans that bridge both traditional and digital marketing channels. She is a proud alumnae of the University of Florida's Journalism and Communications College, where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Advertising.