What Are the Benefits of Patient Engagement?
Many industry experts discuss different ways to engage your patients. A solid patient engagement strategy has become an essential part of delivering care. As a result, it’s a priority for many dentistry practices.
It’s one thing to know this is important – but another to fully understand what the benefits of patient engagement are.
Why stay top of mind? Why improve the chances of patients recommending you? What are the main benefits of a patient engagement strategy?
We’ve identified ten that show what makes it so worthwhile.
#1: It’s More Efficient for Your Staff
Having a clear patient engagement strategy is easier on your staff. Your staff will know what to do at each touchpoint – what information to send, who to send it to, and how to send it.
Patient engagement can also often involve a lot of automation. This can be especially beneficial, since automating messages to patients makes staff time more efficient. For example, contacting patients by text or email instead of by phone saves on work time.
Making things more efficient for your staff benefits patients as well. Since staff are able to better use their time, they are able to give each patient the time and care they deserve.
A patient engagement strategy results in a perfect harmony: efficient staff, happy patients!
#2: It Increases Patient Loyalty
When you build your patient engagement strategy around the needs of your patients, you increase patient loyalty. Your engagement strategy will often include contacting your patients at specific touchpoints during their journey with your practice.
For example, a patient who is coming to your practice for a routine cleaning will have different needs than a patient who needs an extraction. Engagement for a cleaning might include:
- An email containing the details of the appointment at the time of booking
- A reminder text message 48 hours beforehand containing essential details, asking the patient to confirm
- Another reminder text 2 hours beforehand
- A thank you and a request for a Google review at the conclusion of the appointment
For an extraction, engaging at these touchpoints is important, too – but a few more points of contact are required. For example, these might include:
- A reminder by text message or email 24 hours before the appointment to fast and to take any pre-medications that are required
- An email after the appointment giving full details of aftercare
Attention to these kinds of details will show your patient that your practice cares about them having a successful experience, which will keep them coming back to practice again and again.
#3: Education About Dental Health Brings in More Patients
Because dental care is not covered by most universal health care initiatives in the United States and Canada, it can be challenging to bring patients into the dental office. Other, more accessible types of medical care become your patient’s priority.
This is why educating patients about dental health is so important! Education about dental health helps your patients understand why they should prioritize it.
Be sure to use the right channels for this. Patients generally do not want text messages sent at random, telling them about why their teeth are important. However, framing an email around a routine reminder for a cleaning or bi-annual dental check-up is a perfect opportunity to discuss the overall impacts of good dental health.
Patients who understand the benefits of good dental health are more likely to come into your practice and book those necessary appointments. This benefits their long-term health.
#4: It Results in Better Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Part of the purpose of a patient engagement strategy is remaining top of mind. This can be accomplished a few different ways:
- Communicating at different touchpoints during the patient’s journey
- Sending holidays greetings
- Sending reminders about routine procedures such as a cleaning
- Incorporating opportunities to educate patients about dental health
By remaining top of mind, you are more likely to be the dentist that your patients recommend to others. This increases the likelihood of word-of-mouth referrals! Potential patients often rely on the recommendations of friends and family to choose a dentist.
Find the right balance of messaging to achieve those trusted, word-of-mouth recommendations!
#5: Better Prepared Patients
Being prepared helps support a great outcome for your patients. This comes down to how you communicate and what you communicate to them.
The How: Find the sweet spot for the right number of touchpoints for each procedure. A routine appointment requires fewer touchpoints. A major procedure, on the other hand, requires more! It is also important to communicate with your patient the way they like. A younger patient might prefer a text message, whereas an older patient might prefer a phone call!
The What: It’s essential to give your patients the information they need for a successful appointment. Be sure to include:
- Details about their appointment (fasting, pre-medications, time, date, etc.)
- Details about your practice (parking, wellness surveys, policies)
A prepared patient does not cancel their appointment! An engagement strategy results in fewer cancellations for your practice.
#6: Reduction in Missed Appointments
Your patient engagement strategy will always include reminders. These reminders may be about appointments, medications to take before a procedure, fasting, or more.
A reminder is perhaps the most essential building block of patient engagement. You want your patient to come to their appointment. And your patients’ lives are busy! In our modern world, we require constant reminders to accomplish any number of tasks.
The main benefit of a reminder is that it reduces missed appointments. A missed appointment is frustrating for staff and patients alike! Engage your patient with appropriate reminders and you will be able to reduce those missed appointments.
#7: Loyal Patients Become Online Advocates
The best advocate for your practice is someone who knows it best – that means your patients! Engaged patients feel cared for by their dentist. A small thing like a well-timed reminder or a holiday greeting can go a long way to maintaining a patient’s loyalty.
As part of an engagement strategy, you will likely ask your patients for a review. Google reviews tend to be the most powerful since they boost you in their algorithm.
This is where your loyal patients come in!
If you have offered great oral health care and carry out a solid patient engagement strategy, you already have fertile ground for a good review. Ask for that review and you will see the positive outcome of great engagement. Your patients will be advocates for your practice!
#8: Your Patients Feel Valued Through Personalization
A patient engagement strategy usually allows you to personalize your messaging for each patient. This goes a long way toward making your patient feel valued.
Personalization can take many forms, including:
- Using the patient’s name instead of an anonymous form
- Contacting them the way they want – by phone, text, or email
- Allowing them to opt out of optional messaging such as newsletters or holiday greetings
- And more
Personalization as part of an engagement strategy benefits your practice because your patient feels like a partner.
#9: Communication About Aftercare Results in a Successful Outcome
When we talk about patient engagement, we tend to focus on the messages we send before an appointment. But good communication doesn’t end there!
When dental procedures require aftercare, we continue that communication. This can take many forms:
- Sending the patient home with hardcopy instructions for aftercare
- Sending instructions for aftercare either by email, either instead of hardcopy or in addition to it
- Following up by phone, depending on the type of procedure
- Scheduling a follow-up appointment with the appropriate reminders
The benefit of communication about aftercare is that it helps support a successful outcome. The patient has access to the right steps to create that outcome.
Successful outcomes not only result in great oral health care – they also result in patient loyalty and returning business!
#10: It Helps Increase Revenue
Inevitably, a dental practice is not just a health provider. It is also a business. And, of course, businesses must meet their bottom line.
This is where patient engagement comes in. As we’ve seen, when dental practices engage with their patients, we see the following:
- More loyal patients
- A reduction in missed appointments
- Successful outcomes
- And more
What this allows you to do is meet your bottom line – and exceed it. One of the biggest benefits of patient engagement is increased revenue for your practice.
Making Patient Engagement Easy
Patient engagement has a number of benefits. Showing that you value and respect your patients goes a long way toward a successful practice. An engaged patient returns to your practice. An engaged patient also recommends your practice to others.
At Intiveo, we understand how helpful automated messaging can be! Patient communication software can make this easy. This is where we can help.
Book a meeting now to start connecting with your patients.