When dental offices are asked why they avoid automated communication, a few of the same reasons come up. Change is scary; the patients are older; they love their staff, and don’t want to see them replaced with a machine. For these reasons, many practices do not make the switch to automated appointment reminders and other automated ways to engage with their patients. And, while it may be true that many older patients would be confused by an appointment reminder text, what automated messaging systems can offer is options! Intiveo, for example, offers the ability to contact your patients by email, text, or phone.
However, the misconception here is that offices swap seasoned staff for software. In practice, automated messaging systems simply support staff in their job, helping them deliver more personal attention to patients. Patient engagement software is the handy sidekick to your superhero of a practice, lending a much-needed hand whilst not undermining the importance of the human element.
What Your Staff Has That Software Doesn’t
Your staff has talents a software program doesn’t have. Empathy – the human connection to patient care – is at the top of that list, and it’s one of the most important aspects of your practice. But when menial tasks get in the way of quality patient care, it’s time to find a better solution. It’s hard for your staff to remember to be empathetic when they are spending countless hours phoning to do manual appointment reminders! Handwritten dental recall cards (the kind that gets pulped in the laundry) and manual calling are fast becoming a thing of the past; instead, practices are opting to send automated appointment reminders straight to the patient’s phone – avoiding the wash cycle altogether!
How Do Automated Appointment Reminders Work?
So, how do automated appointment reminders work? This may seem like a very obvious question in our day in age. However, many people don’t know the answer!
These reminders – such as an appointment confirmation text – are sent straight to your phone (by text, email, or phone call, depending on your preference). With a one-click calendar link to help keep the schedule clear, this brings modern convenience to medicine. Patients love the user-friendly nature of digital appointment reminders and handy extras like pre-treatment advice. Meanwhile, your practice benefits from greater efficiency and more successful appointments. The customizable messaging settings mean you don’t have to take a one-size-fits-all approach, while the appointment reminder templates ensure you don’t spend time agonizing over message content.
Automated appointment reminders don’t diminish human interaction, either. They help increase your staff’s ability to talk with people and give them more personal attention since they aren’t overwhelmed by massive reminder call lists. For those few patients that do still need a phone call, the experience is less rushed, so they don’t feel like they’re hassling your practice. Patient satisfaction is key to patient-centered care, as the NSDA is keen to point out: in their patient communication guide, they note that “evidence has demonstrated a positive association between a patient’s satisfaction with the care they receive and their provider’s ability and willingness to communicate and empathize with them.”
The Many Benefits of Appointment Reminder Software
Of course, appointment reminder software doesn’t just have a positive effect on the patient experience and dentist-patient communication. It can transform your office’s productivity and dramatically reduce no-shows and cancellations. The University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center, an urban academic dental center, published an internal study in the Journal of Dental Education, where they describe the effect that an automated confirmation system had on their practice. After implementing the system, they reported the following:
“The clinical areas that have benefited the most are General Dentistry, where the no-show rate dropped from 23.67 percent to 19.77 percent, and Pediatric Dentistry, dropping from 29.42 percent to 25.25 percent. Given the volume of patient visits these improvements represent, we estimate that we have increased our patient care revenue by $473,000 during the twelve months. With the increase in attended appointments, our resource utilization has improved, and our front-end staff has been able to focus their attention on face-to-face customer relations.”
Patient communication software helps to foster a more holistic approach to running a dental practice and improving patient care. As the doctors at Eastman Dental Center say at the end of their study: “The ability to place confirmation calls after normal business hours, to have a consistent routine of confirming each appointment, and to be able to refocus front-end staff on tasks that create a more patient-centered approach has made a consequential difference.”
From Appointment Reminders to Patient Engagement
Automated appointment reminders are a great way to improve the quality of patient care, increase efficiency, and reliability of office tasks. In addition, they can reduce patient no-shows and cancellations. Fear of change does not need to stand in the way of progress! With automated messaging software, your team can put their best attributes to use while saving time on menial tasks. With this technology, your staff can spend more meaningful time with each patient as they gain back the precious hours they used to spend doing manual reminders. As a result, you will both build better relationships with patients and win their trust in your practice.
At Intiveo, we speak with customers every day who see the benefit of patient engagement software at their practices. Our product is the number one choice for OMS practices and academic dental institutions in Canada and the United States, and supports both general practitioners as well as specialty practices of all types. We are also proud to support multi-location practices and DSOs. Intiveo offers a number of resources to support your practice, from messaging templates to ROI calculators to guides covering the issues that affect your practice. If you’re curious to learn more about how patient engagement software makes a difference at dental practices across the United States and Canada, check out our case studies!
Curious to learn more about how Intiveo can elevate your practice? Book a meeting today!