At your dental practice, your patients come first. That’s why you’re committed to improving the patient experience. You want your patients to be engaged with your dentistry practice. In our busy world, an appointment reminder has become an integral part of improving that patient experience!
Let’s see how.
Appointment Reminders: the Context
It’s important to contextualize how appointment reminders improve the patient experience. To do this, we need to talk about how healthcare has had to meet consumer expectations. Dental care is no exception. Patients now expect not just great dental care, but a great consumer experience, like the ones they get at the hair salon or ordering something online. Patients have come to expect their dental practices to offer such things as:
- remote consultations
- mobile services that are sensitive to location
- immediate connectivity
Before the pandemic hit, we already knew that a very high level of information was shared over mobile devices. With the pandemic, we can only guess how much more information is now shared via mobile devices. This indicates how important it is to have a secure, fully HIPAA-compliant online experience for your patients. But it also indicates how used we are to immediate connectivity between a consumer and a business, or between the dental practice and their patient. Meeting these expectations can be quite a switch for many dental practices.
And this is good news! This opens up many new options for dental practices. The innovations of remote monitoring solutions, virtual appointments, and more, allow you to connect with your patients like never before. They get a sense of how much you care about both their health and their business.
It’s in this broader context that appointment reminders become so important!
Appointment reminders are an integral part of that connectivity. They are just one step on the journey that you will go on with your patients. But, in some ways, they are the most important step: the reminder to your patient to come into your business, to receive the service that you provide.
But how does that improve the patient experience? What are the benefits? Let’s discuss.
Appointment Reminders as Part of the Consumer Experience
Think for a moment about some of your best consumer experiences. What stuck out to you about them?
Many people would say that some of their best consumer experiences have been when the service was easy to use. The business that offered the service made it accessible. You may have felt that this communicated how much you as a consumer meant to them. They showed you that they wanted to see you. For example, let’s say you ordered a new coat online. The company you ordered it from not only sends you the customary confirmation but also sends you updates on shipping with consistency. This gives you a good sense of how long you’re going to wait for the package. You have a good sense of when it will arrive.
Of course, dental work is far more important than a package in the mail! But you can greatly improve your patient’s experience by maintaining this high level of communication. This is part of the function of appointment reminders. You set the patient’s expectations, then meet them. With a meaningful appointment reminder, you can do the following for your patient:
- provide them with the appropriate instructions for their upcoming appointment
- remind them of the exact date and time of the appointment
- foster a trust-based relationship where you signal how much you care about their business
- show your attentiveness to their dental health
- prompt them to engage in a fuller online experience with your practice
- and more
By sending meaningful content that keeps your patient informed about their upcoming appointment, you prepare them. Their experience is improved through clear expectations from your practice.
Plus, with an appointment reminder, patients are more likely to come to their appointments! Among many benefits, this means your patients are less frustrated because they don’t have to re-book.
Customize, Customize, Customize!
But what does this look like in action? A great example can be found at Intiveo. We focus on being present at every step of the patient’s journey. Our appointment reminders product allows you to customize it. This significantly improves the patient experience. Patients get information that is specific to them and their situation. These customizations include:
- the appointment type
- content of the message
- any special instructions
- the sending timeline
- the communication mode – email, SMS, or voice
As we have noted, appointment reminders help you reduce the number of unsuccessful appointments, which can be frustrating for dentists and patients alike. Another way that we seek to improve the patient experience is through our 2-way chat. This allows staff to update patients in almost real-time. The patient’s time is respected. They have a clear picture of when they will be seen.
Of course, during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a screening questionnaire in appointment reminders is of particular importance. This helps keep both your staff and patients safe. Plus, it signals to your patients how seriously you are taking this health crisis. It instills trust.
So what is this like for the patients themselves?
Meet Taylor, a patient at your OMS practice. Taylor has an appointment for a bone graft and has been selected to receive appointment reminders by text message. Before the appointment, Taylor receives a text message with a reminder of the date and time of the appointment. The text message includes pre-appointment instructions so that Taylor is prepared mentally and physically for the appointment. On the day of the appointment, Taylor waits in the parking lot of your practice in the virtual waiting room, receiving updates in almost real-time about the dentist’s schedule. The appointment is successful because of all these preliminary steps.
Curious to see it in action? Book a demo!
The Word from Dental Practices
Let’s look at a few case studies! After Central Valley Dental Implant & Oral Surgery Institute switched to Intiveo’s patient communication software, they saw a 28% increase in patients following pre-op instructions. As an OMS practice, this was crucial! Central Valley also saw a 50% increase in their confirmation rates, as well as a 70% increase in patients completing paperwork before an appointment.
Another OMS practice, Altoona Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, also noticed significant changes after they switched to Intiveo’s patient communication software. They saw not only a 75% increase in confirmations but also a 90% decrease in cancellations. Perhaps most significantly, they saw a 95% increase in patient reviews.
Lastly, let’s look at Conestoga Oral Surgery, which has three locations across Pennsylvania. At every location, patient communication is consistent. Patients use the Intiveo 2-way chat consistently as well.
What do all these numbers tell us?
They indicate many things, but one important takeaway is this: they show that patients are engaged. A patient that continues to engage is satisfied with their user experience at a dental practice. These patients are coming to appointments. They come prepared.
The Cycle of Communication
Appointment reminders are just one step on your patient’s journey. Before the appointment reminder, they’ve already interacted with you by booking the appointment. They may also be a returning patient! After the appointment is over, you will continue to connect with them via post-op instructions or appointment follow-ups. This is also your opportunity to request a review.
This comprehensive patient communication journey is integral to improving the patient experience. Appointment reminders are a key part of that journey. They’re another step on a continuing cycle of patient engagement that improves the patient experience.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, this cycle of patient engagement is especially essential. The WHO has continued to advise against routine dental procedures. An appointment reminder matters today because it’s often for really important procedures! It also might be the first time your patients have heard from you in a bit.
Keep engaged with your patient with that ongoing communication cycle!
Showing Your Patients That They Matter
Through customizing appointment reminders, you improve your patient’s experience. Patient communication software allows you to truly personalize your messaging. Communicating those essentials helps your patients be mentally and physically prepared for those appointments!