The Dental Patient and the Consumer Experience
Did you know that 42% of dental patients say they would be more engaged if they were contacted between visits?
Today, dental patients expect an excellent consumer experience in addition to good dental care. As an industry, what we are discovering is that expectations are high. Patients want your practice to engage with them. Dentistry is different from many other medical fields because we have to maintain a competitive edge. This is where good communication with your patients plays a huge role.
But what does that look like? How can an automated appointment reminder, say, or a text about what to expect at an appointment, really help your dental practice? What are the important elements to bear in mind?
At Intiveo, we can help you answer some of those questions. In the context of good patient communication, appointment reminders are instrumental in patient retention.
Let’s talk about how.
Customize Your Communication to Your Patient’s Needs
Dental practices are built around patient relationships. Good communication with your patients is the key element to many processes in your practice, including:
- preparedness for appointments
- billing expectations
- at-home maintenance of your patient’s dental health
- coming to appointments on time
- and more
Through patient communication software, maintaining that communication relationship is that much easier. Many dental practices report an increase in revenue after switching to patient communication software. In particular, using appointment reminders means for fewer missed appointments!
Appointment reminders require customization. After all, your patients will come prepared differently for a cleaning than they will for bone graft! Customizing according to appointment type has several benefits, such as:
- patients are more likely to have followed pre-appointment instructions (fasting, etc.)
- patients are more likely to come mentally prepared for any procedures they may have to undergo
- avoiding costly cancellations when the appointment can’t be carried out as planned
Appointment reminders are especially important to the business side of your dental practice. Reducing cancellations and no-shows increases revenue. But more importantly, it maintains that essential communication relationship with your patient. It brings back their business.
At Intiveo, we believe in making appointment reminders user-friendly. We want to make scheduling easy and straightforward. Our HIPAA compliant program includes a scheduler that updates in close to real time. You will be able to see the most up-to-date information about booked and confirmed appointments.
Fitting an appointment reminder into your patient’s already busy life can take many forms. Intiveo allows you to customize by sending the appointment reminder by text, email, or voice. Communicating via text is especially important when retaining younger patients. Intiveo’s 2-way chat allows you to talk with your patience in real time, increasing that patient engagement.
Get started with an Intiveo free trial today!
Appointment Reminders in the Right Way
But what is it about this instant communication that keeps patients engaged? For one thing, your patient gets a clear signal that you matter to them. You convey something important: it’s not just your patient’s dental health that matters. How they feel at your office matters. How they feel about their appointment matters. You convey that you want to keep providing them with excellent service.
It’s not just about making your patients feel good, however. The right content is essential. Include key instructions in your appointment reminders so that your patients come prepared.
Not only this, but your communication tools matter!
Some patients prefer phone call reminders, but generally speaking, text and email are more convenient. It’s important to ask your patient how they want to receive their appointment reminders. This added level of customization improves your patient’s experience with your dentistry practice. By adding links to your dental website to the text or email, you can bring your patient into a whole online experience.
Many of Intiveo’s clients report that their patients missed fewer appointments after they switched to automatic appointment reminders. Altoona Centre for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery reported that they had a 90% decrease in appointment cancellations. Central Valley Dental Implant & Oral Surgery Institute saw a 28% increase in patients following pre-op instructions. This resulted in, overall, 98% of the patients that came into their office were prepared for their appointments. These are all factors that contribute to an increase in revenue for a dentistry practice.
Our world is very fast-paced. Appointment reminders get your patient’s attention, while also folding in seamlessly with the many other notifications they receive.
Jay and Ami: A Tale of Two Appointment Reminders
Let’s contrast two hypothetical scenarios where text-based communication helped your patient. Consider the following:
- You have a patient named Jay, a young entrepreneur who works from home. Your dental practice calls to remind Jay about their appointment, which is tomorrow. Jay looks at their phone. Jay sees an unknown number, and then sees that this unknown number leaves a message. Immediately afterwards, two important clients text Jay to request meetings. Jay responds to these immediately, but before getting to the voicemail, Jay has to join a Zoom meeting. By the time end-of-day rolls around, Jay has forgotten about the voicemail. Jay misses their appointment the following day.
- You have a patient named Ami, who has two children under five and stays at home with them. One goes to preschool in the morning and the other goes to daycare in the afternoon. In addition, today Ami has to go grocery shopping. While they’re all waiting in the line-up at the grocery store between pick up and drop off, a text appointment reminder from your dentistry practice comes through on Ami’s phone. Ami immediately sees your practice’s name at the top of the text, and sees the date – tomorrow – and time of the appointment. The text also includes fasting instructions. With the information all together like this, Ami can look at the instruction in her own time. The next day, Ami arrives for the appointment having followed the instructions. Ami’s dentist is able to carry out the appointment.
Retaining Ami as a patient will be easier, because your practice is building up rapport with Ami. You are conveying necessary information in a way that’s convenient for Ami’s busy lifestyle. Ami feels prepared and valued as a patient.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, dentistry has had some ups and downs. As in many medical fields, non-essential procedures have been delayed. This continues today. The WHO (World Health Organization) continues to recommend a delay in routine dental procedures. So, it’s important to stay connected! You can remind your patients that they will eventually need those routine check-ups and cleanings. You stay on your patients’ radar. You show your patients that their dental health matters. You’re consistent. Eventually, when the world goes back to normal, those patients are more likely to come back to your practice.
When your patient has one of those essential appointments, include a pre-appointment screening in their reminder. You can also send a post-appointment symptom survey. This shows your patients how seriously you take their health and safety. At Intiveo, we make setting up the screening forms easy. It includes a set of questions recommended by governing bodies about Covid-19 symptoms. This way, you ask the right question to ensure everyone’s health. This goes a long way to keep your staff and your patients safe.
With meaningful appointment reminders, you are more likely to instill confidence and a sense of consistency with your patients. This makes them more likely to return to your practice for their dental health needs.
The Ongoing Rapport
Appointment reminders are just one step on the patient’s journey. Preparing your patient for their appointment is important. In a way, appointment reminders open doors to other kinds of ‘right message, right time’ moments with your patients. But, so is following up afterwards. You can ask for feedback about the appointment. You can invite a review. Then, you can also invite them to share their experience on social media.
Reputation management is an important part of patient retention. Beginning with an appointment reminder, you can then build the rapport that facilitates a good review.
Delivering Excellent Dental Care
Patient communication is an essential tool for your dental practice. Your practice will thrive when you are connected to your patients! Ensure that that connection is meaningful by sending the right message at the right time. Appointment reminders communicate the essentials. Your patient receives the information they need to be ready for their appointment. Not to mention, the reminder itself that the appointment is taking place!
When you give patients an excellent consumer experience, they will return to your practice. Automate your appointment reminders so you can focus on the important stuff: delivering excellent dental care!