As we approach the last two months of the year, schedules become full as holiday time eats into available office hours and patients rush to utilize their year-end benefits. So how can you keep patients who may be less ‘patient’ happy while managing a limited schedule?
Know what patients find frustrating
It is frustrating to patients when an appointment experience is not what was expected. Having to make decisions they were not prepared for, experiencing problems they didn’t expect, or not leaving with an outcome they assumed increases patient stress and reduces their perception of your endodontic practice. And not being able to offer attractive appointment options because of a full schedule only increases their dissatisfaction.
Reduce their frustration and help them prepare
- Prepare your patients for their potential costs ahead of time. Even without a formal treatment plan, it’s possible to give patients a sense of what costs they may be facing in many cases. You can do this by quoting your patients a range of costs, or quote them a consultative cost plus a high side feel for what similar treatments have cost others if the treatment can be completed the same day.
- If your schedule allows for same day treatment, ask them if they want it instead of assuming it. Some patients may have anxiety and not wish same day treatment. Others may want same day treatment but want to know beforehand in order to psychologically prepare.
- If your schedule doesn’t allow for same day treatment, tell them beforehand.
- For those patients wanting treatment as fast as possible, emphasize that completing new patient paperwork before appointment time is crucial for prompt appointments and increases the chance of same-day treatment.
- Ask your referring practices to include the patient’s insurance policy information in the notes section of the referral form upon submission. Patients often struggle to obtain and relay their insurance information and most general dentist offices already have this information. Emphasize to your referring practices that your priority is to treat their patient as soon as possible and providing as much patient information as possible helps you do that.
Clarity and preparation make the difference with patients
Nobody likes surprises. The more your patients clearly understand what to expect from their appointment and prepare for it the better chance they have of having a good experience. Start by utilizing these simple tips and survive the holiday rush successfully!
We all know the drill (pun intended).
Every quarter it’s time to treat our referring offices to a care package to thank them for referring patients.
But before falling prey to the same old marketing habits, perhaps we should ask ourselves how much impact giving donuts or cookies with a quick ‘thank you’ really makes to our referrers:
•Is it of meaningful, memorable value to them?
•Does it help you stand out?
•Does it increase their confidence in your skills or patient care?
•Does it help them feel heard, that you are always looking to improve the service you provide them and that they matter?
A thank you is always good, but if it doesn’t accompany anything of meaningful substance or value, is it really making an impact on them and influencing their referring decision?
We performed a brief survey to find out how referring general dentist offices feel about quarterly care packages. The results may surprise you.
We asked both general dentists and their administrative staff what they find most influential in their referring decision to an endodontic practice and endodontist. Care packages? CE courses? Personal visits from a specialist? Biannual parties?
General Dentists emphasized prompt referral follow-up reporting as having the most direct influence on their referral decision. They also indicated that specialists who provided thought leadership and educational opportunities through CE courses strongly stood out to them.
Administrative staff noted ease and efficiency in the referral process — having an easy, secure way to get information to specialists, being kept informed of progress of specialist care, and receiving prompt, proactive follow-up reporting — strongly influenced which specialist they prefer working with. They also indicated meeting a specialist office’s team in-person helped them build close, trusting, and long-term relationships between offices.
Your referrers are the source of your patients, the source of your business. Instead of mindlessly following the latest marketing lore, consider doing things that can bring them meaningful value and help your office really stand out.
- When visiting your referrers ask questions. “How can we make your referral process easier?” “How can we improve the care we provide your patients?” “How can we make it easier and more efficient for you?” Listen carefully to their responses, take note, then extend a personal email or phone number and take action to follow-up on their requests.When we asked general dentist offices what most specialists did when visiting, every participant answered “They gave us a care package, said thank you for referring patients, and left” and nothing else. Asking questions can help you gain valuable insights into how you can better serve your referrers, tells them powerfully that they matter to you, and can help your office dramatically stand out.
- You, the doctor, visit personally, and bring key members of your team along if you can. An appearance by the doctor strongly tells the referrer they matter. And even if the visit ends up being short, seeing you and your team in person helps the general dentist staff associate smiling faces and warmth with your office and establish stronger ties.
- Consider hosting a CE course by inviting a dental market professional to speak. Introduce your office and staff in the first part of the presentation, educating them on the latest technology and techniques you offer patients.
These simple ideas can make your marketing investments more impactful and increase your return. It’s not the ‘donuts’ that deliver the impact. It’s the substance that you provide when making the delivery.
Keeping your production schedule full is difficult, and every hour unfilled is lost time. Lost Revenue. Treatments planned during consultation but never completed not only reduce successful patient outcomes but are also lost production opportunities for your endodontic practice. Increasing your patient acceptance ratio, the percentage of planned treatments that are actually completed, not only improves your patient outcomes but are also opportunities for keeping your production schedule more full — and your endodontic practice more prosperous.
So why do patients not complete some treatments that have been planned?
Sometimes it is because the patient doesn’t perceive urgency, either because of a lack of understanding of the condition or lack of symptoms. Another common reason is unfamiliarity with the treatment process, especially for patients with dental anxiety. Patient concern over the cost of the treatment and how to pay for it is also a prevalent reason for avoidance and delay.
So what more can you do?
Most patients don’t work in the dental profession. Be conscious of the language you use when counseling patients. Use analogies patients can relate to. Support and encourage your staff to make time spent with patients a priority. Cultivate a practice-wide attitude of patient respect and emotional care, speaking plainly without technical jargon to avoid patient sensitivity to being treated condescendingly. Encourage your staff to take the necessary time and use creativity when working through patient financial concerns, helping them envision the healthy future that will result from their investment.
It’s important to understand your staff is an extension of you. Develop their skills in alleviating patient concerns and helping patients imagine healthy, successful outcomes. Train them to be knowledgeable in treatment procedures, risks, side effects, and the reasons they are important for the patient’s health so they can support your diagnosis and urgency for treatment. Your staff must be able to clearly and accurately describe treatment in a calming and caring tone that emphasizes positive patient outcomes. Cohesive knowledge among staff members creates a comfortable and confident environment for patients to receive care, and increases staff poise and morale.
Then follow up with patients. Proactively reaching out to patients with treatments planned but not completed helps the patient understand the importance of the treatments and that your practice cares. It tells them that your endodontic practice is reliable and professional, increasing confidence in the care you provide.
Use gaps in your schedule as an opportunity to follow up with patients with unscheduled planned treatments. Tell your patients you care and invite them to come in during appropriate schedule gaps.
Every empty hour on your schedule that’s filled with unscheduled patient treatments is another hour of more patient care. Better patient outcomes. More production to help your endodontic practice thrive.
First impressions are important and having a great front office staff can make or break an endodontic practice. Yet are you doing all you can to help your front office staff thrive?
By taking time to listen to your staff and taming mundane tasks, you can turn your front office staff into customer care rockstars and ultimately help your practice grow.
Take Time to Listen
The first step to turning your front office staff into rockstars is to take the time to listen to their concerns, frustrations, and successes on a regular basis.
As the people who interact with your systems, referrers, and patients most closely on a daily basis, your front office staff best know what is going well with your office and things that could be improved. As a result, they are the perfect resource to let you know how your practice is really going. While it’s easy to get defensive when told that things aren’t going exactly right, shutting down open communication will ultimately hurt staff morale and thwart your practice’s growth.
In contrast, setting aside time each week to allow for an open discussion will keep the ideas flowing and help staff feel like their contribution truly matters. In addition, having these open conversations will identify the pain points that are holding your practice — and great customer service — back.
Identify Pain Points…And Do Something About It
There is nothing more demotivating then when the mundane tasks start piling up, impacting your ability to interact with patients and effectively do your job. Yet all too often, the first symptoms of pain points in your office management appear when something goes wrong and staff performance takes a negative turn.
This can often come out unintentionally in stressed-out staff as less than stellar customer service to patients and referrers.
Yet while it may be easier to chalk it up to just a staffer’s bad mood or an unusually hard day, in reality, who can blame them when they occasionally are a little short given the juggling act that each front office staffer is tasked with each day.
The front office serves as the nerve center of an entire endodontic practice. At one moment, the front office could be on the phone dealing with an upset patient, making certain all the pre-appointment paperwork is done for another, all while another phone line rings and a general dentist is calling about a referral or needs information right now.
Now, add in a trying patient standing at their desk wondering why it is taking so long to be seen and a subpar appointment software that requires one too many user clicks on their desktop computer to get anything done and you have a virtual recipe for a daily disaster and frayed nerves.
While making sure that your front office staff has good customer service training to help better deal with these tense moments when they occur is no doubt also key, by identifying your practice’s pain points — the things that are not working in your office and creating repeated staff stress — you can create a work environment that allows front office staff to put your patients first.
Taming the Mundane
First of all, it is important to recognize that no matter what, there are times when the front office will remain hectic.
As long as you have patients in your lobby, some are bound to get impatient when waiting for care. As long as you have an office phone, there is bound to be times when everyone seems intent on calling at once.
Yet, by taming the mundane tasks of the front office by putting more efficient, endodontic-specific management systems in place, front office workers will have more time to deal with these moments of stress and focus on handling patients’ needs.
The key is finding a front office management system that minimizes mundane work and ultimately works for them.
Improving Patient Intake and Referral Flow
There are a number of ways an integrated office management system will ultimately improve your office’s workflow and free up staff’s time.
To reduce patient stress on appointment day, consider implementing a system that allows new and existing patients to access forms electronically before they arrive for their appointment instead of handing them a bunch of paper forms when they arrive.
Dental EMR, a cloud-based dental endodontic practice management software, for example, makes this pre-appointment exchange of information easy and easy to be completed before appointment day. Giving patients simple — and secure — access to forms and information before they arrive means one less thing for them to worry about on appointment day and keeps nerves and stress at bay.
For busy front office staff, it also means one less thing to juggle when a new patient arrives and less time the patient has to wait before their appointment begins, saving both time and ultimately money. Also since electronic new patient paperwork is submitted online and fully integrated within Dental EMR, office staff are not required to manually enter information, reducing transcription error and liability.
Likewise, implementing a system that allows referring dentists to have all they need to provide referrals directly from a secure portal on the web, like Dental EMR’s, reduces the pre-appointment back-and-forth between referrer and your office, saving time for all involved. You see, by granting you the ability to provide your referring dentists with richer information related to the care you provided via the Dental EMR referrals portal, multiple reports, secure bi-directional images and files, Dental EMR enables you to stand out and gives your referring dentist more reasons to refer to you than others.
Easier Scheduling and Reminders
An ineffective scheduling system is a common source of stress in endodontic offices. Having a subpar system in place, though, ultimately costs time and money and increases staffer stress and burnout. This is compounded when the system does not easily integrate with an efficient means to provide pre-appointment reminders to patients, a must to keep your daily schedule on track.
Given the fact that missed appointments can easily cost a practice thousands of dollars a year, investing in an up-to-date management system like Dental EMR is an easy and cost-effective means to help your front end staff spend less time behind their computers scheduling and more time interacting with your patients. For instance through Dental EMR’s appointment reminder feature, even if it helps you prevent 3 Root Canal No-Shows per month at an average of $1000.00 per visit, your endodontic office could potentially save $3000/month or $36,000 saved per year.
While identifying pain points and implementing an office management system will no doubt improve the workflow and work lives of your front desk staff, taming the mundane will ultimately free your front desk staffers from administrative staff and allow them to focus on the well-being and care of your patients and referring dentists.
This means a better experience for patients, better feedback from the patient to the referring dentists, more word of mouth referrals and referring dentists that are willing to work with your team again and again.
In other words, taking the time to focus on listening to your front desk staff and finding solutions for the pain points is ultimately an investment not only in your staff but for your entire practice, and one that will ultimately pay dividends with improved customer care, rockstar front staffers and a practice that is not only thriving but growing.
General dentists are looking for endodontic offices to refer to. Patients are looking to see who does endodontic treatments in their area and who is best. It’s not enough to have a good website for your endodontic practice. Your customers also have to be able to find you online, and they find you by online searches.
Are they finding you?
In the past, websites would tell search engines how to be found by providing the search keywords they should be listed under, but those days are long gone. Now search engines regularly ‘read’ the content on each website and decide for themselves, based on each website’s content and other criteria, which websites should be included in search results for each unique user search.
Your website’s search ranking matters
Being included in results for searches by potential customers doesn’t, however, mean they can find you because the order of websites in results strongly affects their ‘visibility’ to searchers. Those at the top of the first page of search results, for example, are seen by the most searchers, whereas those farther down the list, especially on subsequent pages, are seen by far fewer. The order of results, or their ranking, also can affect their perceived credibility. Those ranked near first in order are often perceived as ‘largest’, ‘major’, ‘industry leaders’, and therefore potentially more ‘trusted’. Further, major search engines like Google also group local, similar businesses together then show only the first few business with the highest ranking.
Regular, new content improves ranking
While search engines use a complex set of criteria to determine search result rankings, a major determining factor is how dynamic each website’s content is. Adding fresh, relevant content frequently can improve a website’s search ranking.
How often to add fresh, relevant content to a business website to provide a meaningful boost in its ranking depends on the number of competitors that also show up in search results.
General dentists have many competitors in each local area. To meaningfully improve their search order ranking, it is not uncommon for them to have to provide fresh, relevant content to their website on at least a weekly basis.
In contrast, there are fewer specialty dental providers like endodontists in these same local areas. In fact, it is not uncommon for an entire mid-sized market to have a number of endodontic practices on the order of tens instead of hundreds. As a result, monthly postings of fresh, relevant content on an endodontic website can provide a meaningful boost to its search rankings, moving it towards being in the top few results.
Climb to the Top and Be Seen
Winning customers requires both having the right message, then getting it to them. Help general dentists and patients looking for endodontists to find you by both being included in their search results and as close to the top of the results as possible. For your endodontic practice, adding new content on a monthly basis is usually sufficient to move you towards the top. After all, if you’re not at the top, someone else will be.
Stay at the forefront of dental technology with cloud-based dental practice management system
Dental technology has been advancing continuously and thus in order to stay ahead, dentists must stay up to date with the latest innovations. We’ve all seen how electric handpieces have taken the place of slow belt-driven handpieces. Impressions are taken with camera and laser has replaced the scalpel.
So now, dentists need to move from archaic server-based systems towards cloud-based systems, as it will provide answers to all their technological problems. So let the technology enhance your dental practice with the following advantages:
Accessibility of information
As the cloud is all internet browser based, it means that it will provide you the information you are looking for regardless or the device you are using. As such, you can retrieve all the information you need for your dental practice from any corner of the world.
It will also allow you to share the information between different locations on demand. Thus, it will provide flexibility to the employees in the workplace and the capability to work when required on multiple devices or locations.
The cloud service enhances your production and efficiency as well many cost benefits like:
- It has a low upfront cost, as you will only pay the monthly subscription fee that will provide you with features like automatic backups, data storage, technical support and software updates.
- No extra installation or installation fee is required if you want to use it on several platforms
- It is desktop and mobile-friendly so you will not have to invest in a special device
- The maintenance, upgrading process and backup are automatic and there are no hidden charges.
- You will not have to spend any labor on the backups or wait for any downtime. As all this work is taken care of when you are off the system.
- No need to hire IT specialists to fix computer issues that traditionally happen with server-based software. With Dental EMR, you do not have to worry about this.
- Dental EMR provides the online training services to its users thus; it will save the face-to-face training cost and the downtime of employees.
Peace of mind
When you implement the cloud-based system like “Dental EMR” in your endodontic dental practice, it will provide you with peace of mind. The best advantage is that it will provide you a far better security than your own office. It complies with HIPPA guidelines, audits, security monitoring and data encryption.
In order to run a successful endodontic practice, you must provide your patients with leading-edge treatments and procedures. If you want to stay at the top in the dental world, you have to make sure that all the system you are using to keep track of all your records is of the latest technology as well.
Dental EMR cloud technology is the answer to all your problems. With the smart cloud technology, it will provide you with a sophisticated way to take care of your dental practice. So implement the cloud-based Dental EMR today in your dental practice at https://dentalemr.com