Are you trying to attract and keep 21st century patients using 20th century techniques? Sure, you have the computers, the intraoral camera, you’re dabbling in digital radiography, and maybe you’re considering a microscope for the operatory so it’s not that you’re averse to new tools. Once patients are in your office, the technologies that you have available will benefit them considerably. But most dentists give little thought to how they can use technology to bring patients into the practice and keep them returning.
Like you, your patients are running nonstop from dawn past dusk, and like you, they’ve integrated new technologies to better manage the multiple tasks they are juggling day-in and day-out. They have their computers, their cell phones, their text messaging, their personal digital assistants, their email accounts, etc. And they are relying on these communication tools more and more, particularly email. Use of email and the Internet has exploded in the last few years. In fact, 85% of today’s patients prefer communicating via email. They are shopping online, banking online, managing their lives online. They are pointing, clicking, and scrolling through their to-do lists.
But if they want to schedule an appointment with their dentists, most have to pick up the phone, dial the number, wait on hold, barter back and forth with the Scheduling Coordinator for a convenient time, etcetera, etcetera. And if they would like to complete necessary paperwork in advance or if they desire any additional information on whitening, implants, veneers, or anything else they either have to wait until they come in or sit tight until snail mail crawls to their mailbox.
Today’s patients are looking for convenience in every aspect of their lives, including scheduling their dental appointments. When the process is quick and convenient for the patient, it further increases patient satisfaction with the doctor and team, which inherently benefits the practice. One of the best tools on the market to achieve this is electronic scheduling. I’ve found the UAppoint services, which are fully HIPAA-compliant and integrate seamlessly with your existing practice management software, to be among the most patient and practice friendly. The electronic scheduling service enables patients to schedule or reschedule their appointments via email – no phone calls, no waiting on hold, no telephone tag.
Now stop shaking your head and saying to yourself, “There is NO WAY I will ever relinquish control of my schedule.” You are absolutely right. You definitely should not surrender control of your day. But you should be willing to hand off the multiple frustrations that trying to manage the schedule can bring, and electronic scheduling can go along way in helping you do so. For those willing to try this 21st century approach, the results are truly impressive both in terms of the staff time saved and the reduction in no-shows. The UAppoint system uses a “smart appointment request” whereby the practice sends an email notice to patients informing them that it is time to schedule their appointment or the patient indicates that they need to reschedule. The program allows the patient to view three possible appointment options based on the scheduling “rules” established by the practice, so the practice has control. The patient selects one of the available times or requests additional options.
After the patient selects the desired appointment, the front desk confirms the request and enters the patient into the practice software. Shortly thereafter, the patient will receive the electronic appointment card and reminder notices. The staff isn’t sitting on the phone with the patient, paging through the schedule, trying to find the right appointment time and date for the patient. The patient determines what will work best for them in just a few clicks and books it.
Another excellent feature that can be a huge money saver for practices allows you to quickly fill last minute cancellations. Rather than panicking when faced with a two-hour opening in your afternoon and posting all employees on deck desperately calling patients one-by-one to fill the production crater, you can instantaneously contact specific patients on an “As Soon as Possible” list via email or text messaging and alert them to the opportunity to come in for their appointment. The first patient to respond is given the appointment. And just as fast as that unexpected cancellation splinters your ideal day you have another patient meeting the specific appointment criteria coming in.
For more information on e-mail Scheduling go here
Next week, E-Recall “E-fficient” and “E-ffective.”
If you have any question or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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