Get Fast, Relevant Content for Your Website Right Now
Online marketing and your practice website are the fastest, easiest, and most effective means of communicating with your patients. You can reach them day or night, holiday, workday, or weekend. And in the world of dental practice marketing there is nothing more effective than ongoing communication and education with both current and prospective patients.
Certainly, in the last five years more and more practices have developed something of a website. They have the home page, maybe a few staff bios… but many practice websites are static. They get the www-dot-address, post a few things, and then seem to forget the site even exists. Consequently, current or prospective patients don’t have the opportunity to learn much about dental procedures that they are interested in, because beyond the very basics there is very little relevant content on the website. There’s virtually no contact between the patients and their dentists in between visits because the offices don’t maximize their websites to encourage ongoing communication. As a result, these offices are missing countless opportunities to build strong and productive relationships with current and future patients.
But let’s be real, who has time in a busy dental practice to write the material that would be important to patients? And even if someone has time, it takes a different type of skill to write web content that is both friendly and informative, isn’t too technical or graphic, is truly of interest to the patient, and will encourage them to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment.
This is where McKenzie Management comes in. I am very excited about a new product that is available to dental offices - patient relevant web content that you can post on your website or email directly to your patients. The best part, you can download and make the information available right now. We have developed 10 “What You Need to Know” articles on several different topics. These are geared specifically for patients and are designed to educate them on several important dental topics, including: Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, What You Need to Know; Do Your Teeth Bleed When You Brush, What You Need to Know; Professional Dental Cleaning, What You Need to Know; and many more.
You can purchase and immediately download the entire set of 10 and save money on the complete package, or peruse the topics and purchase only those that are of interest to you. But don’t stop there. Put this valuable information to work for your practice. Each article is in Microsoft Word format, so it can be tailored specifically for your office to include contact information, specific details about your care, and even a patient testimonial if you would like. Or each individual article can be run exactly as is and you don’t need to do a thing except email it to your patients and/or post to your website. I would even encourage you to take it one step further, print some copies on your letterhead and make a few articles available in your patient reception area. I guarantee that your patients will appreciate learning more about the importance of dental care and specific procedures available to them.
With 10 articles instantly available, you can create a library on your website, and once every four-to-six weeks email your patients an electronic newsletter from your practice featuring a different dental topic. Perhaps in January you send patients the article on Dental Insurance, What You Need to Know. In February, Chronic Illness is Related to Mouth and Germs, What You Need to Know. In March, Crowns and Onlays, What You Need to Know.
Each article will enlighten your patients. At about 650 words per topic, the pieces are designed to give patients enough information without having to read several text-heavy paragraphs. What’s more, there’s no dental jargon, just clear information that is easy to read and understand.
As you know, the website is the front door to your practice. It is a means of making yourself accessible to thousands of prospective patients who otherwise won’t even know you exist. But perhaps more importantly, with appropriate information and content, your website and online marketing are the easiest and most cost effective means of making you, your practice, and your dentistry relevant in the day-to-day lives of your current patients.
Is Your Hygienist's Time Being Utilized Properly?
Are you one of the many practices that are over-loading the hygienist’s precious time with other non-clinical duties? This is starting to become more and more prevalent as offices begin going chartless. There are also many practices out there that are hiring a hygienist for the first time, and are not really sure of what the hygienist’s job description should be.
One thing offices need to be careful of is adding too many non-clinical duties to the hygienist job description. These are duties that will take time away from building patient rapport and may change the attitude patients have towards the clinician they are establishing a trusting relationship with. Some of the duties that are being added include making the next hygiene appointment for the patient, and going over treatment plans that come out of the hygiene department.
It is recommended that the time it takes the hygienist to make the next appointment for the patient would be better spent providing any of the following that may not have been done already:
This time would even be better spent reiterating the recall system to the patient and how you would like to have a 24-hour or more notice if the appointment needs to be changed or rescheduled. Talk to the patient about the importance of their recall and what will be done at the next hygiene appointment, so it is not “just a cleaning.”
It is recommended that practices have a business staff member that is responsible and accountable for scheduling and keeping the schedule full. However, the hygienist should know how to schedule an appointment if the team is working short-handed. Once the hygienist is done with all of the clinical procedures, the last question being asked should be “What questions do you have for me?” or “Do you have any more questions?” This is one time where closed ended questions are all right.
If the patient starts asking questions about money or insurance, the hygienist can inform the patient: “That is a great question and one that is best left for our financial coordinator to answer. She is the expert in our practice when it comes to insurance and payment options. I want to make sure I have answered all of your questions when it comes to what you need to have done. Do you have any more questions for me? If not, we will go talk to Jane, our financial coordinator.”
When it comes to going over financials with patients, this is best left to the business staff that has been hired. They are the experts when it comes to insurance, maximums, and what the patient’s record is when it comes to collecting money. The business or financial coordinator is the person that the patient wants to talk money with also. Patients like to have the money end separated from the clinical portion of their appointment.
Patient rapport with the hygienist and doctor is extremely important as you are building your practice. You do not want more people walking out the back door than you have walking in the front door of your practice. It is important to spend only the time needed at the computer that is necessary in order to input clinical notes, and not on administrative duties. The consumer is very aware of the changes in health care these days and is watching the time spent at the computer by their healthcare providers. You don’t want to lose patients because they feel there is more time spent at the computer by their hygienist than there was actually working on them. The patient needs to perceive that there was plenty of time for their clinicians to be able to provide quality of care, and answer all of their questions and not appear to be rushed.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program.
To Coach or Not to Coach
A letter exchange about a Front Office employee…
We have a Front Desk person who may need coaching and we were wondering if that would be something you could assist us with. Mary has been with us for two years and is wonderful at scheduling, collecting, insurance and running the office systems. Unfortunately, she is sometimes rude to our patients and referral practices, especially if she is "hurried" or under stress at the front. We received a few negative phone calls about her a year ago and addressed the issue with her at that time. We also had her take a class on Customer Service. When she came back, she informed us that she did not learn anything new, but Dr. Jones thought she had improved.
We have again received a phone call from one of our referral dentists who said that he has sent at least $20,000 worth of work this year to another periodontist as his patients will not deal with Mary. Our best referral dentist informed us that he had three of his patients complain about her in one week!
I spoke with Mary about this matter again. She said she is just doing her job and people are too sensitive. Will you be able to assist us in getting her to change this behavior/personality trait? We really would like to keep her, but obviously we cannot lose our business because of her.
Hello Judy ~
The best approach is to be “above board” with Mary. Identify the specific behaviors that you want her to demonstrate with patients and referring sources. With her input, develop a plan for how she will learn and use those behaviors. Schedule routine meetings with her to follow up on this action plan and to note her progress. My role will be to talk with Mary individually, then separately with you and Dr. Jones. After those conversations, I will facilitate a dialogue between all of you. In addition to coaching with me, Mary may benefit from McKenzie’s Front Office Training.
I spoke with Dr. Jones about helping Mary with her rude behavior to our patients. He is wondering if you can alter Mary’s behavior in speaking with her (and us), or if it is her personality which may not be able to be changed.
I should tell you that I had trained Mary for eight months, and then left the office a year and a half ago on a maternity leave of absence. I still do the payroll and keep the books, but basically try to stay out of the office due to Mary’s attitude toward me. We did get along well while I was training her but soon after I left the office her attitude changed radically. Dr. Jones and I had a meeting with Mary about this and her behavior did improve.
Hello Judy ~
Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Therein lies the issue – how much of Mary’s behavior is she willing to change? As with most people, the question is what’s in it for her to want to modify the way she acts? The answer is connected to her values and what’s important to her.
You have given Mary feedback, training and then more feedback. Each time there were positive results, but only for a short time before backsliding into old behavior. This is less of a training or coaching issue and more of a discipline problem. Some people are unwilling to look at themselves. They fear change and/or they are so well-defended they don’t see how they impact others. For that reason, I think it’s time to consider termination more than coaching.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at email@example.com
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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