The Tech Effect Using ?High Touch? Technology to Grow Your Patient Relationships

Author : Dental Product Shopper
Published Date 04/27/2012
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The Tech Effect Using ?High Touch? Technology to Grow Your Patient Relationships

Two major areas within dentistry need constant attention: clinical skills and patient relationships. On the clinical side, this is often accomplished by investing in advanced equipment that can help dentists work with more precision, such as CAD/CAM or digital radiography. But surprisingly, when it comes to patient relationships, many dentists hesitate to turn to technological solutions. By embracing modern tools, dentists can become more efficient and effective in the ways they communicate with and engage their patients.

Build a Website and They Will Come

Patients are more likely to search online for a dentist than ever before. A survey conducted by Insider Pages and Harris Interactive found that 2/3 of adults wished they could find more comprehensive information about doctors and dentists online.

The most basic tool in the dental practice marketing arsenal is a well-designed website. A content-rich, search engine optimized website helps ensure that a practice?s website appears on the first page of web searches. In other words, when a patient Googles ?Dentist? plus the practice?s ZIP code, the practice name appears high in the results.

Prospective patients want their dentist?s website to be pleasing to the eye and provide a wealth of information at a glance. They want the ability to browse through testimonials, view before and after photos, find contact information, and review treatment options?all before even deciding to become a patient. The most robust websites have advanced features such as online appointment requests, embedded videos, and mobile-friendly versions designed for smartphones and tablets. The addition of these features helps convert casual web surfers into appointments?and ultimately patients of record.

Work with the Professionals

An important note about dental practice websites: this is not the time for a ?Do It Yourself? project or to go for the least expensive option. For example, many website templates are dated and are not search engine optimized, communicating a lowtech message. Building an engaging and functional website for is a skill best left to companies that focus on website design. There are a host of highly reputable companies that specialize in creating custom dental and healthcare websites and also provide the requisite search engine optimization to ensure the website can be searched easily.

Forget Me Not?Patient Communication Technology

Another great technology is an automated patient reminder service, or better yet, a comprehensive electronic patient communication solution. These programs can save practices time and energy by synching with practice management software to automatically confirm appointments via email or text message, allowing staff to focus on other tasks.

Many patient reminder services can also help with other internal marketing tasks, such as sending birthday cards, creating newsletters, promoting special offers, reaching out to dormant patients, or soliciting patient feedback and reviews. The most comprehensive services include options for other 1-to-1 and 1-to-many communications that can be sent automatically or manually based on the needs of the practice and the individual patient. Using a service like this can help reduce no-shows, shorten average recall time, improve patient loyalty, and even help boost case acceptance?and production.

While dental practice management software packages may offer either built-in or optional capabilities for template electronic patient reminders, there are also a variety of reputable companies that offer highly customizable, feature-rich communications solutions that can help build your online. This resource is a cost-effective and relatively turnkey solution that takes the burden off the front desk without relinquishing control of patient relationships.

Grow Socially?Talk to Your Patients Where They Are

Many dentists are hesitant to interact with current and prospective patients via Facebook and Twitter, but these websites can do a lot for the practice in terms of patient loyalty and growth. Having a Facebook business page gives the practice a presence in the virtual world that patients explore every day. The average Facebook user has 130 online friends, and they can share information and refer a great dentist all with the click of mouse.

These interactive websites also allow practices to open a 2-way dialogue with existing patients. Practices can share articles, polls, contests, and photos, which helps keep the practice (and dental care) top of mind. Since patients request to interact with you on social media (such as choosing to ?Like? a dentist?s page on Facebook), they are therefore more likely to read, respond, share? and refer your practice.

Several types of services are available to build and maintain a practice?s social media profiles, providing regular updates to the practice?s blog, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube feeds. These services also can help you create unique content to engage patients with the practice online.

While an outside company can provide your practice with a baseline level of social media activity, it is important to supplement this information with current and personalized posts, such as patient testimonials or a bio of a new team member. This can be easily handled by a staff member who is familiar with social media.

Make a Commitment to Patient Communication

Patients not only want their dentist to be a ?good dentist,? but also someone who truly cares. With the combination of a customized website, online marketing, electronic patient communication, and social media, the dental practice can gain an advantage by consistently communicating with patients, showing the dentist?s commitment not only to being an excellent clinician, but also to being their patients? personal resource when it comes to oral health.

Naomi Cooper is Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute and President of Minoa Marketing. A respected industry opinion leader who co-teaches Pride Institute?s marketing course, The Complete Dental Marketing Plan, Naomi also works one-on-one with dentists who are looking to develop a cohesive marketing approach. For information about Pride Institute?s seminars and marketing consulting services, call 800.925.2600 or visit www.prideinstitute.com. Naomi can be reached at naomic@prideinstitute.com.

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