Is Your Patient Education Relevant in Today?s Digital World?

Author : Dental Product Shopper
Published Date 06/02/2011
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Take a look around your practice. Do you have a flat screen in your reception area with rotating images of actual patients? Is your team using the latest camera to capture quality before and after images and backing them up appropriately? Do patients receive regular educational content that they can obtain in the midst of their busy lifestyles?for example, on those phones in their hands? Do they walk into appointments with questions and ideas based on what they?ve seen or read about your treatment opportunities?

Quality dentistry results when management and clinical systems function together. Each contact a person has with your practice?from a personal referral to media exposure?makes a difference. Your patient education processes and aids must align with your commitment to current, relevant dentistry. A patient?s perception of you, their interactions with each member of your team, and their experience in your practice all must reflect one, seamless message.

Current means that you have entered the digital world and are incorporating digital education. Your patient education must be both technically savvy and timely. With the right tools, you can do this and do it well.

Create a Positive Image

The quality of your photos is as important to the patient as the content pictured. If the picture you?re using is crooked or grainy, that?s sending a message to the patient about your standards and quality (or lack thereof). A patient who is distracted by a poor quality image is not going to hear what you?re saying.

When you?re sharing these high-quality photos with patients, include portraits of smiles. Patients have a negative first impression of retracted mouth images. You?re best bet is to ease them into those photos with care and strong verbal skills so that they can truly concentrate on the issues about which you?re trying to educate them.

Intraoral photography is another great education tool, but find opportunities for positive reinforcement. ?Look at how beautiful your gums are. Do you see this area that we?ve restored and how great it looks?? Using your quality images to follow through on the positive appointments can be as powerful?or sometimes more powerful?than pulling up images only once a problem is identified.

Visualize a Beautiful Smile

There are many cosmetic imaging tools available now from smart phone applications (for example, Dental Demo Suite) to software add-ons. These tools give patients an opportunity to visualize what they could possibly look like. Using presentation tools offered with patient education systems?like Guru (Henry Schein), CAESY Enterprise (a Patterson Technology), Consult- PRO, or Dental SideKick?to package these before and hypothetical after photos is a brilliant way to educate patients. DrQuickLook is an intraoral camera with a handheld monitor that gives patients an up close view of what?s happening in their mouth. It?s all about the patient, so the more personal the educational aid, the better.

These digital case presentations/ educational pieces can be crafted in a way that makes it easy for patients to fully understand the issues and to communicate them with family and friends. Send this kind of presentation home for a patient to share with a spouse instead of a document with ?MOD? and ?CRN? written on it, and they?ll be better equipped to justify the bottom line. It also makes for an easy referral to friends, coworkers, and loved ones.

Revolutionize Your Education

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are revolutionizing educational opportunities. Not only will marketing through social media establish or reinforce you as an expert, but it gives you a chance to educate patients about oral health. We?ve had dentists posting an ADA article link with a note about their opinion. People in their network begin asking questions and turning to them for expertise. Have you seen an ad on television with smokeless tobacco or some other product that?s relevant to oral healthcare? Post the truth about it and watch the internet buzz funnel educational opportunities your way. Interesting facts about dentistry and your team make it fun, inviting, and interesting.

Interact with Your Patients

What is the status of your website? Does it have interactive tools like forms and before and after photo galleries for your patients to explore? Educate your patients with a balance of written content and great images. They will then want to ask about the procedures in person. Many patient education systems allow you to incorporate their presentations with animation and video on your website so they can be viewed at a patient?s convenience.

Make sure your site is easily found, and put thought into the search terms and work to become competitive in those terms. What procedures might a patient be searching? Is your site going to give them an educational gateway to your practice? Your website can be a resource for gathering information about visitors so you can reach out to them with enewsletters.

Welcome Patients with Education

Be sure to bring technology right to your greeting area with educational opportunities. Before and after photos and videos can loop in an educational presentation on a flat screen. Most patient education systems have CDs that you can play on these screens.

Eliminate the magazines that are battling for the same attention and money as your dental diagnoses. People have to hear your message 5 to 7 times before they?re going to take action, so maximize your greeting area. Fill it with educational and motivational messages when patients? minds are on dentistry the most.

Technology = Relevancy

It?s time to get relevant through increased technological patient education plans. A decade or 2 ago, people weren?t talking about their teeth or oral health. Popular television shows and other media turning points have led to a heightened awareness of dental opportunities.

What a fun time to be a dentist. Master this challenge to integrate technology into proactive patient education. Patients are more likely to be receptive to you if you?re staying in front of them and taking advantage of their heightened awareness. Make sure they?re ready to turn to you when the time comes.