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01 Eleven years ago, Smile Reminder was the first company to introduce patient messaging. Where did the idea come from? Jim Higgins, our company founder, was working on a mobile messaging platform for the banking industry when he was approached by a dentist who wanted some help with last minute appointment reminders in the hopes of reducing his no-show rate. After some initial testing and success, Smile Reminder was born.
01 Eleven years ago, Smile Reminder was the first company to introduce patient messaging. Where did the idea come from?
Jim Higgins, our company founder, was working on a mobile messaging platform for the banking industry when he was approached by a dentist who wanted some help with last minute appointment reminders in the hopes of reducing his no-show rate. After some initial testing and success, Smile Reminder was born.
02 You’ve been doing this now for more than 10 years and you have several competitors. How do you react to competition?
Competition is both flattering and validating. We created a communications market that didn’t exist and now others see the opportunity in what we are doing. Competition not only provides motivation to continue to be the market leader but also brings more education to the marketplace we are developing.
03 What is one of the biggest misconceptions doctors have about patient messaging?
Some doctors look at electronic communication based on their own preferences and not the preferences of their patients. If a doctor doesn’t text or communicate within a social network that doesn’t mean that it’s not a viable or valuable tool to reach out to his patients and perspective patients.
04 How has the market changed since Smile Reminder introduced patient messaging?
Ten years ago this type of communication was a great thing to have in a practice. Now it’s a necessary thing to have in a practice. Patients are insisting on being reached on their mobile devices.
05 Some doctors view this type of service as “just another monthly office expense.” Is there really a tangible return on this type of investment?
Yes. We have examined both cost reduction and revenue increase in practices and found that, on average, the effective return on our service is around 20 to 1. Who wouldn’t trade a $1 bill for a $20 bill?
06 How do you respond to doctors who say they don’t have time to manage another system in their office?
One of the things we learned early on is that our service needed to decrease the amount of work in a practice. Most of our features are automated in such a way that we are making the staff more efficient. Also, with a customer service person assigned to each practice, we are available to help the practice with any additional needs such as creating educational or marketing campaigns.
07 How do patients respond to getting e-mail and text messages from their dentist?
The overwhelming majority love it! They appreciate that the doctor is willing to communicate with them on their terms and their preferred devices.
08 There are so many practice management systems out there. Can you interface with all of them and how easy is it to implement?
We have more than 300 different integrations with practice management software programs that in most cases can be installed and running in less than an hour.
09 Do you still see Smile Reminder as a messaging company?
When Smile Reminder created this market it was purely about communicating directly with existing patients. As the Internet has developed, our solution has become more about engaging patients via the tools and in the places they are most available-video, social networks, reputation and review sites, etc.
10 Where is the patient engagement industry headed?
We just launched our Active Presence platform that helps doctors manage their online reputation. Patients are doing more homework before choosing a dentist. There are a variety of online review sites giving first-hand experience and opinions about health care providers. It’s important for dentists to be aware of what is being said about them and where possible, make sure they have proper representation.