5 tech tools you should be using to boost patient interaction

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2014-02-01
Issue 2

Technology is not just a trend; it has revolutionized the way we communicate. From smart phones and Skype to texting and Twitter, technology makes communication more effective, efficient and, in some cases, instantaneous.

Technology is not just a trend; it has revolutionized the way we communicate. From smart phones and Skype to texting and Twitter, technology makes communication more effective, efficient and, in some cases, instantaneous.

Incorporating technology into a dental practice’s marketing and patient communication strategy can seem intimidating, but what about the overwhelming benefits of incorporating technology into the practice’s marketing and communication strategy?

As in any area of dental practice management, with the right marketing communications systems, the practice can optimize results. Using the technology available in today’s marketplace can help grow practice revenue, tighten recall intervals and increase both case acceptance and new patient flow.

At the same time, automating office processes streamlines marketing efforts and allows staff to focus on other responsibilities. With these goals in mind, here are five marketing/ communication tools to consider.

Tech Tool No. 1:

E-Communication Systems

E-communication involves sending text messages and emails to existing patients. Using a system for sending automated text message or email appointment reminders is one way of reaching patients that is convenient for them and efficient for the practice.

This type of tool generally includes other types of communications, including e-newsletters and practice promotions that can be sent at once to the entire patient base, as well as customized communications. Post-appointment surveys soliciting feedback and reviews are often integrated.

By converting to electronic communications, practices can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars per year on printing and postage for recall cards, newsletters and cards.

The question most dentists have about e-communication is whether patients will find emails or texts intrusive.

In today’s digital culture, these methods are becoming the norm and often the preferred method of contact.

Tech Tool No. 2:

Website metrics/analytics

Most practices have a website, allowing patients to learn about the practice through online research. What many may not realize is the dental practice website can, when executed correctly, be a powerful driver of new patient flow. But to know if the practice website is working at its maximum potential, there must be a tracking mechanism in place.

Google Analytics is a free tool for measuring a website’s traffic and trends. It also can help identify which keywords and marketing tactics are driving traffic to the site. All you need is a free Google account and a tracking code embedded in the practice website.

For more information, visit google.com/analytics.

It’s also important to note that many website design and development companies offer supplemental tools that complement Google Analytics or provide a deeper level of data on an ongoing basis, giving dentists an even more accurate and comprehensive picture of the website’s ROI.

Tech Tool No. 3:

Recording incoming patient calls

Marketing is not only about advertising and promotion-it encompasses the entire patient experience, perhaps most importantly the prospective patient’s initial call to the practice.

These phone calls must be handled purposefully and delicately. Front desk staff must be properly trained in customer service, verbal skills and overcoming objections, otherwise the potential results from practice marketing can be diminished dramatically.

Integrating a system that records these calls allows the dentist or the practice’s consultant to better understand what is happening at the front desk and to identify any areas of improvement. And it doesn’t end with new patient phone calls.

Related: Top 5 signs you need a marketing consultant

Listening to how team members handle issues like scheduling and insurance concerns, hearing when and why patients are put on hold, and experiencing first-hand what people calling the practice encounter can give you a clearer picture of how effective the front desk team is in the marketing process.

Listening to recordings provides an unobtrusive and convenient way to evaluate the staff’s phone skills, and can help indicate where training and operational gaps exist.

A variety of companies offer call recording tools, but the best also integrate tracking phone numbers so you can understand which calls came from yellow pages advertising, search engine marketing or other marketing mediums. MyDentistCalls and Sesame Communications’ First Call are two excellent examples.

Tech Tool No. 4:

Responsive design for practice websites

Patients today conduct their initial research online before calling to make an appointment, and that includes visiting the practice’s website. And with more consumers relying on smart phones and tablets when searching online, a traditional website designed for desktops and laptops alone does not cut it anymore.

In 2012, Pew Internet research found that 31% of Americans used their cell phones to look for health and medical information online. According to the website MarketingLand.com, nearly 40% of all time spent on the Internet is spent on mobile devices.

A traditional website often has limited functionality and visibility when accessed on a smart phone or tablet. And mobile websites, which were the industry standard only a year ago, are no longer recommended. In 2013, Google notified developers that it prefers responsive design over maintaining separate traditional and mobile websites.

A responsive designed website reconfigures itself automatically based on what type of device is being used to access it. Responsive design ensures a website will be accessible to all patients regardless of whether they are using a computer, smart phone, tablet or any handheld device.

Studies show if prospective patients cannot access a dentist’s website online, they will move on to the next website. A select few companies in the dental industry offer responsive design websites, notably PBHS  and Sesame Communications.

Tech Tool No. 5:

The power of video

It’s a fact-website visitors are drawn to visual content.

The popularity of sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest is certainly evidence of this. Posting videos to the practice website and social media profiles is a terrific way to connect with patients. Video also plays into Google’s algorithmic preference for fresh, relevant content, and can help it rank higher in Google searches.

Plus, because Google owns YouTube, the videos posted directly to your practice’s YouTube profile, or “channel,” will improve that profile’s ranking in search engine results as well.

Creating videos does not have to be difficult or expensive.

Today’s smart phones and hand-held cameras are perfect for shooting quick videos and make it easy to upload to the Internet. The videos should be 1 to 2 minutes, and showcase the practice, doctors and team members, as well as popular services, after-care instructions and even patient testimonials.

Videos are an opportunity to show prospective patients what sets a practice apart from the competition, and to give patients a true feel for the practice.

Integrating technology into the practice culture

Marketing technology can be a great asset in growing the practice, improving the trackability of marketing dollars and increasing opportunities to interact with prospective and current patients.

When implementing new systems, outsourcing becomes necessary. The biggest pitfall in implementing new ideas into the practice-especially highly technical ones-is the dentist trying to take it all on him or herself.

The solution is to work with a dental marketing consultant who can provide a comprehensive, customized marketing strategy.

Once the goals have been set and the tactics determined, a consultant also can act as a coach and as a guide through the technology landscape, quarterbacking as necessary to appropriate vendors with proven track records in the dental profession.



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