Client vs. patient: Who's more important? (Part 2: Technology)

March 11, 2015

In part two of this "client vs. patient" series, we explore the importance of catering to both patients and clients when it comes to technology.

In part two of this "client vs. patient" series, we explore the importance of catering to both patients and clients when it comes to technology.

You want new patients. You take courses, workshops, read forum threads and even hire “experts” on how to market to patients, get them in the door, connect with them, get them to say “yes” and have them return, time and time again. There’s a falsely held truth in dentistry that success relies solely on new patients and how much treatment dentists can diagnose. This is far from the whole story.

There is another target market that plays a critical part in the success, diversity and longevity of a practice. These are the clients. Clients are the decision makers. They decide if a patient moves forward with treatment, which level of service a patient will tolerate, if the cost to value ratio is acceptable and often drives the patient’s emotional response throughout the process. Often these important individuals are called guardians, parents or spouses. Don’t be fooled by those titles. These people are clients and must be catered to in marketing, technology, practice management, team development and office environment with equal amounts of thought and energy as a patient.

Related reading: Client vs. patient: Who's more important? (Part 1: Marketing)

Technology

More and more people are looking at the level of technology a practice offers when making their decision to accept treatment. They equate modern technology with advanced training of the provider, as well as ease of treatment, convenience of service and skills of team members. This is both true for patients and clients as each group wants technology available at their fingertips and on their timeline.

Patients

Free Wifi: The worst word in any office is “wait,” and yet it is one of the words a patient can hear the most in a single visit. Research shows that when a person is told to wait, they have an immediate biological reaction that increases blood pressure, triggers the fight or flight response, raises the heart rate and shallows breathing. Not a reaction you want from a patient about to receive treatment of any kind. First, change the word “wait” to “relax;” yes, it’s interchangeable in almost all situations. Then distract a patient from their wait time by offering free wifi throughout the office.

Social media links:  Patients want to connect with others going through their experience. They want to know which of their friends, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors and churchgoers are having similar struggles, feelings, frustrations and successes. An office doesn’t have to be on every social media site, but your patients will want you to be on the most common and accessible. Give them a community of people to chat with and permission to chat. It’s free marketing, too.

Video content: Today is a video world. Not only is it easy to create and share with groups, it’s a powerful way to educate and deliver a message. Offering videos to patients in ways of educating them on how-tos, FAQs, virtual office tours, current patient transformations and team connection is a surefire way to provide multiple solutions for patients.

Sticky situation: Managing social media for the dental practice

Clients

 

Stay tuned for part three of this five-part series, coming soon! Next up: your reception area.

Reminder system: Clients are concerned about daily life management. How are they going to fit more responsibilities, more appointments and more time commitments into an already stretched schedule?  Filling in the gaps for them by having an auto-responsive system to remind them about upcoming appointments takes the burden off the client and makes any practice look like the hero.

Robust website: Empowering clients to take an interactive role in the patient experience starts with a robust website. Allow clients to complete forms, schedule, confirm and reschedule appointments, submit questions and email the doctor all from the website. The more in control of the process a client feels the more willing they are to say yes.

Comprehensive payment system:  Clients worry more often around cost than any other aspect of dentistry. Having a financial system that allows clients to track previous payments, anticipate upcoming payments, and automatically post payments to avoid late fees is a technology must.