Dental Products Report spoke with Henry Schein One Product Manager for Patient Experience Andrea Gallimore to learn about why it's so important to be ready to communicate and interact with your patients when and how they want to connect. [6 minutes]
Noah Levine (NL): We talked a little bit about texting, but patients probably are getting those texts on a smartphone that can also get phone calls. It can also get a mail. We know that snail mail, regular mail through the Postal Service still has its places too. So how does a practice figure out what methods to use to communicate with patients?
Andrea Gallimore (AG): One thing I love and utilizing a service, like we have here at Henry Schein One like Lighthouse 360+, it allows the practice to utilize a most all of these different avenues to contact their patients. And, you know, one way may be good, for example, asking a patient to confirm an appointment, most you're gonna respond pretty much instantly, when they get that text message, they're gonna see it, they're gonna hit that send, and they're gonna respond, you know, or they're gonna say, okay, and they're gonna confirm their appointment. But when you think about it, you really have to start looking at my different ways to communicate, what am I communicating to my patient, because text is one thing, and it's quick and fast. And it's short and simple. But maybe it's about hygiene and getting that patient back into the chair and getting their oral health taken care of. We find emails really respond better with patients in that avenue, because I'm able to educate them a little bit more in that email about why it's important to get back in. And that leads to even allowing them to book directly from an email. You know, snail mail is still important too. You don't want to forget that every once in a while, you might need to get something out to a patient, and really get it in front of their face, and remind them, hey, we're looking forward to seeing you or maybe you're having some kind of special in your practice. But all of those are important. And each one of them really can resonate with your patient in a different ways based off of what you're communicating with them.
NL: You know, in today's world, are patients really expecting to be able to have access to their dental practice pretty much 24/7 whenever they want?
AG: They really are, and just like I was mentioning, you get that email that says I know you're due for hygiene, you need to book your appointment, you're not you haven't scheduled for it, you get that and when maybe you read it in the evening, and we're already closed. In a practice, if you have a book now a button, you're going to book, you're going to click it, you're going to book that appointment, you're going to move right on through and it doesn't require you remembering to call the practice the next morning and asking to schedule that appointment. So think about it, most everything we do nowadays, we are booking online. We expect to be able to do things 24/7. Even when we know the practice isn't open or you know, our business that we are going to isn't open, we want it at our fingertips because we all work or are awake at different times of day.
NL: You talked a little bit about you know, the email with a link and scheduling. But how are some of the ways that Lighthouse 360+ is able to make it so that patients can have access and you know, get in touch with their practice whenever they feel like doing it.
AG: Online Booking is one that is really a key factor. And, you know, allowing those patients to have an opportunity to see the calendar, pick dates and times that the practice has actually said I want to have available for my patients to see and book online. You know, that's important because we're allowing that patient to go out there, see the calendar, pick the date and time and send it back to us and control that in the office to So what's important. Some other technology is just having a great phone system that allows for interactions even when you're not in the practice that can even instigate a message back and text the patient and things like that. It's all about really evolving and how can we keep at their fingertips and remind them to come back and contact us?
NL: Now you mentioned online scheduling. Are there other online services? Are there things that patients really expect now that their practice is going to have available to them whenever they want to visit the website?
AG: Do you know what else they expect? And I know I do. When I call a practice. I expect to go ahead and be able to fill out my patient forms prior to coming in that door. Let me get it all done. Let me do it electronically. Don't ask me to print something, I don't have a printer. But let me do it electronically. Online, get it done, get it sent in. So all of that's done. So on the date of my appointment, I can walk in the door on time and get in the chair and be seen and keep myself on time with the patient and keep the practice on time because we're moving more efficiently through the practice.