How to improve patient communication in your practice

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2013-05-01
Issue 5

Patient communication is key to any successful practice. Read how Lighthouse 360 helped Dr. Richard Rosenblatt improve patient communication and what that means for his team and his practice.

Patient communication is key to any successful practice. Read how Lighthouse 360 helped Dr. Richard Rosenblatt improve patient communication and what that means for his team and his practice.

Patients are no longer falling through the cracks at Dr. Richard Rosenblatt’s practice.

It’s a common problem at dental practices: a patient misses a recall appointment, and for one reason or another that patient never gets follow up communication reminding him or her that it’s important to reschedule.

Dr. Rosenblatt and the team at his Lake Forest, Ill. practice no longer have to worry about recall patients falling through the cracks, or about sending recall cards and printing out reports to see who is overdue.

The Lighthouse 360 patient communication system does all that for them, making the practice more efficient and increasing the number of hygiene appointments scheduled each day.

“Every morning when I wake up Lighthouse 360 tells me which patients are 6 weeks overdue and gives me a list of patients coming in that we don’t have cell phone numbers and email addresses for,” Dr. Rosenblatt said. “We use this at the morning meeting, so the staff understands the importance of data collection. It allows us to gather the data we need, to get in touch with patients, and it allows patients to confirm through the system so my staff doesn’t have to make recall calls at the end of the day, which is fantastic.”

It saves time

In the two years since Dr. Rosenblatt incorporated Lighthouse 360 into his practice, a system that he said integrates seamlessly with his practice management software, he and his team have saved countless hours that would otherwise be spent reaching out to overdue recall patients.

His staff has an extra half hour to an hour each day to focus on patients and other aspects of the practice, all while the number of recall hygiene appointments continues to grow.

“My hygiene schedule, which had a lot of holes in it two years ago, is booked out 2-3 weeks in advance because of how well it keeps everybody on track,” he said. “That’s huge for me. My office doesn’t have 30 to 40 new patients a month, so we have to rely on recall and new patients.”

It’s easy to incorporate

Not only does this patient communication system help to make dental offices more efficient, Dr. Rosenblatt said it’s also pretty easy to integrate into your practice. It can work with your current practice management system, and only requires about an hour or two of training to get everyone up to speed and to set up the various patient reminders.

After that initial phone call, your system is up and running and is pretty much hands off, Dr. Rosenblatt said, which is something he and his team members love.

Patients love it too

These days, most patients have smart phones or simply prefer to confirm appointments via email or text. They lead busy lives and may not have time to call when they need to confirm an appointment.

You can send patients appointment reminders a few weeks out, as well as day-of, via text or email, and you can reach out to patients to fill last-minute openings in the schedule. Patients can quickly reply to confirm they’ll be there or to let you know that they’re running late. It enables patients to get back to you instantly, saving everyone time and effort.

“People find we try to be ahead of the technology curve whenever possible, and we think this separates us from the typical dental office patients are used to,” Dr. Rosenblatt said. “It’s really made us seem like we’re doing something above and beyond what the norm is and that’s always a great thing for your practice.”

Want to know more about Lighthouse 360? Check out this video:

Beyond recall

While improving his practice’s recall was the main reason Dr. Rosenblatt decided to incorporate Lighthouse 360 into his practice, the patient communication system has plenty of other features designed to make practices more efficient.

They perform a software backup to synchronize appointment data every 10 minutes, so that means if your computers go down (which recently happened at Dr. Rosenblatt’s practice) you can access your schedule and communicate with patients through the Lighthouse 360 site.

You can check metrics through Lighthouse 360 to not only see how many new patients you’ve gotten in the last month, but also those patients’ demographics. You can automatically send patients birthday cards and newsletters.

The service also allows you to perform email campaigns and to get reviews via surveys that you can post on your website and/or Facebook page.

Lighthouse 360 sends surveys to your patients after each appointment, something Dr. Rosenblatt has found invaluable. His team members aim to make every patient who walks into the practice feel like family, and that, along with the quality of care they receive, is something patients noted on the surveys.

But they also noted that the practice feels a bit out of date, something Dr. Rosenblatt didn’t really think about when he bought the practice 6 years ago.

“We updated the look of the practice based on that feedback,” he said. “We would never have known patients were thinking about that until we got the surveys and thought you know, maybe that does make a difference. It helped us as a team know what we’re doing well and what we need to improve on. That’s something that’s really important in every business.”

The importance of patient communication

Effective patient communication is key to a successful practice. From reaching out to recall patients to enabling patients to communicate with your practice the way they want to, finding the right tools will only help your practice grow.

After taking the step to make that a reality in his practice through Lighthouse 360, Dr. Rosenblatt now has a more efficient practice-with more hygiene patients than ever before.

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