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Products in Practice: Sesame Communications in my practice

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2012-02-01
Issue 2

Dr. Steve Carstensen owns and leads a successful practice in Bellevue, Wash. He has been a Sesame Member since 2010 and currently uses Sesame 24-7™, an integrated suite of services developed exclusively for dental practices, which include his website, mobile site, appointment reminders, online patient portal and search marketing strategies.

Dr. Steve Carstensen owns and leads a successful practice in Bellevue, Wash. He has been a Sesame Member since 2010 and currently uses Sesame 24-7™, an integrated suite of services developed exclusively for dental practices, which include his website, mobile site, appointment reminders, online patient portal and search marketing strategies.

What made you choose Sesame Communications?
I originally heard about Sesame from an orthodontist in the area. He told us about how he was using Sesame tools in his practice, and how happy he was with the results. When it came time to look at getting a new website, my relationship with the Pride Institute helped solidify my choice in Sesame. We had previously been working with another online marketing provider and we were not getting the results we needed. The Pride Institute recommended that we transition to a new technology provider for our online marketing efforts, and that provider turned out to be Sesame.

We were immediately happy with our decision. Working with Sesame is a resoundingly positive experience. Their staff is most interested in what we need as a practice, rather than what they can sell us. Most importantly, once they identified what we needed, Sesame delivered.

How does Sesame 24-7 helps you better connect with your patients?
First, I’d say we have an excellent website thanks to Sesame. Patients often mention to my team and I how helpful the site is to them. It’s a pretty big deal that patients find it helpful enough to comment about it in the office. We’re really proud of that.

The patient portal and automated e-mail and text reminders also have been extremely impactful for our practice. They help us stay on the cutting edge. My staff and I constantly hear from patients about how much they appreciate that we are up on the latest technology, and how convenient these technology tools are for them.

The e-mail surveys we send after appointments also are great. We love the feedback we get from patients, both the positive comments and those we learn from. It helps us get a line of vision on what we’re doing well, and what we can still improve upon. I think it shows a degree of openness our practice has with patients.

What about team and practice efficiency?
The reminders mean there is no longer a need to spend time on the phone leaving messages. That is a monster weight off the administrative team, because calling and leaving messages all day isn’t a positive or productive experience for the patients or the team, and it’s certainly not efficient. The automated reminders allow us to make that message much more positive. In general these tools help make our office a positive work environment, and help our team feel great about coming into work each day.

Sesame research indicates that automated reminders help reduce no shows. Have you seen an improvement in this area?
These days, the only people who don’t show up for appointments at our office are the few patients who aren’t signed up for reminders. For the vast majority of our patients, the reminders are working 100%. No shows really aren’t an issue for us anymore.

A recent Sesame study found that practices using past due financial reminders secured patient payments faster than those using mailed invoices. The study revealed 50% of patients paid within the first 48 hours of receiving a reminder! Does this ring true for your practice?

The ability to offer online payment options for patients has been great. Clearly patients are taking advantage of this tool. I see a lot of patients paying after hours, or even on weekends. By offering online payment options, we remove barriers for patients, letting them take care of their billing in a way that fits their lifestyle, rather than limiting them to our rules.

We know mobile is one of the fastest growing trends in online marketing. One of the newest additions to your Sesame services has been your mobile website. What prompted you to leverage this new technology?

My wife and I both have smartphones, and I see patients using theirs all the time, too. I just couldn’t envision our practice managing to stay up on technology without a mobile site, especially here in the northwest, where so many of our patients are tech savvy. The fact that they can visit our website and request an appointment from their smartphone in a way that is user friendly is a big deal. Once I heard Sesame offered a mobile site solution, I signed up immediately.

In the past 6 months you’ve received more than 92 new patient calls from the SEO and social media campaigns you’re working on with Sesame. How would you say these new strategies have affected the new patient growth at your practice?

Our social networking and search marketing strategy would never have happened without Sesaame’s help. I talk to a lot of older dentists who say they should start getting involved with things like Facebook and SEO, but this new territory can be intimidating. Working with a provider like Sesame has made it easy for us to really take advantage of these new tools, and make it all that more beneficial for our practice.

One of the cool things about Social Marketing and SEO is they have even had a positive effect on the traditional referrals we’ve relied on for years. Prospective patients now visit our website and social networks to get to know our practice before even calling. These tools help reduce barriers for new patients to find us, and moves them to make that phone call.

What would you say to colleagues who are thinking about expanding their online strategy?

Sit with your team. Talk about what kind of experiences you want to offer your patients and the type of environment your team wants to work in. Ask yourself questions like “What would it be like if we didn’t have to make appointment reminder phone calls?” “How would life be if we had a great website?” “How will this support our practice values and help our patient experience?” Once you identify the needs of your practice, it’s time to talk to a professional on how best to address those needs. For us, that professional turned out to be Sesame, who helped us effectively fulfill the needs of our practice. As involved as I am with many dental organizations around the country, I have a chance to talk with dentists from all over. Whenever I bring up Sesame, I hear positive comments. It’s great to be associated with a winner and that makes me feel good about return on my investment.

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