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Reducing friction points in your dental practice

June 1, 2021
More than ever before, patient communication technology is both a convenience and necessity for providers. Why? Because when it comes to their dental needs, patients’ points of consideration have evolved.

More than ever before, patient communication technology is both a convenience and necessity for providers. Why? Because when it comes to their dental needs, patients’ points of consideration have evolved.

More and more patients are researching their provider online prior to scheduling an appointment. For instance, the phrase “dentist near me” was searched on Google an average of 1.6 million times per month over the past 12 months. Searches for “clear aligners/braces” topped 110,000 per month, and “cost of clear aligners/braces” was searched more than 190,000 times per month.1

Patient conversations no longer happen only at the appointment while the patient is in the chair or at the front desk. Instead, there’s a longer dialogue that is orchestrated over time, both digitally and in-person. Thus, practices need to have a cohesive communication strategy for both that makes interaction frictionless, continuous, and valuable, resulting in happier, healthier, more loyal patients who refer friends and family.

The new new-patient experience

Technology has changed how patients find a new dental home and how they learn about different dental procedures, costs, and payment options (CareCredit is searched 665,000 times on average per month1). Patients have so much information at their fingertips, and they can virtually explore different practices and procedures within seconds, resulting in more informed decisions. So, at this first point of consideration—your digital practice—it’s important to talk about delivering great dentistry, but also to set your practice apart by setting expectations of the experience and value patients can expect to enjoy. And remember, digital communication isn’t just your website. Patients of all ages are looking beyond the practice website to social media sites and patient communications such as email, texts, and even video messaging. Through all of these, you want to communicate what the patient will experience before they even enter your door—from safety protocols to financial solutions—and remove any “friction points” that can interrupt or disrupt your digital and in-person conversation.

Reducing friction

Practice management software is used as a practice hub to manage events such as scheduling, treatment planning, billing, and payments. Now, with the evolution of practice management software functionality and the advent of third-party software platforms to work with the practice management software, its functionality is being extended from sitting in the practice to being in patients’ hands.

One of the biggest friction points that this technology can alleviate is inconvenience, especially when the tech saves both patients and dental teams time. You’re able to meet patients where they are—communicating how and when they want. Patients no longer need to wait until the office is open to find answers to questions or schedule appointments. Immediate, digital, direct access is not only more convenient, but also increases patient call to appointment conversion.

Another critical friction point is cost. Although every patient’s dental case is different, providing general cost ranges for common procedures can be helpful so patients aren’t surprised by fees at the point of decision. For example, CareCredit’s Custom Link enables patients to learn about and apply for the CareCredit credit card anytime, anywhere, using their computer or smart device. You can include your Custom Link on your website and social media posts and in digital communications. To learn more, visit this link.

These are just a few examples of friction points you and your team can identify and then leverage existing technology to address and minimize or eliminate. The less friction a patient has when interacting with you, the more likely you are to start the experience off on the right foot.

REFERENCE

1. Wordtracker free keyword research tool. https://www.wordtracker.com/search

KIRK SWEIGARD, the vice president of strategic partners for CareCredit, has more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience. Collaborating with dental professionals, including consultants, associations, and suppliers, Sweigard provides the opportunity to develop and enhance relationships that support association members and dental practices.SHIRLEY MISIAK, the vice president of dental strategic
partners for CareCredit, has spent the past 12 years working with hundreds of dental practices to increase case acceptance and enhance patient experience by leveraging technology, creating systems, and maximizing third-party financing. Today, Misiak collaborates with leading organizations to create the ultimate experience for dental teams and their patients.

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