More and more, Americans are managing their lives from their mobile devices. In fact, according to eMarketer research, 88% of mobile time is spent on apps,1 creating an opportunity for dental health-care organizations to use app technology to build a more efficient and on-demand experience for patients and providers.
As the patient experience becomes the key driver of business performance, health-care organizations are investing in mobile apps to improve patient and member engagement. App technology helps improve member experiences by providing plan information, benefit eligibility, and member education materials all in a single, portable place. Here are five mobile app tools that are enhancing the patient experience.
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Find a provider
Members can find providers through a mapping tool using their current location or zip code of their choosing. They can easily communicate with their provider, schedule appointments, and obtain pretreatment estimates. Providers likewise have a direct line of communication to their patients to share appointment reminders and preventive oral care messaging and education.
Today’s paper insurance ID card does not guarantee eligibility for services, but such information can be obtained instantly on a mobile app. An app reduces call center and administrative costs by providing members with plan design and health education information. In an emergency care situation, a mobile ID card with information on eligibility verification allows for swift and seamless dental care.
Get a pretreatment estimate
Patients often reject or postpone dental care due to uncertainty about their out-of-pocket costs. When providers submit treatment plans to insurance companies, they can quickly relay benefit information to patients via a mobile app, aiding patients in making informed decisions about their care.
Get the bill
Dental providers spend inordinate amounts of time collecting relatively small amounts of money from patients who have not paid their bills in full. Mobile apps give members the ability to easily login, manage benefits, and pay their dental bills right from their phones. Health-care organizations can collect payment and disperse to providers, which improves efficiency and profitability for dental practices.
Get an additional treatment opinion
Sometimes patients have questions about their provider’s recommended treatment plan. Very soon, patients will be able to share a treatment plan and associated documentation with another provider through a mobile app. This will save patients the inconvenience of having to make an appointment with another dentist to receive a treatment plan. It will also save dental providers time in preparing treatment plans for those simply seeking another opinion. Today, dental office treatment plans and documentation are stored on the provider’s server and cannot be readily shared with other dental offices.
Mobile apps represent an innovative strategy for digitally reaching members because they are personal, portable, convenient, and direct. Mobile app features that exist now and those on the horizon are just the beginning of the transformation that is occurring within the dental health-care industry.
The dental plan of the future will be completely virtual, supported by technology that is maintainable 24/7 from anywhere in the world. The mobile app will become part and parcel of the dental benefits themselves, improving patient experiences as well as the efficiency with which dental practices operate.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the September 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
- Wurmser Y. The majority of Americans’ mobile time spent takes place in apps. Insider Intelligence eMarketer. July 9, 2020. https://www.insiderintelligence.com/content/the-majority-of-americans-mobile-time-spent-takes-place-in-apps