Good Reviews are Key to a Successful Practice: Here’s How You Can Get More of Them

Imagine you’ve just moved to a new town: there are many things you will need to take care of in the first few weeks, but finding new service providers like bankers, lawyers, doctors, and dentists who you can trust to take care of your financial and healthcare needs will be one of the most important. So, what do you do? 

For most of us, the answer is simple – go online, and start looking at reviews. Websites like Yelp Google Reviews, Facebook and Ratemds.com (for healthcare providers) are a great way to find out what other peoples’ experiences have been like, and they can save us a lot of time and trouble when it comes to locating the best service providers for our needs.      

As a business owner, I know first hand just how important reviews can be for dental clinics that want to grow their patient base. If potential clients can go online and see that real people have appreciated the service they received, it makes them feel a lot more comfortable about trying it out for themselves. I know I always feel better about checking out a new dental practice if I can see what other people are saying about it first! 

While all service providers should be aware of the importance of good reviews, there are even more reasons why those responsible for dental practice management need to take this kind of customer feedback especially seriously.  

Most dentists and dental hygienists care deeply for their patients and will bend over backward to make their experience more comfortable, but research suggests that large numbers of adults routinely avoid having their teeth checked due to fears of going to the dentist. Having lots of good reviews is one important step toward helping patients feel more comfortable visiting your clinic.

But how can you increase the number of good reviews you get? This week, I’ve provided a few ways you can make the most of online reviews.

Good Service = Good Reviews

When it comes to making your patients feel welcomed, comfortable and cared for, there really are no shortcuts. If your clinic isn’t offering patients a personalized experience that lets them know you take their health and well being seriously, no amount of marketing is going to make up for that.

But improving patient experience isn’t just about treating them as gently and empathetically as possible when they’re in the dentist’s chair. Remember, your patient’s experience begins the moment they pick up the phone or send an email to request an appointment: if you want to make a good impression, you need to make sure that patients feel comfortable and in control from the beginning.

Appointment Scheduling Software Can Help

One easy way to improve your patients’ overall experience is to use practice management software that remembers and easily finds a patient’s preferred appointment time. It’s also helpful to patients if the software can locate patients who want to come in earlier if a preferred time opens up.  

Patient Portals also give patients an easy way to participate in the management of the dental care when it comes to managing appointments, reviewing their personal health information record, and responding to post-visit surveys. And because it includes options that allow patients to refer new patients to the practice, it makes word-of-mouth recommendations that much easier. 

5 Steps Worth Taking To Increase Review Numbers

While good service is essential, it isn’t everything. If you don’t have any reviews, you may need to jump-start the process yourself. Here are a few things you can do to get started:

1. Ask Your Regulars to Submit a Review

If you have patients who have been with you for a long time, ask if they would be willing to contribute a review. This is the best way to build momentum initially.

2. Provide Patients Guidance for Reviewing

Recommend review platforms that don’t require payment from you in order to receive positive reviews since their credibility is naturally suspect. Also, choose sites that allow you to respond to the review if possible, particularly to address negative comments. Recommend sites that have a large user base since more people will see your patients’ reviews and keep track of which sites provide the best results. This way you can narrow down the recommended sites over time and build a significant review base per site.    

3. Use Social Media as an Outreach Tool

Increasingly, social media is becoming a major way that people connect to and discuss their experiences with healthcare services, and there are lots of resources that can help you use social media to spread the word about your dental practice. Or better yet, read our post on Facebook groups to learn how easy it is to get started.

4. Thank Your Reviewers

Gratitude is a powerful motivator, and reaching out to reviewers who comment positively is a great way to ensure they keep spreading the news. For those who leave negative comments, it’s a good way to address concerns and make people feel heard. 

5. Track Patient Satisfaction

Most practice management software (including ABELDent) gives you the ability to use “Flags” that you can designate to define particular patient profiles.  Use one to indicate your estimation of the patient’s level of satisfaction with your services. This makes it easier to target highly satisfied patients that are most likely to give you a positive review. Use another flag to indicate patients that have provided a review to avoid unnecessary solicitation.

Finally, it is important to remember that, as you increase the number of overall reviews, you’ll inevitably increase the chances of getting a bad review. When this happens, don’t sweat it: if people on the whole are positive about your clinic, a couple of negative reviews will only confirm the authenticity of the positive reviews. 

In a media-saturated world, one good word from an existing patient to a potential one is worth dozens of paid advertisements. Make sure your dental clinic is capitalizing on the power of positive reviews!

How A Cloud Server Platform Can Help Your Dental Practice

Every day, dental clinics across Canada handle a lot of sensitive information. Between patient scheduling, clinical records, financial information, payroll, and co-ordination with other healthcare and insurance providers, dentists and dental hygienists need to know where to find the information they’re looking for at a moment’s notice.  

This means how and where to store information can be a major issue. As anyone who works in a dental clinic knows, the days of keeping patient files in manila folders is long gone for most – but just because clinics use computers now doesn’t mean the storage question has gone away.

As a solution, many clinics have started to backup their practice data in the Cloud. But some practices have told me that they have doubts about the Cloud’s safety. In addition, simply backing up data in the Cloud is only part of the solution and thus only mitigates part of the risk. If the data you access every day to run your practice still resides on a local server, you remain highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. To help, I’ve prepared this brief explanation of how the Cloud works and why using a cloud server is the more secure option for accessing and backing up your dental practice data.

What is the Cloud, Anyway?

In a nutshell, it means that rather than storing and accessing your data from an on-site (local) server, it is stored on powerful offsite servers (known as cloud servers) and accessed via the internet. Depending on the application, it may also be stored and accessed from the cloud server. cloud computing has been around since the 1960s but it’s only in recent years that cloud computing and cloud storage have become widely available. This shift happened when companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google started marketing cloud storage services to businesses and the public.

Chances are, you already use cloud services a lot more than you think – your last Netflix bingeing session of Stranger Things wouldn’t be possible without this technology. But some dental practice owners are still reluctant to access their records from the Cloud and store backups there because they worry that the Cloud is less secure than storing information on their own computers. But are these concerns actually warranted?

Is the Cloud Server Platform Safe?

The short answer to this question is yes – not only is the Cloud safe, but it actually offers more security than other data access, backup and storage methods.

When you store all of your live data on-site, there are a number of risks. Because your data is literally being stored on hard drives in your office, all someone needs to do is remove the hard drives and all the information stored on them will be lost. Even if you have kept a backup of your data on a separate storage medium, it will only be as up to date as the last time you did a backup. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing if your backup is valid. As a result, on-site data access and storage represents a huge vulnerability for any dental practice.

On-site storage also exposes your data to potential accidents or natural disasters. For example, with offices that experience floods or fires, there is a very real possibility that many years’ worth of information will be lost – particularly if backups are store on-site as well. The old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket definitely applies here.

Will a Cloud Platform Affect How My Dental Practice Accesses Files?

Yes and no. When you use cloud servers to store your information, you are taking an important step toward preventive theft and loss of data. But this doesn’t mean it will be more difficult to access.

Not only do cloud server solutions store client information more securely, coupled with data encryption, they enable secure integrated, automated, patient communication solutions. These provide a safe and efficient means of information exchange between the practice and patients via email and text, particularly for appointment reminders and confirmation.

Another advantage of cloud computing is convenience: because data is stored in the Cloud rather than on local hard drives, your team members can access information from anywhere, on almost any device. And should there be a data security breach, access devices are not affected. If your workstations are damaged in a natural disaster or fire, all your information is already safely backed up remotely in the Cloud.

For these reasons, cloud-based practice management software is rapidly becoming the platform of choice for dental practices.

Don’t take any chances with your patients’ data; consider switching over to a cloud server solution specifically designed for use by dental practices. If you decide to stay with a local server solution for data storage, at the very least, make sure your practice data is regularly backed up in the cloud.

Can A Visit To Your Dental Office Be Harmful To Your Health?

Guest Post by Dave Rajczak –

Whether you work in an auto body shop or a dental office, as a result of daily operations you are continuously exposed to various levels of bio-aerosols and other toxins. However, within a body shop, the customer is not usually part of daily operations and remains separate from the production environment and hazardous materials.

The dental office is unique in that both the dental team and their patients share the same air and are exposed to the same hazardous materials during service hours.

Dental offices in fact have the potential to be more polluted than most industries because they have high traffic areas that produce bio-aerosols (containing bacteria and viruses) resulting from dental procedures and the constant cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and dental instruments. It has become clear with more research over the years that untreated, these contaminants are absorbed into the bloodstream and have systemic effects on humans such as increased risk of infectious disease transfer, breathing difficulty including asthma, decreased lung function and heart problems.

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Aside from the health aspects, from a legal perspective, the Occupational Health and Safety Act stipulates that all employers including dentists have a general duty to protect workers (and in this case also patients) by providing adequate ventilation and replacement air free from contamination.

How does one know if an air quality problem exists?

Most potentially harmful particulates cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore it is difficult to know their level of presence and corresponding risk to health. It is perhaps helpful to use a simple analogy and think of the work environment as a swimming pool. If the swimming pool turns green we automatically know it is likely unhealthy to swim in it and for health and aesthetic reasons we sanitize the water and run it through a filtration system until it is clear. Although we can never completely rid the water of every single contaminant due the constant addition of new agents, with continuous filtration we know that the water will be safe and pleasing to swim in.

Measuring a working environment for potentially harmful toxin levels

By using a Particle Counter device (example) that takes in a specific sized sample of air and counts the number of particles of various sizes we can “see” the quality of the air and compare it to the acceptable levels determined for the intended use of the room or environment.

For levels that are deemed unusually high, the simple and most practical solution is a medical grade air cleaner (example) that will remove the vast majority of dangerous particulate matter from the air. This breaks the cycle of airborne disease transmission, which may lead to infection and/or other symptoms previously mentioned.

Tangible benefits of cleaning the air

Practices that have implemented air purification systems reported reduced staff absenteeism and improved performance. By installing such systems in their offices, practice owners are not only complying with the law – their staff and patients also notice the cleaner air.

An investment in a safe and healthy environment will help protect everyone that enters your office and may even influence patients to refer their family and friends!