Getting Back on Your Feet: Optimize Review Management Software for Effortless Feedback

In March 2020, popular review websites, including Google and Yelp, temporarily disabled business reviews to avoid misconceptions and bad reviews due to COVID-19 spreading in North America. While this measure did not last long, it reinforced the impact that public reviews have on small businesses such as dental practices. 

We have discussed the prevalence of reviews for dental practices before. Online reviews and public ratings of your practice are a significant factor for appealing to prospective patients. Learning about your patients’ perspectives also help your team improve their social skills and treatment quality by providing an opportunity for more empathy and understanding, which, in turn, may alleviate patient anxieties. On top of using reviews to improve patient experiences, reviews are an excellent resource when establishing your practice’s KPIs. Understanding patient perceptions can often be just as insightful as numerical data.  

Reviews are just as important as ever, but dental providers and their teams do not have much time to focus on reputation management. Catching up on dental treatments has taken the forefront for thousands of offices where patients are months behind their due dates for hygiene, restorations, and various other procedures. Having a review management system in place works in the background while your team focuses on providing outstanding treatment. Having a review manager is generally simple to maintain, especially if incorporated directly into your practice management software.  

How does review management software work? 

There are different processes for different review management systems. Typically, emails or texts prompt patients to select a pre-made rating (for instance, a thumbs up/thumbs down option) or ask patients to click a button, leading them to a web page where they can leave their review. Webpage reviews allow for more in-depth reviews but may result in fewer responses. 

Once you have your software set up to fit your office’s unique needs, you can send a follow-up email or text message to patients that you have treated on a specific day. Sending same-day emails and texts is typically the best course of action because the experience is still fresh in your patient’s mind. The email messages invite patients to navigate to a page where they can rate their experience at your clinic. 

Positive reviews result in encouragement to post online, such as to Google Business or Yelp. Negative or neutral feedback encourages the patient to reach out to your office by leaving a comment or calling your office instead of posting a harsh review. Your team can personally reach out to any ratings that are not positive, allowing the patient to feel heard. Personalized responses to bad reviews also provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate which aspects your practice may require improvement.  

If you are interested in ABELDent’s review management software, feel free to reach out to get in control of your practice’s online reputation.  

Why You Should Keep Track of Your Practice’s Performance

Business decisions are a part of daily life for dental professionals. Whether you are a provider and owner, or you have a different role in a practice, you have an impact on and are impacted by the practice’s business decisions.   

COVID-19 brought economic stress to most industries, including dentistry.  While most practices in Canada are open to some extent, whether to see emergency patients or to offer a wider variety of services, it will be some time before things are “back to normal”.    

As your practice gets back on its feet, it’s as important as ever remember the words of management thinker Peter Drucker, who said “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  While the business environment will improve as the negative impacts of COVID-19 subside, some practices will recover more quickly, in part by measuring their practice performance and finding opportunities to improve at all stages of the recovery.   

Key Performance Indicators (abbreviated as KPIs) are measure the most important indicators of practice success.  During this unusual time, it might be beneficial to look at the KPIs you measure to ensure that they are well suited to your needs in the coming months.  For example, tracking the potential for non-essential treatment may help you to determine how quickly to add hygiene hours to your schedule.    

In late 2019, we discussed three options for measuring KPIs for your dental practice by generating reports. The three methods included using Microsoft tools such as Word, Excel, and Power BI, and also doing it manually by extracting key information from standard reports. If you use our practice management software, we have a solution that doesn’t require third-party software. 

ABELDent Insights is an upcoming integrated data measurement tool from ABELDent that generates viewable statistics based on ABELDent data. Viewing the KPIs and data trends in ABELDent Insights can help ABELDent users to determine their practice’s strengths, weaknesses and progress toward goals. Measuring these critical success factors helps practices to know what is working, and to plan adjustments where there is an opportunity for improvement.    

ABELDent Insights provides simple displays simple infographics on such measures as production, including often-used KPIs such as the ratio of production generated by dentists compared to hygiene providers. ABELDent Insights also shows scheduler downtime, including statistics regarding no-shows, cancellations, and inactive patients. This can help to identify which days or times are hard to fill in order to adjust provider hours or try to fill those gaps.

Once you have identified your practice’s KPIs, you can work towards finding solutions that are feasible for your practice, and ideal for your team and your patients. Maybe a provider needs to focus on taking on a few more patients, or perhaps some inactive patients need to be contacted for their hygiene appointments. Regardless of what your practice’s needs are, there is a huge benefit to knowing your areas for improvement, as well as knowing what your office does well. 

3 Reasons an Oral Health Blog Boosts Your Practice

Health professionals are preparing to reopen to the public, presenting an excellent opportunity for creating informational materials. As you reopen your practice, educating patients on the measures you and your team are taking to ensure everyone’s safety will encourage your patients to come in, as well as dismiss any misinformation that they may have regarding their safety. Making information readily available via social media, your website, a company blog, or even flyers and handouts benefits both your practice and your community. This blog post focuses on the reasons for having a dental blog for your office.

Valuable patient treatment is not limited to work done inside of the operatory. Providing regular and digestible resources for your patients to improve their health literacy improves their wellbeing. Having an understanding of their own oral health generally makes patients more enthusiastic about their oral hygiene and necessary dental treatments. This naturally leads to increased patient influx due to word-of-mouth, as well in more recent times, good practice reviews. 

While it is important to continue accumulating positive patient reviews by providing exceptional service, posting expert blogs builds practice credibility while contributing to your practice’s online presence. Great blog posts in turn also foster more positive reviews that together drive more patients to your practice. Maintaining positive reviews is one of the many reasons for having an office blog. For this post, we will present three specific ways that maintaining a blog can boost your business. 

1. It influences how prospective patients perceive your practice 

Instead of first visiting physical locations, people these days tend to screen businesses online beforehand. Potential patients may be curious about your office’s values, the treatment that is offered, and your quality of service. Prospective patients often refer to public reviews and your homepage first for this information. Unfortunately, several bad reviews can turn potential candidates off if even if they may not appear credible. However, if you provide a blog, you can present your business values on your own terms. Providing regular blog posts adds value to your online presence and works to build trust with your audience. Potential patients can read your own content, which is highly preferred in comparison to reading medium-to-low rated reviews that are beyond your control.

2. It educates your patients and the public 

When people experience dental pain, they are likely to research their symptoms online to determine whether their issue is temporary, or if they need to seek professional help. You can increase your page views to these people by properly geotagging (adding geographical identification to) your posts, implementing SEO strategies and using key words as identifiers in your post. These strategies and tools are usually included with most major blogging platforms such as WordPress or Blogger. Blogs of this type expand your public domain since they will attract both individuals researching the symptoms of their dental discomfort, and folks who are reading your posts as they are seeking out a new dentist.  

Blog posts that educate the public on good oral health habits remind individuals of the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth and potentially prompt them to do something about it. A blog that educates the public not only contributes to a healthier community that values their oral health but can also be an effective source of new patients for your practice.  

3. It shows that you care – and helps you gain patient loyalty 

person on phone texting gif

Your dental practice’s blog can subtly and over time, work to reduce no-shows and missed appointments. Regular blog posts, especially if they are sent to patients on a subscription list, create a new conduit of communication for your patients. This open stream fosters patient trust towards you and your staff and helps build credibility for your practice.  The trust formed from these blog posts builds patient loyalty that will likely translate into more booked appointments and fewer cancellations and no-shows. 

While blog posts can present this opportunity, be mindful that your patients likely receive a lot of emails per day and many may end up in their junk mail folder never to be read. As a result, they may not even see your blog posts unless they go to your website on their own..  

A strategy to combat this problem is to inform your patients of your blogs on a regular basis and what valuable information they offer. For example, try embedding a blog link in your automated appointment or outstanding treatment reminders. Additionally, you could post a sign in the reception area encouraging patients to look at your website and blog. Lastly, make sure you provide a blog link directly from your homepage so that visitors to your website can easily find your blogs. 

It may seem overwhelming – but you’re not alone 

There are many resources that are made to help you and your practice have a great online presence starting with this guide. For practical advice for starting or maintaining a dental blog check out this article.  

Even just sharing and briefly adding to posts from other authors is helpful for company blog upkeep.* For instance, Colgate’s blog covers a variety of topics pertaining to oral health with information that may be highly beneficial to your patients. Making information like easily available to your patients encourages healthy oral practices.

If the commitment of posting your own blogs regularly scares you here are some suggestions: 

  • Consider starting by writing a few posts over a few months and then evaluate your engagement 
  • Share posts or articles written by oral health experts as mentioned, but add more value by summarizing the main points so your patients can easily understand the premise 
  • Delegate blog posts to a trusted person in your office with dental expertise and/or find a team member who has strong communication skills.  
  • Do an email promotion of the posts to your patients that have given you permission for email marketing.*  

Whether it is a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly blog post, having an oral health blog can greatly benefit your dental practice by increasing the number of positive reviews you receive, establishing your credibility in the marketplace and improving your overall patient relations. 

* Note: be sure to always give credit to the original author. 
* Note: be sure that you are acting with CASL’s protocols 

Establishing and Monitoring Key Objectives for Dental Practice Success (Part 3 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series, the concept of Practice Management by Objectives (PMBO) was introduced. The first two objectives of the methodology were outlined; achieving financial targets and increasing hygiene and treatment plan acceptance. Objectives 3 and 4, growing/retaining your patient base and advancing your scheduling were covered in Part 2 of this series. This post concludes the series with Objectives 5 and 6.

OBJECTIVE 5: SAVE TIME AND MONEY BY TRANSITIONING TO PAPERLESS 

Implementing electronic charting and digital radiography result in administrative synergies that are not possible with paper records. A complete patient profile is maintained by efficiently integrating all information related to the patient in one electronic chart. Benefits of transitioning to a “paperless” dental practice include: 

  • Elimination of transaction double entry, manual errors, and inconsistent information 
  • More complete and legible charts through customizable template data entry 
  • Dynamic record-keeping by accumulating historical data that can be viewed incrementally by date 
  • Minimizes need for organizing, retrieving and filing charts and radiographs 
  • Time-saving and reduced confusion by allowing access to data from any place on the network 
  • Requires less floor space
  • Improved data protection since clinical data previously on paper charts can now be backed up
  • Protection of patient and practice privacy 

OBJECTIVE 6: STAFF EMPOWERMENT FOR ENHANCED SOFTWARE EFFICIENCY & SECURITY  

Your goals and objectives including the ones described above and part 1 and 2 of this blog series aren’t achievable without buy-in and participation from a well-informed and trained dental team.  Your team especially needs to be well-versed in how to use your dental practice management software to effectively to ensure the data required for monitoring your practice performance is entered accurately and can be retrieved easily in the desired format.  

With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, the entire team should be well versed in data security measures so that your practice is protected from data breaches. Environmental threats and hazards such as fires, storms, floods, power failures, and electrical surges can cause serious – sometimes irreparable – damage that can destroy your business in the absence of proper planning. 

To summarize, you can use the practice objectives and recommendations outlined above to articulate to your dental team, your own specific goals and practice objectives in a clearly defined way.  The use of KPIs will allow you to quantify your expectations and monitor your progress in meeting them.   But remember, all this is only possible with the right dental team in place.

A Reliable Tool for Objectively Evaluating Your Practice

Are you finding your practice’s production plateauing? Are you looking for new opportunities for your dental office? Do you need to get your practice back on track?

Much like MBO (Management by Objectives), SWOT Analysis has been used for decades by businesses to objectively evaluate their sustainability and how they might better respond to their environment for growth and prosperity. From that perspective, your dental practice is no different from other businesses – it is essential that you do periodic self-assessments for continuous improvement.

But what exactly is SWOT Analysis? In short, it is a technique used to determine and define your practice’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here is a template you can use to start your own SWOT analysis with links to valuable background information:

Once you have a general idea of the composition of each SWOT category you can begin to drill down to specific examples that apply to you in each category such as the ones referenced in the chart below:

SWOT Analysis example tailored towards a dental practice

Once you complete the above exercise, you should have a much greater insight into what you are doing well, the factors that need addressing and the position your practice occupies in the dental marketplace. The information you uncover can be the foundation for developing a realistic and relevant business plan going forward.

Group of dental professionals having a meeting

Another benefit of SWOT Analysis is that this technique can be applied at a micro level, for example, deciding on whether to take on an associate, expand capacity or move to a new location. In conclusion, SWOT Analysis gives you heightened awareness so that you are in a much better position to capitalize on your strengths, address weaknesses where feasible, act on opportunities and mitigate threats.

Establishing and Monitoring Key Objectives for Dental Practice Success (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of this series, the concept of Practice Management by Objectives (PMBO) was introduced and the first two objectives of the methodology were outlined.  Part 2 of this series follows with Objectives 3 and 4.   

OBJECTIVE 3: GROW AND RETAIN A LOYAL PATIENT BASE 

For sustained practice growth, it is important to both attract new patients to the practice as well as minimize the loss of the existing patient base.

In summary, dental practices should know: 

Specific KPIs to help acquire the knowledge above and that and also provide the necessary insight to make appropriate operational adjustments include: 

OBJECTIVE 4: OPTIMIZE APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING AND RESOURCE UTILIZATION 

The dental office’s appointment schedule is the source from which all practice revenue is generated and thus provides the greatest opportunity for productivity and profitability improvements. Managing the practice’s time through schedule optimization can also minimize team stress and increase patient satisfaction. Using a well-designed electronic appointment scheduler, tracking appointment metrics and implementing appointment scheduling best practices are the key to achieving these goals.   

In summary, dental practices should know: 

  • If future scheduled appointments will allow it to meet production goals 
  • The efficiency of booking appointments and the amount of downtime 
  • The patients to call when an unplanned opening occurs 
  • The patients that are most likely to arrive late, cancel or miss appointments 
  • Methods for reducing no shows and short notice cancellations 

Specific KPIs to help acquire the knowledge above and optimize your appointment scheduling protocols include: 

Stay tuned for part 3 where we conclude this series by covering Objective 5 (Save Time and Money by Transitioning to Paperless) and Objective 6 (Staff Empowerment for Enhanced Software Performance and Security).   

Establishing and Monitoring Key Objectives for Dental Practice Success (Part 1 of 3)

Management by Objectives (MBO), is a well-established method for setting business goals, monitoring performance and achieving desired results.  Developed by Peter Drucker decades ago, even today it is still very much in use by businesses.  As your dental practice is a business, there is no reason why you cannot benefit from MBO’s guiding principles as well.  This blog presents a modified version of MBO specifically for dentistry, which we will correspondingly refer to as Practice Management by Objectives (PMBO).    

Using PMBO methodology, six common practice objectives are identified along with relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – measurable, statistical representations of the degree to which each objective is being achieved.   Many of the KPIs identified can be produced from your dental software’s reporting function but in some cases, additional manual calculations may be required to derive the final result.   Some other desired KPI’s may only be produced through manual tracking and calculations of data when the software itself does not store the necessary data.       

The benefits of PMBO include:   

  • Helping dental practices stay focused on what will make them more successful 
  • Objective measurement of practice performance and monitoring for better decision making   
  • Identification of administrative efficiencies that result in increased practice productivity 
  • Better return on investment from practice management software since it is the repository for the data used to track results 

OBJECTIVE 1: ACHIEVE FINANCIAL TARGETS 

To ensure a financially successful practice we need to monitor and measure the performance of the following dental practice areas:  

  1. Overall Practice Production 
  2. Average Revenue per patient
  3. Accounts Receivable/Collections
  4. Practice Expenses

In a previous blog, I provide a guide on choosing the appropriate KPI’s to use for each practice area and common dental industry benchmarks to aspire to.   

OBJECTIVE 2: INCREASE HYGIENE AND TREATMENT PLAN ACCEPTANCE 

Patients may recognize the wisdom of a practice’s dental health recommendations, yet many patients will not take the initiative to follow through on them. As a result, recommended but unscheduled treatment can end up lost in clinical charts and practice management systems if not properly managed and pursued by the practice.  I recently wrote about how to uncover this unscheduled treatment and turn it into new profits.  

To gauge how well you are doing in scheduling and completing required treatment here’s an ideal list of things you should know: 

  • The success of your hygiene program  
  • How efficient your hygiene program is at identifying new treatment opportunities 
  • Which patients have outstanding treatment plans or other unfulfilled treatment 
  • How successful the practice is in scheduling the identified recommended treatment 
  • Patients that are good candidates to fill last minute openings 

Specific KPIs that address the above so that you can make appropriate operational adjustments include: 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we cover Objective 3 (Grow and Retain a Loyal Patient Base) and Objective 4 (Optimized Appointment Scheduling and Resource Utilization).  

The Many Benefits of Expanding Your Patient Demographics

Should Your Clinic Be Offering Family Services?

At one point or another during your career, you will need to decide what type of practice you want to focus on. You may have started out serving a specific demographic group, but in today’s competitive market, if you want to grow, you need to expand your patient target base and services offered.

Broadening your client base ultimately means more production and increased profitability potential.

These expansions can take many forms — some dentists decide to focus on serving the particular healthcare needs of seniors, while others may branch out into cosmetic dentistry — but in most  cases, expansion requires investment in new technology, training, and even personnel.

If you’re thinking about expanding your practice this year, however, one of the most rewarding areas to move into is family dentistry.

While taking on children and teens as patients can be challenging, and shouldn’t be done in half measures, in my experience there are some very good reasons to do so. Here are just a few of them:

Children Need More Work Over Time

Taking on children as patients is one of the best ways to guarantee future consistent business — period.

When I talk to dentists who have chosen not to serve young children, one of the reasons I often hear is that it is simply too much work. While it may take a little adjustment, working with children is a rewarding experience that helps keep you and your staff on your toes, while also promising to bring in more future work.

As I noted in my post about how to make your clinic more child-friendly last year, there are a few things you need to do if you want kids to feel comfortable at your clinic — not only do children require more care and a gentler approach, you may need to:

  • Retrain your staff
  • Work with parents
  • Make your reception area more dynamic

Expanding your practice to include children is something that requires significant forethought.

Because they are still growing, kids need more regular check-ups, and often require more specialized work as they get older (retainers, braces, etc.). This means that if you put in the effort to make children (and their parents) feel comfortable and establish a rapport, they can provide reliable business for years to come.

Here are a few general tips to remember when treating children:

Speak gently and use simple words

Talking in a friendly, mild tone while using easy-to-understand words will help put your young patients at ease. When you use simple words to explain dental procedures, it helps a child understand the process before it happens which will reduce anxiety.

Engage them with conversation

Verbal engagement is another helpful tool to keeping your young patients in a positive state of mind. Giving your younger patients tasks such as listing their favorite sports or super heroes is a simple but effective way of keeping them pleasantly distracted. I’ve also heard from numerous dentists that engaging kids with stories or even simple conversation about their day can make them feel more comfortable about the entire experience.

Families Grow

Not only will individual children provide you with more business as they grow older, if you offer excellent care for the child, you may also attract the parents, and any future children they might have. And because young parents are constantly sharing information with each other, you may find that your good work is attracting other families through word-of-mouth.

When it comes to attracting new patients, this kind of organic advertising is gold — and if you make a good impression on your patients, you can use reputation management software to facilitate and leverage good reviews from young families to make your patient outreach even stronger.

Millennial and Gen Z parents rely on reviews (both from peers and from online sources) more than any other metric, and if you’re putting in the work to attract, please, and retain child patients and their parents, you’ll be creating a deep well of future work.

Young Families are More Technologically Savvy

One of the challenges of running a dental clinic that serves many different age groups is the difficulty in standardizing your patient communication protocols. Seniors may want a phone call, while teens and young parents are more likely to respond to a text.

As a result, focusing on younger patients and younger families makes it easier to streamline your communications. You can use to automate reminders, and can use other time-saving tools to keep track of your patients’ preferences and keep them in the loop about their care.

Your Interventions Will Be Life-Changing

In this post, I have focused on the benefits that becoming a family-focused dental practice can have on your patient outreach and, by extension, your bottom line. But these aren’t the only reasons to reach out to children and teens.

Most of the dentists I know got into the profession because they genuinely care about patients, and take pleasure in the knowledge that they are making people’s lives better. When you work with kids and teens, the work you do is literally life-changing, and you get to see the concrete results of it in the short to medium term.

There’s nothing quite as rewarding as watching a child with crooked, unhealthy teeth slowly develop a smile they can be proud of for the rest of their life!

If you want to grow your practice in 2020 by reaching out to new demographics, these are just a few of the reasons you should consider a move toward family-focused dentistry!

The Art of Acquiring New Patients

No matter where I travel in Canada, the one thing most dental clinics I visit have in common is the desire to expand their service by reaching new patients.

According to Statistics Canada, only 75% of Canadians visited a dentist at some point in 2018 – which means that at least 25% of Canadians either don’t have a regular dentist, or don’t see their dentist annually.

While this might seem like a significant pool of potential patients for dental clinics to draw on, the same study reported that 22% of Canadians said they didn’t go to the dentist because of the cost (many Canadians are without insurance due to part-time employment, self employment or retirement.

In practical terms, this means that clinics are either competing for that narrow percentage of Canadians who can afford regular dental care but who don’t have a regular provider, or are trying to make the case that they can provide better care than their competitors. No wonder dental clinics are working so hard to attract new patients!

Patient acquisition under these circumstances can be difficult, and requires a strategic, targeted approach based on patient satisfaction and playing on your strengths. If you want to grow your clinic, here are four of the most effective ways you can distinguish yourself from the competition.

Patient Reviews

In the age of Yelp, patient reviews – and reputation management more generally – are the most essential tool a dental clinic has for attracting new patients.

In 2019, the vast majority of new patients used dental reviews as one of their primary ways of deciding which clinic to visit, and according to at least one study, for nearly a third of these people the star rating was the most important aspect of the review.

Here are just a few of the main benefits of growing your reputation:

  • Increased Revenue: Companies with a higher rating and better reviews will attract more business
  • Higher Trust: People trust brands and services (especially those in medicine and dentistry) that have the best reputations
  • Better Talent: Dental clinics with strong, positive reputations attract better staff

Clinics that take the time to develop and manage a strong reputation are trusted more because people tend to follow crowds. The more they see others leaning toward one option, the more likely they are to do the same.

You can call it the herd mentality or the “broken window” theory of customer choice. The fact is that 83% of people automatically trust brand recommendations that come from friends or loved ones, and almost 70% of people put more stock in the opinions of fellow consumers than traditional advertising campaigns.

A well-managed reputation enables your clinic to dictate the first impression it sets for prospective patients. It also highlights the strengths of your business and can counter any negative impressions. Finally, a solid online reputation solidifies your business as a thought leader and a go-to source for problem-solving within your industry, elevating you above the competition.

If you want to acquire new patients, you need to make sure that your practice is being reviewed positively online.

Social Media

Social media should be a core component of any modern advertising campaign, but using social media effectively is about more than just starting up a corporate Instagram account and Facebook page – social media is a ubiquitous part of people’s lives and leveraging it for maximal impact requires creativity.

If there are particular demographics you want to tap into – new parents, college students, or seniors, for example – you should consider using targeted advertising tools to make sure your ads reach the patients you want to impress.

Improved Follow-Through

One of the biggest challenges that any clinic faces is turning first-time and occasional visitors into loyal patients. Many Canadians in their twenties and thirties don’t book regular, annual appointments, but only visit the dentist when they notice a problem.

It is difficult to form a strong relationship with patients that you see less than once a year.  The longer any patient is away from your practice, the more likely it is that they will try another dental clinic when they need care.

For this reason, improving follow-through using modern dental software that helps you keep track of the people who come through your clinic is key if you want to turn these one-time visitors into long-term valued patients. Contact management tools available in dental software can also help you stay in touch with patients using their preferred methods.

Expanded Hours

Sometimes, to reach new people you need to change the way you operate. In the twenty-first century, when a growing number of people (and especially young people) are working irregular hours, healthcare providers who want to attract younger patients may need to adjust when they provide care.

For example, offering appointments in the early morning, evening, or weekend may be all you need to do in order to appeal to a new demographic of workers who don’t have the freedom to take time during for a dental appointment during the day.  

It is no secret that dentistry in Canada is an increasingly competitive marketplace. If you want to grow your clinic’s patient base or reach new demographics, you will need to be strategic about your approach to patient acquisition.

In my experience, the clinics best able to do this are the ones that utilize a number of different strategies.

A coordinated campaign that advertises the quality of care you provide and emphasizes the value you can offer patients will usually yield the strongest results. That’s why you should use a mix of digital strategy, cutting-edge software, reputation management, and accommodate the real-world needs of the patients you want to attract.   

3 New Year’s Resolutions Every Dental Clinic Should Make

With 2019 almost over, many of us are looking back on the past year and thinking about what we are proud of – and what we wish we had done differently. 

I always find the end of year holidays a perfect time for reflection. With everything slowing down, and with time away from work giving much-needed perspective, it’s easier to gain a sense of perspective on the triumphs and challenges that have come and gone. Inevitably, these thoughts of what has passed lead to thoughts about the year to come. 

A person standing in a room

Description automatically generated

New Year’s resolutions are a great way to explore goals and aspirations for the coming year, and this applies just as much to business life as it does to personal life, so if you want to start 2020 on the right foot, here are a few dental-clinic related resolutions to consider making.  

1. Streamline Your Communications

Communication – whether with patients, prospects, or between team members – has always been part of the essential everyday work of dental clinics around the world, and so keeping up with changing patterns in how we communicate in the healthcare industry is essential. 

But good communication is about a lot more than just making sure you are texting people rather than calling them. Smooth internal communication protocols are essential for any dental clinic, and using a software platform that provides an integrated way to share information and update key team members is going to be a big part of that in the coming years. 

The right communication platform will centralize the communication features your clinic uses every day, which can help you save time and reduce chaos and confusion. Keeping an archive or a history of your clinic’s communication, patient contact info, and even account balances all in one place means you won’t need to purchase a number of different software platforms, or have multiple apps open all at once.

You can also use message templates to maintain a sense of consistency with your messaging, and save your communications staff vital time. The right communications management software can also help you schedule messages in advance, allowing you to automate a great deal of the work.

Introducing new tools and platforms will mean that your team needs to be on the same page, but it may also mean exploring new options staff-based communication platforms outside the office – like mobile dental applications that help your team access and send the information they need no matter where they are.  

Three Person Looking at X-ray Result

2. Make Your Scheduling More Patient-Centric

The days when patients picked up the phone when they wanted to book or reschedule an appointment are long gone. So, if you want to reach new patients in younger age groups, you need to make sure your approach to scheduling is calibrated to appeal to that tech-savy demographic who overwhelmingly prefer to be contacted via text or email. 

Understanding the importance of multi-channel communications is key, as some patients prefer to be contacted in different ways. Using a combination of text, phone, and email messages will allow you to maximize your outreach.

One of the best ways to develop more patient-centered scheduling is through dental appointment software that makes it easy to contact current and prospective patients using their preferred methods of communication. 

Not only will this help with patient acquisition and retention, it will also make it easier to ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks due to miscommunication.  

3. Upgrade Your Data Storage

One major concern that every dental clinic needs to be taking seriously these days is data storage. 

In the dental profession, we tend not to think of data as being at the heart of the service we provide, but the truth is that without data, it is impossible to offer high-level care. After all, how can you offer a useful prognosis to your patient’s oral complaints if you don’t have access to their medical history?

Dental clinics face two choices when it comes to their data: store it locally using on-site servers or upload it to the cloud. While storing information locally may seem easier – and in some cases, may be preferable – the cloud offers far greater security and convenience. 

The benefits of cloud-based data storage include:

Greater Accessibility and Usability

With cloud-based data storage (like Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive), users can drag and drop – and then modify – files from anywhere, with no prior technical knowledge.

Disaster Recovery

Having a data backup plan is important for any business, but doubly so for a patient-based business like your dental clinic. Cloud storage creates a constant, real-time backup of all your important documents – including sensitive patient information, which can be recovered instantly from anywhere.

Reduced Cost

Internal power and resources associated with private servers are wiped clean with cloud storage. While cloud-based options will charge a usage cost, this basic fee is far less than the alternative.

If you want to enter the next decade with a modern data storage protocol that will meet the needs of tomorrow, look into some of the dental cloud server options that are available. 

Many things go into successfully running a healthcare business, but in my experience the ability to anticipate and prepare for upcoming challenges is one of the most important. 

As you reflect on the accomplishments of 2019, don’t forget that a whole new set of challenges is waiting for you around the corner in 2020. If you want to make sure you start the year strong, investing in improved communications, scheduling, and data storage software is one of the best places to start. 

Get in touch with ABELDent today to find out how our unique dental platform can help provide you with the integrated tools that will help your clinic flourish in the coming year.