As any dentist or dental practice administrator is well aware, missed appointments account for the biggest loss of revenue in dental practice. Software Advice, a leading software research company, recently released the results of two surveys detailing how practice management software might reduce no-shows and increase return visits.
The Days of Phone Calls are Over
On average a dental practice sees approximately 2500 patients and they encourage them to visit twice a year for a check-up. Historically, front office administrators would call or write a card to let a patient know either to schedule their appointment or to alert them of an upcoming appointment. This is still standard operating procedure in many practices. Others have moved to a half-manual/half-digital method of organizing patient information, while only a small percentage have moved to a software that handles all scheduling and record keeping.
What Patients Want
In the Software Advice survey, over half of dental patients noted that they would prefer to receive an alert by text or email. Only 25% wished to receive a phone call and less than 20% wanted something mailed to them. As dentists typically retain less than 41% of the new patients they see, using a software program that automates reminders could be of real benefit to their practice. Not only does it free up staff time, allowing them to focus on more important tasks, but it also means meeting customer expectations and providing a higher value. This even holds true for older patients - they prefer email reminders over text messages, but they still prefer automated reminders nonetheless.
What Dentists Want
When it comes to scheduling appointments, a small and growing segment would like to schedule using an online portal. Using a software program with an online scheduling function and built-in email/text automation is a proactive next step for any practice.
In another survey, Software Advice surveyed hundreds of dental practitioners to find out what methods they were using for records retention and if they were to purchase a new software program what their most requested features would be. As it turns out, more than half are still relying on manual methods for things like health records, imaging, and even billing.
Overwhelmingly, buyers want an integrated suite that would include the following:
- Electronic Health Records
- Automated Reminder System
- Staff Scheduling
The integrated suite would, of course, have to be HIPAA compliant, as well as compliant with any other government regulations.
The added benefit of having this type of software is patient retention and satisfaction. As discussed, sending patient reminders via text or email is highly valued. Once your patients contact/visit you, having all of their records available at the click of a mouse or touch of a screen shows that you respect their time while also improving efficiency of your staff.
Those practices who implement a suitable patient scheduling software will be ready for the future – and all the retained customers that come with it.
Do you use any automation in your dental practice? What differences have you noticed after implementing automation?