Do you know that it’s Dental Assistant Recognition Week?
If not, don’t feel badly. You’re not alone. I’m terrible at remembering even names, which naturally means that I’m even worse at remembering important dates. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve shamefully joined the last-minute losers standing in front of the Hallmark section at the grocery store near my house.
Fortunately, it’s not too late; you have a whole week to show appreciation for the dental assistants in your office.
Remember: employees of any sort perform better and are more likely to go the extra mile when they feel appreciated. Recognizing their effort also boosts morale and encourages team unity - both things that make your office a better place to be and a more efficient practice.
Take the time and forethought to recognize the dental assistants in your office and everyone will benefit. Below are a few tips on celebrating Dental Assistant Recognition Week.
Go for flowers, balloons, and/or banner across or behind the front desk. Recognition that is visible to everyone will make your dental assistant feel especially appreciated. It’s also a great way to get the week started and set the tone for a week of recognition. If it’s visible and obvious enough, even your patients will get into the spirit. Appreciating your dental assistants has the added benefit of improving patient satisfaction. Everyone loves a good dental assistant!
Single each assistant out and thank them for something they personally contribute to the practice. Take time to pull them aside and address them on an individual level to let them know that you appreciate what they do. It doesn’t need to be a scheduled event, just a moment of one-on-one conversation. If you aren’t good on the spot, scrawl a thank you on a card.
Not only will it make them feel that your recognition and appreciation is genuine, it will also help you. It can be easy to get swept up in the Big Office Picture, so step back and consider the things you appreciate about them. Just a kind word of gratitude can go a long way.
Take an hour out of the week to have everyone step out of their formal roles and laugh together. Bring in lunch for the team. Have everyone wear party hats. Get a cake (or go with a healthier option!) Throw confetti on the desk. Make a toast to the dental assistants and let them know that you couldn’t do it without them.
It doesn’t have to be much, but this is a good time to spend a little cash to show them how important they are. Dental assistants are a critical part of any dental team, and they have a huge impact on patient experience. Unless you have time and great ideas for individual gifts, go for gift cards. If no one in the office has insight on your assistants’ favorite shopping location, go with the safe bet: most malls will allow you to get a gift card that works in any shop in the directory.
Even if you don’t do something every day, keep recognizing them all week long. Throw a grin and a, “Have I mentioned how great you are yet today?” their direction every few hours. Add, “Oh… and Happy Dental Assistant Recognition Week!”, at the end of random interactions during the day.
My favorite idea? Grab a card for every day they work this week. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can even get some paper and make your own with a colored marker (the worse you are at making cards, the more they will get a kick out of it!) Every day, write one thing you appreciate about them. By the end of the week, they’ll come in to the office looking forward to the next card.
Celebrate Dental Assistant Recognition Week. Once next week begins, they will feel recognized, appreciated, and even more motivated to be the kind of assistant that deserves your praise!
At Solutionreach, we are lucky enough to have experts in a variety of fields.
Today, our resident videographer and talented cartoonist has done it again with a few funny comics to brighten your Valentine’s Day. Who says healthcare can’t be entertaining?
**This is first in a series of articles about improving patient recare for healthcare practices. The introduction to the series can be viewed on our blog here.
It’s a lot cheaper to reactivate the patients you haven’t seen in a while than it is to market to new ones, but having an effective patient recare system is also important for practices that aren’t concerned with the bottom line. Even if your schedule is chock full, active patients are healthy patients. After all…isn’t that the point?
The purpose of this series is to give healthcare professionals solutions for creating a successful recare plan. Before we discuss the things you should be implementing, let’s address the methods you should reconsider.
In the past, the most popular method of contacting patients for recare has been via postcards. In the last ten years, however, the effectiveness and practicality of the postcard method has been rapidly diminishing. So, the first recare tactic to reconsider: postcards.
4 Reasons to Ditch the Postcards
1. Your patients care about the environment (and so should you.)
For the sake of keeping this about your patients and your bottom line, let’s avoid the whole “going green” argument. It is beneficial, however, to think about the possibility of alienating environmentally aware patients, since there are more and more of them.
2. The ROI is pitiful.
Here’s the deal: the ROI for postcards was only 9.6% in 2012, and that number is continually decreasing. The cost of sending a postcard keeps going up, and the effectiveness keeps going down (more on that in a minute.) You’re paying for the cards, the ink, the print service, and the postage.
You’re also paying your staff; sending postcards requires a lot of staff involvement.
Even if you have an abundance of marketing cash just burning a hole in your pocket, it’s just not a wise business choice anymore.
3. Your staff has better things to do.
It could be engaging with the patients in your waiting room, it could be updating your social media, it could be creating a patient newsletter or writing in your practice blog…whatever priorities you have for your front desk staff, spending time sending ineffective postcards shouldn’t be one of them.
4. They don’t work (the postcards, not your staff.)
Obviously, this is the big one. If they worked, the ROI wouldn’t be ridiculous and the time would be well spent. Sure, you’d still be ticking off Mother Nature, but it might be worth the risk if patients were paying attention, scheduling appointments, increasing your revenue, and staying healthier.
Hurdle #1: The Mailbox is now a Trash Box.
Bills are paid online or through autopay, statements go to your email, letters have been replaced with Facebook messages, and even cards are sent via animated GIFs. The only things to pay attention to are packages and the occasional wedding invitation, which is pretty easy to spot.
The rest of it is garbage. If it even resembles a solicitation (which, let’s face it, postcards do), it goes into the recycle bin with the rest of the junk mail.
Hurdle #2: It’s not just Mondays that are “manic”, anymore.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they get home and check the mail. Maybe they aren’t wondering why anyone sends paper mail anymore. Maybe they read your carefully drafted reminder or promotion. Maybe they think, “Oh yeah… I should probably call and schedule an appointment.”
What happens next? They walk inside, throw it on the counter, and intend to call the next day when the office is open. When the next day comes, though? They get busy, and forget.
“Busy” doesn’t necessarily mean they are slammed at work, or running around after five kids. It doesn’t even mean that they are doing important things. Often, they are “busy” reading Facebook, texting their friends or playing Cut the Rope.
Regardless - and here’s the kicker of this hurdle - whether they are caught up with important meetings or making plans for Friday night…
picking up the phone and calling the office is a task that gets pushed behind every other thing that we have to occupy our attention.
Postcards aren’t just expensive. They aren’t just time consuming. They aren’t just environmentally unfriendly.
They don’t work anymore.
Postcards are the way practices have done recare for decades, so… what’s next?
Stay tuned to our Improving Patient Recare series. We will keep evaluating the hurdles and pitfalls involved in forming a successful plan for recalling your patients for preventative, continued care, and follow up visits to your practice…and then we’ll distinguish the best ways to vault over them!
Guest content provided by healthcare industry writer, Sandra Mills.
Whether one works at the most menial of unskilled occupations or one requiring the highest levels of education, skill and experience, there’s almost certainly a professional organization to which they are entitled to membership. The origins of such groups are shrouded in history but many would note the elite organizations of scribes, teachers, healers and religious authorities that existed in almost all ancient cultures, or to the guilds of stone masons and other artisans chartered during the Middle Ages that form the basis for the modern Masonic societies. These early professional organizations were formed to guard the secrets of their craft from the uninitiated, thus protecting the authority of the leadership and providing job security, as a communal resource for members facing hardship, and also to ensure the quality of the work they produced.
The goals of the modern professional organization are essentially the same, minus for the most part the jealous guardianship of trade secrets, although that’s certainly not unheard of. First and foremost among the obligations of a group is regulation and oversight of professional standards in the public interest. This entails the consideration and documentation of accepted procedures and censure of members who fail to follow them. The secondary purpose of a professional organization is to provide a venue for members to fellowship with one another and to provide resources to enhance their practice and advance their careers. What are some of the benefits one can expect from joining a professional organization?
This is the second in a series of posts discussing what “patient engagement” is, why it is critical for the success of healthcare practices, and how it is most effectively achieved. View the introduction to the series, here.
So…what is “Patient Engagement”?
Let’s cut the complexity by breaking the words down instead of trying to define the term right off the bat.
Patient: In our context, it’s pretty safe to assume that it refers to the person seeking health care and not your tolerance levels.
Engagement: Dictionary definitions for “engagement” focus mostly on a plan to meet or marry, but it’s a safe bet that “patient engagement” doesn’t mean a doctor is planning to get hitched to a patient.
However, if we switch up our search and try to define “engaged” instead of “engagement”, the results give us more to work with.
“to occupy the attention or efforts”
“to attract and please”
“to make liable”
“Patient Engagement”: Considering the options, our “textbook” definitions look something like these:
1. Maintaining your patients’ attention. (to occupy the attention or efforts)
2. Keeping your patients happy. (to please)
3. To attract current, old and prospective patients to your practice. (to attract)
4. Establishing close relationships with patients. (to bind)
5. Encouraging patients to increase their level of accountability regarding their health and the health care they receive. (to make liable)
“Total Patient Engagement”: If these are the definitions for “patient engagement”, then “total patient engagement” must include all of them.
The definitions tell us what the term can mean, but they don’t explain what they mean for you. After all…who doesn’t want to keep their patients happy? Why the label? What’s with the Patient Engagement hype?
Never fear! We have the answers. Check back next time for part 2, The WHY(s) of Patient Engagement, where we’ll dissect the benefits for your practice (and your patients) that go along with each definition of patient engagement..
For over a decade, dental practices have known us as Smile Reminder. This month, that will change!
Solutionreach burst onto the scene in 2000 as Smile Reminder, becoming the first cloud-based service to provide electronic patient messaging.
It started as a solution for dentists. No-shows were infuriating and revenue draining, but phone call appointment reminders to patients wasted even more time. Smile Reminder solved this by introducing text and email based messaging to patients, automatically sent by connecting securely to the practice management software being used by the dental practice.
“Smile Reminders” redefined patient communication and office efficiency, but it didn’t stop there!
We have maintained our reputation as industry innovators by continuing to develop cutting edge technology that sets the standard for the way practices engage with their patients. Over a decade after introducing the world to electronic patient communication, our cloud-based service has advanced from appointment reminders into a full platform of solutions for healthcare providers to achieve Total Patient Engagement.
“Patient Engagement” It’s obviously a big deal, because the term is popping up everywhere in healthcare media. Patients must want it and providers clearly need it, but…what is it, exactly?
Here’s the problem: the way we are seeing “patient engagement” being referenced is so inconsistent that the definition (and the purpose!) is becoming more and more fuzzy. Even health professionals are left guessing; does it actually have a definition?
Here’s the answer: a simple explanation for “patient engagement” is so elusive because there are so many different ways to try and achieve it for so many different reasons.
So….. no. “Patient engagement” doesn’t have one definition. It has many.
Despite the complexity, it’s time to put an end to the confusion. That’s where we come in. At Solutionreach, we’re in the business of helping healthcare professionals achieve patient engagement in every form and for every purpose. We call it Total Patient Engagement. It encompasses every single definition. We live it, we breathe it. We know why you need each form of patient engagement, and what it takes to achieve them. We’re experts.
Our goal is to facilitate your success, so we are going to take some time to clear things up.
Welcome to The What, Why and How of Patient Engagement.
Click to view the first post in this multi-segment series:
Part #1: The “What” of Patient Engagement
One year ago, as the Jersey Shore was hit with Hurricane Sandy, so were businesses inland of the coast - and they were hit hard.
In the aftermath, families began the arduous task of rebuilding their lives and homes, but it didn’t eliminate the needs and concerns that we as humans experience on a daily basis outside of such tragedy.
Dental or physician appointments are among these consistent needs, but the lack of communication capability severely hindered the ability to receive the care they need for residents recovering from the storm. The phone lines in their doctors’ or dentists’ offices were out of commission, so patients had no idea whether or not their upcoming appointments would be held, and no way of reaching the office should a sudden health care need arise.
Solutionreach user, Dr. Michael Masella, experienced his own share of loss. His office, however, rebounded much more quickly than those of others in his area thanks to mass patient communication tools and the remote assistance of his dedicated client success representative from Solutionreach.
In fact, Dr. Masella credits Solutionreach for saving his practice: pretty big praise. Recently, Dr. Masella took some time to answer questions from Dentistry IQ about the storm and its affect on his practice.
Take a look at the article on Dentistry IQ, here, and watch Dr. Masella’s video testimonial below as he talks about how Solutionreach helped his practice recover quickly and his (and other dentists’) patients receive the care they needed.
Vision professionals, listen up! Today is the day we are announcing our partnership with Eyemaginations!
Our new relationship with the healthcare media company allows us to incorporate their world class educational videos into the Solutionreach platform for vision practices.
This is a big deal.
These aren’t your ordinary tools for patient education - they are beautifully animated, highly engaging videos that teach patients about complex topics using simple, visual illustration.
With the integration, videos will appear within the media tab of the Solutionreach dashboard for vision practices. The videos are then easily inserted into electronic correspondence sent out by the practice (in a fashion similar to inserting the pre-written educational articles that are provided in our newsletter library).
With the click of a button, videos can be sent to all of their patients, segmented groups of their patients, or individual patients to effectively educate (and engage) them with videos and information that is targeted to their unique situation or needs.
The integration is great news for both Solutionreach customers and Eyemaginations subscribers.
Solutionreach vision customers automatically receive a selection of free videos to use in their outreach efforts, with topics ranging from Glaucoma to the frequency of eye exams required for children.
Eyemaginations subscribers will have the whole library of videos imported into the Solutionreach dashboard. This allows them to be utilized in ways they couldn’t before, using more efficient and effective electronic correspondence methods. Because the Solutionreach platform provides easy ways to create groups of patients, sending targeted education to the right patients is simple, customizable and automatable.
Solutionreach customers in the eyecare industry can very simply subscribe to Eyemaginations from within their Solutionreach dashboard to have access to the full library of videos. Visit the Eyemaginations website to learn more about the amazing tools they offer for patient education at www.eyemaginations.com.
Your patients want to feel like they are considered individually, not as just another patient that disappears from the radar during the time between visits. Solutionreach helps you deliver the right message, to the right patient, at the right time, to make every patient the only patient.
By incorporating videos from Eyemaginations, achieving that goal just became even easier.
As a Solutionreach customer, you have unlimited access to every single one of the platform’s tools and services – which is saying a lot, because there are a lot of them. Not having to worry about hidden fees or extra charges for the things that actually make a difference for your practice means that you don’t have to worry about what you’re using, how much you’re using, and when you’re using it.
Though the unlimited access to all of the features is a big benefit of using Solutionreach, many customers are using a pitifully low number of them. Too often, they don’t take the time to learn about features beyond the ones that attracted them to SR in the first place.
This is a big deal, since we constantly add and enhance features that can dramatically affect your success with the platform and the benefits to your practice. If you aren’t using them, you are losing the opportunity to improve your patient relationships, you’re missing out on an even greater increase in your revenue, and you’re probably working harder than you need to.
Our goal at Solutionreach is to help you utilize the platform to its fullest. We encourage you to take the time to poke around your dashboard. If you see something you aren’t using, you should start! It doesn’t have to be difficult; our support representatives are SR Platform experts that want to assist you in reaching your goals, so if you need us to walk you through it or help you get something set up and running, call!
If you don’t want to poke around, never fear! The Solutionreach Blog will be posting frequent feature-specific content that will inform you of tools and services that you may not be using. We just posted one on Staff Messaging - are you using it?
As always, if you want personal training or more information, call your Client Success Representative. (Remember, you have unlimited, dedicated, live support. It’s included)
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