As I talk to thousands of dentists every year through my Hottest Topics in Dentistry lectures, they always want to know about the latest dental technology. They will ask my opinion with questions like “what is the best dental all-tissue laser?” My response is the Waterlase iPlus. “What are the best CAD/CAM systems for my office?” I always tell them to look at a Cerec or an E4D. “How about the best curing light, composite, zirconium crown, or digital impressioning system?” Dentists want to know about the latest gadgets and technology because they love knowing what is state-of-the-art and how to get it into their practices.
Let’s take a step back. Why aren’t dentists having the same discussion when it comes to their practice management systems and how they engage patients? I go through this little exercise in my lectures, so let’s do it now and you can honestly answer these questions for yourselves. How many of you reading this article have cell phones?
All of you. How many of you reading this article in the last two hours has either received or sent a text or an email? All of you. How many of you in the last 24 hours have paid for something online? I would bet it would be 95% of the people reading this article. We are all living our lives online. How many of you use email and text as your preferred method of communication in your life? That would be a vast majority of you as well.
What is the lesson that we learn from all of this? You are just like your patients. Dental offices that use outdated methods of communication with patients on a regular basis do not get their attention anymore. How many of you are still making phone calls to confirm appointments for dentistry when it can be done much easier, quicker, cheaper, and will get noticed by more patients if you use email or text messaging? How many of you are still sending out reminder cards to patients when you can engage them much faster, better and easier with email and text messaging, allowing them to confirm their appointments instantly? Does your office have an online payment portal where you can collect a down payment for a big case or whatever is left over from their insurance portion easily and conveniently?
In other words, it is time to start running your practice the way you and all of your patients run their lives. It’s for this reason that most of our staff at The American Academy of Facial Esthetics use Smile Reminder as our patient engagement system. There are many other excellent patient engagement systems on the market for dentistry, but Smile Reminder has some unique features that very few, or none of the other systems have. One is the online payment portal which is vital for your dental practice. They can provide templates and work with you through your practice management system to send email, text, and yes, even natural voice appointment confirmations which will totally free up your front office team to do much more important tasks such as dealing with the patients that are right in front of them.
One of the most unique and exclusive features of Smile Reminder is the ability to let you access a patient’s open credit line that they have with Care Credit. You all know Care Credit, as it is the largest and most stable patient financing company in dentistry. Millions of patients have accounts with Care Credit, which they may have gotten from a myriad of offices as they cover much more than dentistry. Here is how it works - Smile Reminder sees Mr. John Smith on Cedar Road in your database and automatically sees that they have a Care Credit account. You know that John Smith has access to Care Credit funds before you even go in to speak to him about the endo, post, and crown that he needs. For this exclusive feature and all of the other features combined, Smile Reminder is generations ahead of any other patient engagement system out there.
It’s time to start engaging your patients just like every other business out there engages you as a client and customer. If you don’t start engaging your patients, believe me when I say that another dental office will be more than happy to do so. If you do not stay at the top of your patient’s minds as their dental provider, they will see or hear something and all of a sudden end up in someone else’s office - and you will find out by getting a request for their records. Your practice will run much more efficiently, and your front office will be freed up to really engage patients when they are right in front of you.
Louis Malcmacher DDS MAGD is a practicing general dentist and an internationally known lecturer, author, and dental consultant. An evaluator emeritus for Clinicians Reports, Dr. Malcmacher is president of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.