Both how and what you communicate are essential to your dental patient experience. In this instance, the “what” side of the equation is more about the message you’re sending your patients.
An online scheduling option sends a particular message. One that reminds patients that you understand how important convenience and control is to them.
Are you meeting patients where they are?
A memorable patient experience has many facets. Sure, comfort amenities make the list.
But what about patient communication solutions? For example, how common is it for your patients to experience phone tag?
They call and leave a voice message. Your staff returns the call only to leave another voice message.
Who has time for the “tag-you’re-it” approach to phone communication?
Of course, there’s email. Though more effective on the time spectrum, there’s the risk of a message being forwarded to junk mail or getting lost in your team’s inbox.
There has to be a more patient-facing, convenient, and relevant approach to patient communication — more specifically patient scheduling.
Is online dental patient scheduling the answer?
The digital communication era provides innovative patient service options. Software and dental dashboards are available that allow patients to:
- Schedule at their convenience
- Reschedule if they (or you) experience a conflict or need to change their appointment
- Cancel an appointment for whatever reason
Think of your dental practice website as a secondary — if not primary — storefront in this current online environment.
- Create a secure and protected online patient portal on your website that includes a scheduling option.
- Connect your social media channels and allow your patients to schedule securely on your page or profile.
- Convey to your patients that you understand their preferences and desire for control of their time and opportunity to schedule their care.
The benefits of online scheduling in your dental practice have the potential to expand. Launch with the fundamentals and add new features as your patients and your team embrace online scheduling.
How to pace the implementation of online scheduling in your dental practice
1 — Create a short list of procedures patients can schedule online
It might be a stretch to go all-in from the beginning and allow patients to schedule every appointment or procedure online. Complex procedures or those requiring multiple appointments could create more scheduling chaos than you’re prepared for initially.
Start simple. Provide an online scheduling option for:
- Simple procedures such as a crown seat, an ortho-check, denture adjustment, etc.
- Routine examinations and teeth cleanings
- Teeth whitening and sealants
- Treatment follow-up
2 — Provide a visible call to action on your website
Showcase your online patient portal —including an option to schedule online. Use compelling words such as “Schedule your next appointment here,” or “Schedule Online Now” provide patients an option other than making a phone call.
- Use content to promote, build momentum, and answer questions about your online scheduling solution.
- Promote the benefits of scheduling online. Highlight convenience, time-savings, ease of use, reduced voice messages and phone no more phone tag.
3 — Clarify your cancellation process
Appointment cancellations happen. Even so, you’ll want to have a clearly defined process for managing them to help reduce their frequency.
- Include policy details when patients schedule their appointment online.
- Use automated appointment reminders and inform them about the importance of their upcoming appointment along with cancellation info.
- Give them options to reschedule if they have a (non-repetitive) last-minute cancellation.
4 — Set availability boundaries for online scheduling
This is helpful for keeping control of your schedule. Set limits on available blocks patients can request online.
- Avoid surprises and having to move patients around.
- Maintain scheduling consistency and create urgency for patients to schedule.
5 — Expand your online scheduling portals
Start with your dental practice website. Once patients are accustomed to the process you can expand to other online platforms.
Add a secure online scheduling portal on your social media pages and channels and your Google My Business profile. This allows patients to schedule when it’s front-of-mind and without them having to leave your social media page, etc.
6 — Equip your team to adapt and benefit from online scheduling
Position your online scheduling solution as an opportunity to assist your team efficiency. Research and involve them in the hands-on process of learning the technology before going public with patients.
- Allow your team to share their pros and cons about adding online scheduling to your patient options.
- Implement your online portal in phases. This gives your team the time to adapt and innovate around the solution.
- Share UX (user experience) stories in your morning huddles and team meetings. Talk up improvements and tweaks that can help refine your online scheduling option.
There’s more than one way to schedule. An online scheduling option positions your dental practice as relevant and in-tune with how your patients value convenience.
Check out the following online scheduling solution available from Jarvis Analytics and the related dental patient scheduling resources:
Rely on proven data tools that can also help you be more strategic with your dental patient scheduling
The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking patient behavior and staying on track with your dental practice scheduling system.
The Jarvis platform:
- Integrates seamlessly with your chosen practice management software/platform
- Presents the metrics you want and need in an easy-to-view dental dashboard that reduces data complexity for growing dental practices, dental groups, and DSOs
Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!
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