Disruptions pose a threat to businesses every day. Whether it’s a global pandemic, innovation from competitors, or downright bad luck, businesses are constantly being pushed to evolve.
This is true for dental practices, too. The old way of booking appointments — over the phone or in person after an appointment — is fading. The new era of dentistry demands convenient online solutions that empower patients to book appointments and communicate with practices on their own terms.
Take, for example, ACE Dental of Texas, which has nine locations across central Texas. When they started using NexHealth, a digital patient experience platform, they thrived. ACE Dental saw an increase in patient volume, was able to open a new practice, and remained steady during COVID-19 after they started offering online appointment booking, sent appointment reminders via text and email, and opened a waitlist for newly available appointments.
Want the same for your practice? Here’s how you can do it.
Make your practice available on multiple platforms
ACE Dental used Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook to offer information about the practice and link directly to appointment scheduling through NexHealth. As a result, they saw increased exposure for their practice and more opportunities to convert page visitors to appointments scheduled. Using these platforms, ACE Dental increased from an online customer rating of 4.4 to 4.7 stars.
Google offers editable listings that pop to the top of the search results when patients type your business’ name into the search bar. It shows up in a prime location on the search engine, giving your business a clear and authoritative listing. It also provides easy access to buttons that link to your website, phone number, and address.
Yelp’s business listings are different from Google’s. People turn to Yelp as a community-based source, looking for reviews posted by their neighbors, and it focuses more on small businesses. The site has posted 224 million reviews since its start.
While the listing for Yelp looks similar to Google’s, people come to Yelp with a different purpose in mind (link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/ace-dental-waco-waco).
You may think of Facebook as just a place to connect with family and friends. But as the largest and arguably most recognizable social platform, it’s an effective place to showcase your business because of the number of people who visit the site on a daily basis. Facebook’s business pages feature a button that allows patients to book directly with the clinic and also direct message with the practice.
“With 2.7 billion monthly users, no other social network can offer your business a matching level of potential exposure,” according to the article “Unexpected Ways Facebook Is Good for You.”While the listing for Yelp looks similar to Google’s, people come to Yelp with a different purpose in mind (link: https://www.yelp.com/biz/ace-dental-waco-waco).
Facebook’s large daily user base is a great reason to market your business there (link: https://m.facebook.com/acedental.waco/).
Send patients automated messages to confirm appointments
Multiplatform reminders are an added fail-safe to prevent forgotten appointments and allow patients to cancel in advance if needed. ACE Dental said patients told them how much they appreciated the convenience texts provided.
Texts and emails are highly effective ways to reach patients. In a review of 162 studies on text message reminders for patient appointments, the analysis “found that nearly all the SMS-reminder studies helped improve patient medical compliance and appointment reminders.” The additional benefits of texts, according to the study, are they’re easy to send, relatively inexpensive, and delivered quickly and instantly.
No-shows can cost individual providers $200 per unused time slot on average. This amounts to $150 billion per year for the U.S. healthcare system as a whole, according to Forbes. Missed appointments can also lead to further scheduling difficulties for the patient and practice, as routine dental appointments can book up months in advance.
Use a waitlist to fill open appointments
Waitlists can bring more patients into the practice and help eliminate empty appointment slots. ACE Dental has seen a 110% increase in new patients month over month using waitlists, in addition to their other outreach efforts.
Waitlists are a great tool in an increasingly flexible world. They allow patients to come into the clinic when free time opens up or when it’s most convenient for them. Increasingly, people are prioritizing themselves and their home life, according to a report on 2021 consumer trends from Euromonitor International. Half of those surveyed for the report chose “time for myself” as one of their top three priorities in 2020. “People are now both able and forced to be more creative with their time in order to get everything done,” according to the report.
The popularity of remote and flexible work schedules has grown, but not all employees get their schedule well in advance. While 55 percent of workers knew their schedule at least one month in advance, almost 20 percent learn of their schedule a week in advance, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is useful for patients to be able to commit to going to an appointment by joining a waitlist without having to select a set date and time.
Using NexHealth’s features can help you get more conversions
Implementing strategies like opening a waitlist, sending text reminders, and featuring your practice on multiple platforms provides your patients with more ways to engage with your practice and can lead to more appointments booked. It also takes the strain off your office staff to book appointments exclusively over the phone. With NexHealth’s features, you can create a practice that offers a seamless booking experience for your patients and practitioners.