Dental patients today are increasingly accustomed to being online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The internet allows patients to be instantly connected to anything they need conveniently at their fingertips.
Making it easy for patients to schedule an appointment, complete forms, chat and even pay bills online is the new normal. How does your practice cater to this on-demand patient attitude? In order to convert new patients, retain current patients and increase your practice revenue, you must modernize the patient experience by including these important digital elements.
Patients want the ability to communicate and take actions when it’s easiest for them, whether they are online at 8 a.m. or 11 p.m. At Whiteboard Marketing, we’ve noticed our clients who provide that experience on their websites see an increase in new patient appointments, bills paid and patient forms submitted prior to a visit.
The five most important features to add to every practice website include online scheduling, submittable patient forms, live website chat, dental membership plans and online bill pay. Here’s how these website tools help you attract, acquire and retain the patients you want–and lead to financial success for your practice.
Tool #1: Online Scheduling
Giving current and prospective patients the opportunity to schedule a hygiene visit at their convenience is a guaranteed conversion opportunity. This is because it gives patients freedom in their schedule and allows them to plan around their needs.
Many patient management systems provide fully integrated online scheduling that writes directly to a patient chart after the front desk staff accepts it. For example, in the case of the image below, this practice’s online scheduling is powered by SolutionReach. Not only does online scheduling help patients schedule on their time, this feature simplifies work for the front desk team by eliminating time spent on the phone.
For those patients who schedule online, our Whiteboard Marketing team does recommend that the office sends a follow-up email with the appointment date and time and a link to required patient forms. A follow-up email or a phone call will help reduce cancellations or no-shows, so it’s important that practices have a set follow-up process in place.
Tool #2: Online Patient Forms
As patients rely on the internet for their communication, fillable online forms allow patients to complete and submit health information prior to their appointments. This modern feature is convenient for both the patient and the front desk team.
Many practice management systems directly write to the patient’s chart so the front desk team doesn’t have to manually enter the information. Additionally, this feature saves patients time as it allows them to fill out important and necessary forms prior to their first appointment with you.
Tool #3: Live Website Chat
Every practice receives phone calls before, during and after the workday. Ensuring that patients can communicate with the office when they want to communicate is key to generating new appointments. Even when your office is closed, patients want to get answers to their questions. Dentists who add live website chat are providing patients one more opportunity to choose their practice.
There is a difference between live chat and chatbots. Chatbots are not live but can provide automated answers to patients’ questions if dentists provide the answers in the system. Live chat is operated 24 hours a day with real people responding.
Consumers today are conditioned to expect an immediate response. That’s why our team recommends a live chat feature with people on the other end of the chat line who can communicate in real-time.
Tool #4: Dental Membership Plan
Making dental care affordable for patients who don’t have insurance helps to increase new patient acquisition and treatment acceptance rates. Whether a practice created its own dental membership plan or utilizes an organized platform, these plans help patients pay for their treatment.
Patient membership plans are especially successful for practices that are trying to get out of insurance networks and move towards fee-for-service.
Tool #5: Online Bill Pay
Practices that make it easier for patients to pay their bills see an increase in collections. While the best time to collect payment is at the time of service or check-out, the reality is not so clear-cut. Providing patients with the opportunity to pay with the click of a button is easy, fast and the new normal of today’s consumer behavior.
Setting up online bill pay is relatively easy and can be done by contacting the practice’s merchant services provider. Once the payment link is set up, the dentist will need to send that link to their marketing partner or website manager to add the link to the practice website.
Marketing Your Modernized Website to Patients
As dentists work to modernize the patient experience with these website features, it is important to remember to market these unique attributes on social media, ads and email. For example, dentists can send an email to recall patients to schedule online at their convenience, advertise on Facebook that the practice offers online scheduling, or send an email to overdue patients to pay their bill online by clicking “here.”
Need Help Modernizing Your Website to Increase Practice Revenue and Attract New Patients?
Ultimately, adding features like online scheduling and online patient forms to a website will help dentists provide an experience that prospective and current patients expect while generating new patients and increased revenue.
Need help modernizing your website for patients? We’re here to help. Contact us today to get started.
NOTE: A version of this blog post initially appeared as an article titled “A Modernized Patient Experience Increases Practice Revenue” in the July/August 2021 issue of Today’s FDA, the official magazine of the Florida Dental Association.