Getting the Max from your Digital Communication Software

There are a number of automated digital communication applications on the market now–Demand Force, RevenueWell, and our own product, PatientActivator–and these are excellent timesavers for your practice.  If you don’t know about them, they essentially work with your existing practice management software to send patient reminders by text and email (and also by automated phone calls, with ours).  They cost between $200-300 per month, and pay for themselves easily by time saved and by tightening recall.

But what I’ve noticed is that many practices who use these applications are only using them for the basic function of appointment reminders, while a much higher value can be achieved when you use their other features.  If you are currently using one of these programs, here are the tools you should be using:

Dormant Patient Reactivation

All of these programs have an automated function that allows you to send a specific message to patients who have fallen behind on their recall. You can craft the message yourself, but it basically is, “Hi Susan, it’s been over a year since you’ve been in the office. We miss you! Give us a call and we can get you in the schedule right away.” The software itself will look at which patients need this message that day, and so you’ll have on average four or five of them going out.  Patient Activator will also do this with an automated phone message.  Many people are surprised that a year has gone by, and will call that day.

Email Marketing Programs

You can send what we call “email blasts” to your patients.  These are marketing messages like Valentine’s Day whitening specials, or Invisalign discounts, or free implant exams.  Or whatever you want.  We have a number of them pre-designed, but you can always craft your own.  You can do as many of these as you want, and they is no extra charge to do them.

Newsletters

You can also send patients digital newsletters with oral health tips, practice services and any specials you want to offer.  These programs all have hundreds of pre-written articles to choose from, so you can assemble a year’s worth of newsletters in a matter of minutes. I recommend sending them quarterly, but you can send them as often as you like.  Once you set it up, it happens automatically.

It’s important to know that patients can opt out of any of the individual elements of these programs.  They can say they don’t want the newsletters, or only want text reminders, not email, etc.  So you can tailor each patient’s communication mode to their preference.

Surveys and Reviews

After each visit, patients receive a survey asking them about their experience at the practice.  You can modify the questions or just use the basic ones already set up.  Patients can also write a review of the practice, and this will go up into a microsite specially created for your practice.  This gets you SEO.  Beyond that, if you have a dynamic website, you can have these reviews appear automatically, so that you have ever-changing fresh content on your website.  And more and more consumers are looking for authentic reviews about businesses before they use them, so this is a powerful tool.  Our website product, WebDirector, can import these reviews automatically.  And you can always de-select a review if you don’t want it to post.

 

These are all powerful marketing tools.  Obviously the more email addresses you have on your patients the better, so gathering those should become standard practice in your office.  If you don’t use one of these program yet, pick one. Mine is the best, of course, but they’re all good products. 😉 Don’t do nothing–you’re missing too much utility and marketing power here. Use one of these, and use it to the max.

 

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6 thoughts on “Getting the Max from your Digital Communication Software

  1. Smile Reminder (now Solutionreach) is also one to consider. In addition to email and text they also include automatic phone call reminders and recall notifications.

  2. In a Google search for patient cancellation protocols, I have seen several policies that assess a fee if prior notice is not communicated by the patient. Fees range from $25 to $45. What is a best practice?

    • There was a great thread about this on Dentaltown recently, and the general conclusion is that a no-show fee is for the most part uncollectible, and just generates bad will. Does the $45 make up for the hour they destroyed in your schedule? $150 doesn’t even do it. There are two alternative strategies: the first is to let the patient know that after the second time that they no-show, that you will only appoint them on an ASAP basis, when you have an opening the next day, or you will double book them and they should expect to wait. The second is to have them pre-pay for the visit by credit card, and you will only hold the appointment that way. Some practices have completely moved to pre-paid appointments, offering a 10% discount for pre-payment. It works, and it retrains your patients to respect the schedule.

  3. Fred-Good advice for those practices who may be at risk for turning off long-time patients. A sudden change in policy may be perceived as a new, almost desperate attempt to overcome what might be inefficient methods of retaining patients to scheduled appointments.I will check out the D’town info.

I welcome your comments--don't pull any punches!