Practice technology calls for an evolution, not a revolution

2017 11 02 23 46 6214 Miranda Kim 20171102231938

You've heard sales reps and manufacturers tell you for years that you should invest in technology that will change your practice. But this investment likely also includes money and time. What if there were a way to spend 10 minutes to make a positive impact on your practice's bottom line and improve your patient retention?

The impact can come from two steps: leveraging provider directories and using online appointment scheduling via technology that does not drastically change your current processes and procedures.

Leverage provider directories

Does your practice participate in insurance networks from carriers such as Aetna, Cigna, and Delta Dental? You are probably aware that these organizations invest millions of dollars each year communicating to more than 60 million members in the U.S. that they should use in-network dentists.

Kim Miranda is the director of marketing at Brighter.Kim Miranda is the director of marketing at Brighter.

Why does this matter to you and your practice? Because research shows that consumers want to use in-network providers. Deloitte's 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey notes that consumers ranked "having all doctors and medications in-network and covered" as the second most important healthcare interaction among 64 interactions explored, just behind "healthcare providers who spend time with me and do not rush."

Each of these carriers offer provider directories or Find a Dentist tools online where your profile is already listed and being viewed by potential patients.

So take a few minutes to review your profile on the appropriate provider directories. Many of our clients have found their contact information was incorrect or that their profile did not feature all services and amenities that set their practice apart.

Another issue we have seen with our clients is the lack of a professional photo in these profiles. Patients want to see you. In our work with a major insurance carrier, we saw that 86% of patients prefer providers with photos on their profile. It's an easy way to make a great first impression with potential new patients.

Online appointment scheduling

The ability to schedule appointments online is available for everything from booking a haircut to trading stocks. In fact, online appointment scheduling with in-network providers was ranked fourth in the survey What Consumers Most Want from Health Insurers' Technology, following only out-of-pocket cost estimators, simple access to health records, and mobile follow-up notifications. This survey was conducted by consulting firm Strategy&.

“Take a few minutes to review your profile on the appropriate provider directories.”

We're not saying you need to develop an app your patients can download, but if you haven't implemented online scheduling at your practice yet, it's time. As one of our dental practice clients in Indiana noted, patients are busy.

"They may not think about their dental needs until nights and weekends," she said. "Online scheduling keeps us open to patients whenever they're ready to schedule an appointment."

A lot of scheduling platforms are out there. How do you know which is right for you?

We tell our clients to look for three things:

  • A scheduling platform that connects with those provider directories (see above)
  • A scheduling platform that offers you the flexibility to accept and modify requests before writing them into your practice management system calendar
  • A platform that is HIPAA-compliant and offers email and SMS as options to receive appointment requests

These are two of the easiest and least-expensive ways you can use technology as an evolution, not a revolution, in your practice to help you connect with more patients and fill more of your empty chair time.

Kim Miranda is the director of marketing at Brighter, a technology company serving the dental and healthcare industries.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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