patient communication


Important Tech Tools for Dentists and Patients

by Naomi Cooper January 21, 2015

Important Tech Tools for Dentists and PatientsToday there are countless opportunities for dentists to connect with patients, both new and existing, thanks in large part to advancements in technology. It is no longer necessary for dentists to limit patient communication to just the 1-2 times a year the patient comes into the practice.

Many tools are now available to dentists to facilitate ongoing patient engagement, including:

  • Patient communication systems
  • Post-appointment surveys
  • Website design
  • Social media

Engaging with patients year-round is easier than ever. For more information, check out my recent article published in Inside Dentistry detailing the 4 top tech tools for dentists looking to boost patient engagement.


Dental Practice Marketing Audit for 2015

by Naomi Cooper December 23, 2014

Dental Practice Marketing Audit Dental practice marketing – it’s a term that encompasses a wide array of activities designed to bring new patients into the practice in hopes of achieving long-term steady practice growth.

It can be overwhelming for dentists with a resolution to implement a marketing plan in 2015, or even for those who have been marketing but are looking to tune up their existing strategy. Here are 5 areas to focus on when building an overall dental marketing plan:

  1. Branding: A dentist’s branding strategy is essentially communicating the reputation of the practice to the community. Make sure your message is on point and sending the message you want it to.
  2. Website: How long ago was the practice website updated? Does it accommodate mobile devices via responsive design? If it was designed even 2-3 years ago, it could be time for a refresh.
  3. Social Media: Do you have active profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter? If so, be sure they contain current practice information and are updated with relevant content on a consistent basis. If you have been hesitating on joining the social media community, consider putting it at the top of your list of 2015 dental practice marketing goals.
  4. Patient Reviews: Sites like Yelp, Google and Healthgrades are all extremely popular with Internet users, particularly those looking for a dentist online. Make sure profiles are updated with current contact and practice information, and be sure there is a sufficient number positive patient reviews for prospective patients to see.
  5. Patient Communication: All external marketing activities rely on internal processes and communication. E-communication tactics utilize email and text messaging for routine patient communication. The entire dental team should also be well versed in asking for patient referrals and online reviews. This may not come naturally to everyone, so verbal skills training is a must.

There are countless other tactics that fall under the dental marketing umbrella, but for those looking to get started, these are five of the most important areas for consideration. And for those dentists who are looking to step up their existing marketing game, making sure these five components of the marketing plan are solid will help take their marketing to the next level in 2015.


5 Ways Technology Simplifies Dental Patient Engagement

by Naomi Cooper November 12, 2014

5 Ways Technology Simplifies Dental Patient EngagementThere are countless opportunities for dentists to not only reach out to existing and prospective patients, but to connect with them on an ongoing basis. In fact, patient engagement is the name of the dental marketing game today. Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever for dentists to communicate with not only their existing patient bases, but also with new patients on a year-round basis.

Many tools exist to help dentists engage with patients, but it can often be overwhelming to decide where to begin. Here are five of the top technological tools designed specifically to help improve dental patient engagement.

  1. Patient Communication Systems: E-communication (short for electronic communication) involves the use of email and text messages for routine patient communication. With e-communication systems, patient outreach, including appointment reminders, holiday greetings, birthday cards, and e-newsletters, can all be automated, saving the staff time and the dentist money.
  2. Post-Appointment Surveys: Most e-communication packages will also automatically send post-appointment surveys to patients. The dentist doesn’t have to rely on a staff member to remember to send the survey, and since it’s sent via email, it makes it much easier on the patient to complete – and more likely the patient will do so.
  3. Online Patient Reviews: Taking the surveys a step further, patient responses provide a wealth of information, and any positive feedback can be used for patient testimonials. Some e-communication systems available today automatically publish positive patient testimonials. This means testimonials will be seen by actual patients in the community who are researching local dentists.
  4. Modern Website Design: One update that has quickly become a “must-have” in a dental practice website is the incorporation of Responsive Design functionality. Instead of having a separate mobile website, Responsive Design ensures that a website will look, load, and function appropriately on any device. Remember – patients and prospective patients are not always sitting in front of a desktop computer, so it is more important than ever to have a website that reconfigures itself automatically for all types of devices.
  5. Social Media: It’s not just a passing trend. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube are invaluable in terms of ongoing patient engagement. Tweeting a photo, or posting a video to the dental practice Facebook page helps dentists stay in contact with patients year-round, while giving a meaningful first impression to any potential patients looking for a new dentist online.

For more insight into the best technological tools for dentists, check out my recent article in Inside Dentistry.


6 Ways to Improve Your Internal Marketing 

by Naomi Cooper October 7, 2014

6 Ways to Improve Your Internal Marketing When dentists hear the word marketing, they often think of external marketing and promoting their dental practices to the public. When it comes to increasing new patient flow, sometimes you don’t have to look any further than your existing patient base.

Internal marketing focuses on building long-term relationships and instilling trust and loyalty in patients. This is accomplished through strong communication skills, starting with the front desk, the hygiene and dental teams, and even ongoing communication after the patient leaves.

I recently wrote an article on this very subject for Dental Products Report6 Simple Steps to Elevate Your Internal Marketing. With the right internal marketing processes in place, your best patients can also be your best advertising.


Personalizing Your E-Communication Strategies

by Naomi Cooper June 23, 2014

Personalizing Your E-Communication StrategiesI often hear from my dentist clients that they worry that they are losing “the personal touch” when automating their patient communication with e-communication tools like email and text message appointment reminders. Good customer service certainly requires personalization, but the reality is that technology can actually improve your patient communication.

Patient reminder systems like Sesame 24-7, DemandForce and Patient Activator save the practice time and energy by syncing with practice management software to automatically confirm appointments via email and text messaging. Many services can also help with other internal marketing tasks such as sending birthday cards, creating newsletters, promoting special offers, reaching out to dormant patients, or soliciting feedback and reviews. Using services like this can help reduce no-shows, shorten average recall times, build patient loyalty and even help boost case acceptance – and production.

Successful e-communication comes down to implementation. Maintain a personal touch by calling patients the first time you send the email appointment reminder to confirm they received the email and even offer to walk them through the confirmation process if needed. They’ll appreciate the convenience of email communication & the personal phone call shows you care enough to help them walk through the new process.

Also, be sure to give patients the ability to opt out of electronic communication. Some patients will never grow out of wanting a postcard reminder, but don’t assume that someone’s age necessarily determines their technology-savvy. The fastest growing group of Internet users today are 55 and older!

If you are still worried about losing that personal connection with patients, consider the time and expense involved every time you make ten appointment confirmation calls, mail out a batch of recall cards or create a newsletter. Using technology to automate these processes frees up the front desk to take part in truly personal communications like sending handwritten thank you notes to patients who refer, interacting with patients on social media and spending more time with patients and prospective patients both on the phone and face to face.

Patients not only want their dentist to be a “good dentist,” but also to be someone who truly cares. Utilizing e-communication tools makes consistent patient communication – with a personal touch – easier than ever before.


Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone Call

by Naomi Cooper May 21, 2014

Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone CallOften when consulting with my dentist clients, the focus is on attracting new patients, which of course is an important part of dental practice growth. But I caution my clients before they ever spend any money on external marketing efforts, they need to be absolutely sure they and their staff already have solid internal processes in place.

Simply put, the dollars spent to attract new patients through external marketing efforts can end up going to waste if effective marketing processes and strong verbal communication skills are not in place. After all, why go to all the trouble and expense to make the phone ring if the person answering the phone doesn’t have the ability to turn a caller into a patient?

Often a new patient’s first contact with the dentist and the practice is during the initial phone call to find out about the practice, and possibly to make an appointment. The front desk team needs to be able to effectively communicate with new patients and address all questions and concerns, as well as schedule appointments in a timely manner.

The first phone call is a critical time: the prospective patient is sizing the practice up, and this interaction needs to be handled delicately. So what can the front desk team do during the call to ensure success?

Find out in my most recent article published in Inside Dentistry: Growing the Dental Practice Through Patient Communication.