IN THIS MOBILE AGE, PEOPLE ARE USING THEIR MOBILE DEVICES as their main sources of communication with businesses through live chat, social media, and text. Fifty-two percent of mobile users look for health-related information on their phones. Health and fitness apps are one of the fastest growing app categories with a 52% increase between 2014 and 2015. Dentists can make use of this mobile trend to enhance patient care and communication.
It’s important for dentists to integrate mobile into their customer outreach efforts. Using mobile devices can not only increase the number of patients an office treats, it can improve patient care, reduce no-shows, and enhance post-treatment follow-up services.
Here are some tips on how mobile can improve your dental practice’s relationship with patients:
Bring in more patients
We are living in the age of instant gratification. If a patient calls your office and gets a busy signal and is unable to reach you via any other means, you can say goodbye to that patient. He or she will likely go on to the next dental office and book an appointment there.
You can avoid sending patients to your competition by incorporating text, live chat, and social media as communication platforms. Adding live chat can help enhance your conversion rates. If your website’s sales bot gets a lead, it can activate live chat, making it easy for patients to ask questions or schedule appointments.
Make sure your website is mobile-optimized
Mobile optimization is essential. When desktop was king, many businesses invested in high quality images and graphics. But mobile is a different game. Mobile users are often on the go and don’t have time to wait for heavy images, no matter how pretty they are, to load.
Fifty-three percent of mobile site visits are abandoned if the page takes longer than three seconds to load. More and more, Google is ranking websites according to UX (user experience), so if your mobile site provides a poor user experience, you can expect your Google ranking to drop. That’s bad news for you and great news for your mobile-optimized competitors.
Make sure your website is fast-loading on mobile with an easy-to-read landing page and intuitive interaction for mobile users. Remember that mobile users are on the go, so they won’t want to be tapping out information on lengthy forms. If your desktop website has a long form, shorten it for the mobile site to make it more user-friendly.
Use text for appointment reminders
If your staff are still calling patients and leaving voice messages with appointment reminders, pay attention. The average voicemail response rate is a dismal 4.8%. Many people don’t even bother checking their voicemail these days, but they read text messages.
Let’s take a look at the real example: The Canyon Creek Dental team wanted to reduce dental office no-shows and decided to adopt text as a solution. Owner Mary Higgins says texting works. “Patients like being reminded by text,” she said. “It is unobtrusive and we can text several times a day and they don’t feel like we’re nagging them. They can confirm or cancel easily. Our patients are showing up for their appointments. They will forget a morning phone call, but a text stays with them.”
Texting is a time-saver too. Instead of calling patients one by one, a bulk text with personalized reminders can be sent out with one click.
Adopt an app
Apps can enhance efficiency, from scheduling appointments to follow-up to mobile payments. The best part is that apps collect all the essential information in one place. You can easily reference patient history through an app, and patients can use it to refer friends or family members to your practice.
Here are a few more things that are helpful about apps:
• Apps make it easy for patients to schedule an appointment, freeing up your staff from having to answer phone calls and manage a schedule.
• It’s possible to allow patients to pay through the app, making it easy to track accounting and send automated reminders to patients about upcoming payments due.
• Patients can fill out forms through the app and practitioners can text them relevant post-care information.
• Offices can advertise specials, such as discounts on teeth cleaning, with push notifications.
Enhance patient care
Mobile can help enhance follow-up treatment. The exchange of photos and videos via mobile improves patient care—it reduces the need for patients to come back to the office to collect results. Patients can have access to their records via their phone and read messages sent from the dentist at their leisure.
Patients can also ask questions they may not have thought about when they were in the office, and dental staff can reply as they’re available. Mobile makes practitioners more accessible to patients and allows for more thorough care and communication.
A word about HIPPA and HITECH
While there’s no doubt that mobile is the future of health and dental care, all of these rapid technological advances have left practitioners without a clear picture of how to provide care without jeopardizing patient privacy. In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was introduced, putting the onus on dental practitioners to develop systems of storing patient data that protects patients.
In 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) was introduced to enforce compliance among practitioners. There are some steps that can help protect you and your practice.
For example, consider hiring an information protection service as common storage. Sharing applications such as Dropbox and GoogleDrive are not secure and not approved by HIPPAA. Also, make sure your passcodes are between seven and 10 digits and accessible only to authorized staff.
From increasing conversions, reducing no-shows, enhancing patient care, and executing patient communication from the convenience of an app, mobile offers many of benefits to dental practitioners and patients. Adopt it today and you’ll be happy in the future!