Archive for the ‘New Patients’ Category

A Smart Start to Practice Growth

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Guest post by Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner of XLDent

As the owner of a practice starting out or a stagnant one trying to grow, you are faced with figuring out what impacts practice growth the most. When properly planned, three areas can help to maximize growth from day one.

  1. Systems

You’re likely not thinking about efficiency or productivity during your first days or weeks in business. With a handful of patients each day, you’re not faced with bottlenecks, communication gaps, or duplication of processes. Alas, you soon will be. Systems minimize gaps or overlaps in your daily processes. They are needed for productive workflows and profitability.

Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) early on. Doing so sets the stage for staff expectations, accountability measures, and helps you measure areas of success or needs for improvement. Early on, you are likely running your practice without a full team. You have an assistant also taking on the front desk role, because you’re simply not busy enough yet to hire a full-time admin team member. As you bring on new staff, a written set of SOPs will ensure each team member is prepared and knows their responsibilities. Systems should be created knowing they will evolve as your practice grows and staff roles change. XLDent provides each practice, whether just starting out or transitioning from another PMS, a core set of SOPs to start with. They are a fantastic starting point for those new to establishing systems, and are customized by each practice as needed.

  1. XLDent blog photo Mockup-12-19-16Reviews and Referrals

I doubt there’s a practice starting out today that doesn’t have an online presence from day one. From the day you open your doors, focus on creating a process for reviews and referrals. Nothing attracts new patients more than a healthy online rating and patients who aren’t afraid to tell others about their great experience. After a visit, ask your patient if they were happy with their experience and funnel them right over to do that 5-star review. Lighthouse 360 helps you automate this. Emails. are automatically sent post-visit, and good reviews are posted right to your website and social media pages.

  1.  Patient Experience

It’s no surprise that convenience and consumer experience are priorities when a new patient chooses a dentist. They are especially significant in gaining one who is loyal. Don’t discount the importance of electronic reminders, online access, and paperless forms, to a patient. A busy mom doesn’t want to be faced with a stack of forms to complete that you’re going to scan and shred anyway. Consider a system that embraces all aspects of a streamlined paperless system, so you’re not left with the task of finding disconnected solutions that leave you with clumsy systems.

To connect with someone from XLDent, call 800-328-2925 or email xldentinfo@xldent.com

DawnDawn Christodoulou is the President/Owner of XLDent. She has more than 25 years of experience computerizing dental offices and helping both new and established practices streamline electronic workflows for increased efficiency, improve patient engagement, and achieve maximum profitability. Dawn is also a member of ADA SCDI Working Groups 11.1 Standard Clinical Architecture and 11.9 Core Reference Data Set.

 

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer…what does this mean? Let’s take a closer look at oral cancer to see how sex and drugs play a role in the development. The risk factors for oral cancer are not only the traditional risk factors of tobacco, alcohol, and age, but now there is an increasing prevalence being caused from a sexually transmitted virus, HPV 16. With the new risk factor of HPV, oral cancer is not only affecting older patients, but now younger patients without the traditional risk factors. This means that everyone who walks into your office potentially has a significant risk factor. Just as with other cancers, early diagnosis of oral cancer provides a markedly improved prognosis for the patient. Knowing that early discovery for cancer saves lives, our goal should be to screen every patient. With the changing trends, it is important to have a tool in your arsenal for early discovery. OralID™ is the perfect solution and is being used in some of the top clinics and cancer centers across the nation.

OralID™ is an FDA Cleared medical device for oral cancer (and pre-cancer) screening. Without the need for any rinses, dyes or other consumables, OralID™ uses fluorescence technology that when shined in the mouth causes healthy tissue to fluoresce an apple-green color and suspicious tissue appears dark. If a dark lesion is found, the recommended protocol for screening is to have the patient back in two weeks to reassess the lesion. Normally these lesions will have healed in the follow-up period. If the lesion is still present, then performing an advanced cytology swab (CytID™) or a biopsy (PathID™) is recommended at that point.

In addition to the OralID™, Forward Science provides complimentary diagnostic tests designed for early discovery. The company offers an all-inclusive program, called the ID For Life Program™, that provides not only the OralID™ device for each office, but diagnostic tests, unlimited support, marketing materials, a lifetime warranty, and more. The ID For Life Program™ helps to ensure success in implementing an oral cancer screening protocol in each office.

As oral cancer has continued to rise over the past eight years along with the risk factors now affecting all demographics, we encourage you to join Forward Science and commit to screening each of your patients. By working together, we may play a crucial part in reversing oral cancer trends through early detection. Learn more by visiting www.forwardscience.com.

FSForward Science is a privately held biotechnology company based in Houston, Texas. OralID, Forward Science’s flagship product, is an award winning oral cancer screening device that allows clinicians to Shine Light. Save Lives.™ by identifying abnormalities that may not be seen under traditional white light examinations. Forward Science quickly expanded its product portfolio in efforts to provide clinicians with a complete program to battle the rising trends of oral cancer. With the launch of the ID For Life™ Program, Forward Science has evolved into the industry leader for oral oncology. The ID For Life™ Program includes the following in an effort to change the trends for oral cancer: screening device (OralID), diagnostic tests (CytID, PathID, hpvID, phID), and treatment options (SalivaMAX). SalivaMAX is Forward Science’s latest product offering, which is an FDA Cleared prescription strength rinse for all ranges of xerostomia.

Encrypting Your Patient Identity and Health Information

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Guest post by Mark Hollis, CEO of MacPractice

In 2015 alone, the identity and health information of 35% of Americans was exposed – more than 111 Million patient records. More and more, dentists and patients are becoming aware that reported breaches like this effect them directly and can have grave consequences. If you think about it, most of us know someone who has had their personal information compromised and had to spend years recovering from a loss of their identity. Your patient’s identity theft can results in:

Fraudulent charges

Empty bank account

Lost home

Stolen Social Security benefits

Bad credit

Emotional stress, divorce, loss of business, etc.

Health care providers are required by HIPAA to protect EPHI with AES encryption ‘at rest’ on the server and backups, and on a network in the office (and between offices and over the Internet if that applies). The theft and sale of EPHI (Electronic Protected Health Information) is lucrative for thousands of hackers in places like Iran, Russia and China. No one can stop the attempts, but dentists can, at a minimum, use dental software with built-in encryption that makes EPHI indecipherable to a hacker or burglar.

A startling reality is that vendors are NOT required to provide encryption in their software. Other than MacPractice, NONE of the other leading dental vendors provide encryption in their software.

Patients are starting to ask dentists how their data is protected before providing it. In a recent survey, 50% of patients said they would leave their doctor if they were notified their data was exposed, as is required by HIPAA of all doctors who do not encrypt EPHI as well as their database password. In addition, HIPAA and States can assess millions of dollars in fines for non-compliance. This is truly a national emergency.

Encrypted software helps you avoid millions in fines for non-compliance, and qualifies you for HIPAA’s Safe Harbor. In the event of a breach, Safe Harbor can exempt you from having to send first class mail to all who are affected, notify HHS and prominent media, post a notice on your home page, and more. Practices that do not encrypt their patients’ data and report a breach rarely recover.

MacPractice encourages you to learn more about this important topic and how built-in encryption can protect you and your practice. You can download our free whitepaper, register for our encryption webinar and subscribe to our HIPAA web resource page.

MarkHollis_headshot_2014

 

For more than 30 years, Mark has been helping doctors to run their practices more efficiently, first as a practice management consultant and now as CEO of MacPractice – the leading software for doctors who prefer Apple technology. Mark has spoken at seminars, trade shows, dental schools and more than 500 small business events at Apple locations. He is an established and well-respected leader on Cloud computing, dental and medical technology and Electronic Health Records.

He can be reached at markhollis@macpractice.com

4 Reasons Patients No Show

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Broken appointments cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year. While you’re never going to completely eliminate cancellations and no-shows in your practice, you can significantly reduce them. How? First you have to understand why patients don’t show up.  Here are four reasons patients don’t make dental appointments a priority, and what you can do to change that at your practice:

1. They Don’t See the Value of Dentistry – When patients don’t understand the importance of maintaining their oral health, they’re much more likely to skip out on their appointment times. That’s why education is so important, and should be part of every patient interaction.

 

2. You Don’t Create a Sense of Urgency – When you recommend treatment to patients, you have to stress the importance of going forward with that treatment. Make sure patients understand the possible consequences of ignoring the problem, and the benefits of maintaining their oral health. Never leave them with the impression that there’s no hurry to pursue the treatment you’re recommending. After all, if you aren’t worried about it, why should they be?

 

3. You Don’t Always Confirm Appointments – Your patients are busy people with many responsibilities, so they might not remember making an appointment with your office. This is especially true if they made that appointment six months ago. That’s why you have to make sure your Scheduling Coordinator and/or your patient communication system confirms every appointment with every patient two days in advance (via their preferred method of contact).

 

4. You Don’t Have a Cancellation Policy –  When you have a cancellation policy and communicate that policy with patients, it helps them to see the importance of showing up for their appointment. If you don’t have a cancellation policy, develop one now and make sure you let both new and current patients know it exists. Remind patients about the policy when they schedule their appointments. Ask them to give your office at least two days’ notice if they can’t make their appointment so another patient can see the doctor.

 

Broken appointments wreak havoc on your day and cost you time and money. If you follow these tips, you’ll see a huge reduction in the number of cancellations and no-shows your practice has to deal with each week, and that, doctor, will do wonders for reducing stress levels while also growing your productivity numbers and your bottom line.

To read this article in it’s entirety CLICK HERE

Practice Website: 5 Points to Consider

Friday, December 6th, 2013

1. Look like your target audience. Make sure that the website has a look and feel that reflects your audience. For example, the type of website that will resonate with the target audience in Manhattan, NY, will not be the same type of website that will appeal to the target audience in Manhattan, KS.

 

The images on the site should reflect the audience. If your practice focus is dental implants, dentures, and your demographic is older patients, your website shouldn’t have numerous images of teenagers and young people.

 

2. Keep content relevant. Content should be written in a patient-friendly style. Provide enough information to enable the patient to understand it to the point that they are comfortable calling the practice. Give enough information that the search engines will find you, and avoid limiting information to just bullet points because bullets alone reduce the chances that the search engines will find your site.

 

3. Be careful that content is not copyrighted.

 

4. Avoid music. It’s annoying for the users. When the music starts, the user is looking for the off button.

 

5. Navigation should be consistent on every page. This enables people to quickly find what they are looking for. If you make them work, they will leave your site and go to your competitor’s.

Where’s Your ‘Wow’?

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

So, you want more new patients.

 

You’ve begged, cajoled, pleaded, and promised that their experience in your practice will be the best ever! And then what happens? They show up in your practice ready to be wowed … can you deliver?

 

Delivering the excellent experience that patients expect begins long before they are seated in your treatment chair; it begins when they call your practice to schedule the appointment. If staff are not trained to expertly communicate with prospective as well as current patients, you are losing money. You are losing patients. And you are losing control of your reputation.

 

All new patients should be sent a practice “Welcome Packet” the day they schedule their first appointment. This includes a brief welcome letter from the doctor indicating his/her commitment to providing the best possible care for patients. The letter also emphasizes specific qualities about the practice that set it apart from others, such as, the extremely high infection control standards, dentistry for the entire family, painless dentistry techniques, etc. But don’t stop there.

 

The letter should direct the patients to the practice website where they can learn more about the office and the staff and complete necessary forms and paperwork in advance of the appointment. The Welcome Packet also should include a business card, a New Patient Information form, and a map to the practice with the office phone number on it.

 

Finally, when the new patient arrives, s/he should feel like s/he is the most important person in your office. Take the new patient on a brief tour of the office, and pay attention to the questions s/he asks and the comments the individual makes. These provide insight into the patient’s own oral health goals, objectives, and possible concerns.

Are You Really Accepting New Patients?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

 

If your schedule is so booked that it is “impossible” to schedule a new patient within the next week, you likely have one or more of the following situations occurring: The office books patients six months in advance for hygiene. No one is tracking appointment failures and cancellations; consequently, the schedule looks artificially overloaded. No one is monitoring the numbers of new patient calls to ensure that the practice allocates a specific number of openings in the schedule during prime appointment times to accommodate new patients.

 

Determine how much time you need to allocate in the schedule to accommodate new patients. Remember, new patient slots should be reserved during prime time. Those are the hours in which your practice experiences the greatest demand for appointments, and, typically, they are in the late afternoons, evenings, and on Saturdays. If you make it easy for the patient to keep the appointment, they will feel confident in their decision to choose your practice.

 

Additionally, review new patient activity in your practice over the last six months. If you saw 60 new patients, that would be 10 per month and 2.5 per week. Reserve at least that much time in your schedule to handle immediate new patient demand. If you are planning to actively market your practice, you may need to make adjustments to ensure that your practice can meet demand. Nothing destroys your credibility quicker than an advertisement that claims your practice is accepting new patients only to have a business employee tell eager callers that they will have to wait for weeks to get in.

 

Make Emergency Patients Your Biggest Fans

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Embrace the opportunity that emergency patients bring and watch them become your greatest and most loyal fans. If you don’t already have one, create an emergency patient experience protocol. Obviously, this goes beyond triaging the patient to address the immediate oral health problem. This protocol also addresses how the patient is to be managed throughout the visit. Certainly, the priority is to get the person out of pain, but it is also a huge opportunity to provide a truly excellent patient experience that the patient will not only remember fondly, but will happily share with others. In addition, it’s the opportunity to educate the patient on what your practice can do for them so that they don’t find themselves in a similar situation in the future.  
 

The objective is to ensure that the emergency patient feels that the employees are understanding and helpful – not punitive – even when staff are under pressure. Pay attention to cues the patient gives. Does the patient appear anxious or fearful? Is the person concerned about the cost of the treatment or the pain or the time the procedure is going to require? Is the patient apologizing because it’s been such a long time since their last appointment? Has this person had a negative dental experience in the past? Does the patient appear angry or frustrated?  
 
Listening closely to the patient’s concerns will help you identify possible objections they may have to pursuing comprehensive care. Knowing these enables you to break them down with appropriate educational tools. Making the effort to understand patient concerns and show sincere kindness and compassion will enable you to convert far more emergency patients to comprehensive exams.

Do New Patients Want You?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

It’s likely that in your community there are multiple dentists that could expertly address the oral health needs of any and every new patient. There are a host of reasons why one practice scores low and another scores high on new patient appeal. For example, convenient hours and/or practice location, reputation for excellence, offering a variety of services and treatment options, affordable payment plans, friendly staff are just a few of the essentials on the prospective new patient score card. 
 
If your goal is to increase numbers of new patients, consider the work and lifestyle habits of the patient population you want to attract. If you practice in a bedroom community where most people commute into the city and work 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., providing appointments in the evenings or on Saturdays may be necessary. If you are in a major metropolitan area, staggering the lunch hour or adjusting the workday, so that your practice is fully staffed and prepared to offer more lunchtime appointments as well as early morning appointments may be essential to attracting new patients. 
 
In addition to considering whether your hours encourage or discourage new patients, evaluate how accommodating your current scheduling structure is. When prospective new patients call, is there room in your schedule to appointment them within the next week? New patients are calling because they want your services now, not next month. 

Creating The New Patient Experience

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Follow these steps to set the tone for an excellent new patient experience.

 

• Create a comfortable, non-rushed environment when explaining treatment. Patients need to feel that they are important and worthy of your time.

 

• Explain the general steps of the procedure, but avoid getting into excruciating detail.

 

• Tell the patient how you will make her/him comfortable during treatment and what options are available, such as anesthetic, sedation, etc.

 

• Choose language that fits the patient’s educational level of understanding and speak slowly.

 

• Use educational tools, like video or other visual aids. Summarize what the patient has viewed and ask if there are any areas that need further explanation.

 

• Explain alternatives to the treatment. Make sure the benefits and the possible risks are understood. Informed consent in writing is necessary when there are risks and when the outcome could be less than favorable.

 

• Ask questions to determine if the patient has any false ideas about treatment.

 

• Be empathetic to the patients’ concerns about the condition of their teeth. Patients who have postponed dental care are often embarrassed.

 

• Look the patient in the eye when discussing treatment. Sit at the same level as the patient and lean slightly forward to show interest and care. You will be able to observe the patient’s response more readily.

 

Handled correctly, new patient visits should be one of the highlights of your day.