Four Ways Technology Can Improve Patient Communication

Author: Precious Thompson
Precious Thompson

Precious Thompson

Dr. Precious Thompson is a board-certified dentist who provides comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry. She is the founder of Thousand Oaks Dental in San Antonio, Texas. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
01.26.16 / 11:42 am

Technology can be used to improve communication with patients, sometimes in simple ways. This could mean adding phone lines to be able to accommodate more calls at once or creating a well-designed and up-to-date website that can convey important information to both potential and current patients. Social media could also help patients connect with a practice on a more intimate and personal level.

 In the Digital Age, some of those communication ideas seem obvious. The dental industry, however, has been using technology to connect with patients in more creative areas of practice. Now, technology can be used to help patients and dental professionals communicate from the moment the first appointment is scheduled until he or she has concluded the visit. Below are four ways in which technology can help you improve patient communication:

Schedule Appointments Online
More and more dental patients throughout the country want to make that initial contact with a dental office through the internet. Patients no longer want to call or stop in to schedule an appointment. They want to be able to choose a date and time for a visit online and at their own convenience. Automated appointment scheduling helps practices remain competitive, and it can be beneficial to both patients and the practice.

Although having patients use the internet to schedule an appointment may seem like a reduction in communication, this form of communication can be considered a better way to interact. According to research conducted by global management consulting firm Accenture, 77 percent of patients think the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is important.

Online scheduling is the type of communication patients want compared to scheduling an appointment over the phone. It is quicker and easier, but it also gives them a feeling of control. Additionally, if dental offices want to add a personal touch to the scheduling process, they can follow up with an email or phone call to confirm the appointment.

Of course, this is a service that could be optional. Some patients, especially those who are less tech savvy, may still prefer to call to schedule an appointment. If they do, they may prefer having that different level of interaction. No matter how the appointment is scheduled, you should be sure to let patients know you appreciate them choosing your practice.

 

Send Appointment Reminders
Once an appointment has been scheduled, dental offices can utilize new technology to follow up with patients and keep them informed about their upcoming visit. They can utilize services and companies like Solutionreach that work to improve patient communication through email and text-based patient messaging as a subscription-based service.

In plain terms, companies like this use email, text messaging, and phone calls to keep in contact with patients. This could include sending automated text messages to patients to remind them about upcoming appointments. This not only establishes a sense of communication with the patient, but it helps to decrease the number of no-shows a practice may experience.

These emails, texts, and phone calls can be personalized to each patient. The content, style, and design can be changed to match your brand and the image you would like to portray. For phone calls that serve as a reminder, this could include a personalized message you record yourself. No matter how you choose to do it, this simple communication can let patients know you want them to visit your practice.

 

See Clear Visual of Dental Health
Once patients arrive in the dental office, two-way communication is absolutely necessary. One way to improve communication relating directly to the patient’s dental health is adding more technology like digital radiography to produce visual examples. This can give patients a glimpse into their oral health and can help them visualize how the issues can be resolved.

Digital radiography is a form of X-ray imaging where digital X-ray sensors are used instead of traditional photographic film. This allows patients to see their radiographic images magnified on a large screen, rather than seeing small versions of the X-rays. Additionally, digital radiography has the ability to enhance and magnify the image, which aids the dentist in diagnosis.

If a patient enters a dental office nervous and a little unsure of his or her dental health, these visual images can spark conversation. Instead of a dentist explaining a situation that could be complex to someone outside of the dental industry, these images serve as a teaching example. For instance, if a patient has to have his or her wisdom teeth removed, it is important to be able to show them a visual while explaining the reasoning. This can make them feel more relaxed and trusting throughout the process.

 

Receive Valuable Feedback
Dental offices should plan to communicate with patients even after they have left the office, and technology can make that much easier. Offices could utilize personalized text messages and emails to receive valuable feedback on the patient’s visit. Companies like Solutionreach use these options to provide a communication outlet for patients and a way for dental professionals to gauge their practice.

These surveys could be sent automatically or manually through email after patients have visited the office. The questions can be customized to your business and ask how you can improve your practice and procedures. They can be questions you choose, or they can be generated based on existing questions. In some situations, the emails can be sent to all patients to obtain feedback regarding policies, procedures, or other broad topics.

Dental professionals often are aware of the need to communicate with patients, but they sometimes forget that patients need a constructive way to communicate back. These surveys provide an outlet for them to explain what they enjoy about your practice and to define some things that need to be improved. This communication can be beneficial to the business, and it can show patients you are concerned about their overall well-being while in your care.

 

Conclusion
Technology changes the way we communicate, and sometimes that notion carries a negative connotation. People often think technology decreases human interaction and actual communication, but dental professionals can be creative in how they use certain developments. With a little research and effort, technology can be used in a way to make patients and dentist feel more connected than before. Effective communication requires patience, effort, humility, and a process for improvement.

Precious Thompson

Precious Thompson

Dr. Precious Thompson is a board-certified dentist who provides comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry. She is the founder of Thousand Oaks Dental in San Antonio, Texas. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

15 responses to “Four Ways Technology Can Improve Patient Communication”

  1. Excellent !! Thanks Dr. Orecious
    Patient Communication is very important for dental practice. According to my dental practice, i found that only proper patient communication can be key point for your clinc success.
    We are using patient management System software to ensure quick and accurate patient appoointment and dentists visite.
    Happy Dentistry !!
    Cheers

  2. When it comes to sending appointment reminders I would not brush over the text you’re sending your clients.

    Take some time and think about what you want to say in that reminder, if the customer is a first time visitor then often putting your address in the message can be seen as a great first hands off interaction. People lead busy lifes and if they don’t how to find you at the last minute they can just refer back to the text reminder.

  3. This is an excellent article that allows us to take a step back and really refocus on daily operations and tools that we need to communicate and grow a practice. I have found that having an all-in-one dental office software, that allows me to email, fax, patients directly, is the most beneficial. My dental software also allows me to send automated eReminders via text and email as appointment reminders-directly in my software and also at no extra charge. This has helped my office tremendously since it all displays on the appointment book and I can see my day-at-a-glance of confirmed appoitnments. I feel that these communication tools that are built into Mogo Dental Software have really made my office soar to new levels.

  4. You made great points in this article Precious, and I couldn’t agree more. Although experience and expertise are no doubt valued qualities, patients also want their dentists to genuinely care about them. Effective communication, whether through verbal skills or digital platforms, is pivotal to facilitate this meaningful contact between patients and dental professionals.

  5. I am a very big proponent of using new technologies at our practice, whether for actual dental work or making things more convenient for my patients. Why not use all the great technology at our disposal nowadays?

  6. Everything that was written in this post explains the importance of being in the trend in the new means of communication in this digital age. Your website acts in the front line to attract possible leads, so it is vital that the content showcases your brand very well. Another tip is to display your phone number at the upper portion of the homepage in a very noticeable way. An expert in digital marketing will help you setup your website and communication channel to sync and result to a larger number of leads conversion. http://www.spargoconnect.com

  7. Great read. Many dental practices are investing in dental practice finance to invest in the technology that will allow them improve their practice and communication methods.

  8. There are many software that can reduce your workload by 50 percentage but using a cloud based patient relationship management system is based on your requirement and nature of patient. Such software like DocMate, Lighthouse360 etc are also most preferable softwares to manage your office from anywhere and anytime.

    Online Patient Management System (Visit for price and feature comperison)
    http://www.docmate.com/
    http://www.lh360.com/
    https://www.solutionreach.com/

  9. Very nice and important to read blog!!! Investing more in a new communication tecnology can only do good for your practice. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Todays life tecnology can be used to improve communication with patients,sometimes in simple ways. This important information to both potential and current patients. Social media could also help patients connect with a practice on a more intimate and personal level. technology can be used to help patients and dental professionals communicate from the moment the first appointment is scheduled until he or she has concluded the visit. Below are four ways in which technology can help you improve patient communication: Technology changes the way we communicate, and sometimes that notion carries a negative connotation. People often think technology decreases human interaction and actual communication, but dental professionals can be creative in how they use certain developments.Services offered by BIT USA cover a wide domain. To offer Dental office paperless solutions is the target we set our eyes on, so as to develop software that satisfies all the dental requirements.Customers can now generate a support ticket to our technical support group by simply filling out this online form. One of our consultants will contact you with a resolution.

  11. Hello Dr. Precious,
    Thanks for your informative article regarding patient communication.
    We are using some top ranked dental solution to imporved patient and dental communication. It saves huge time and miss-understanding as well.
    I believe each dental practice should use information management application to increase patient communication as well.

    Kind Regards,
    Arran Smith

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