Our recent survey, answered by over 200 dental professionals, found that although stress levels in practices were only reported as unmanageable by a minority, the largest number of respondents ranked stress for both them and the practice team at 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 101.With many dental practices working ‘flat out’ to keep up with patient demand, amongst other potential contributors such as the rising cost of living and staff shortages, it is easy to see how stress can build – meaning action should be taken now to alleviate stress before a ‘breaking point’ is reached.
One way of doing so is by taking the weight off your team with the power of automation; speeding up admin processes and ultimately allowing your team to do more with less.
Here’s just three areas we advise you incorporate to streamline and automate your reception workflow:1. Online Booking
With telephone during practice hours still rated as the most popular method by practices for patients to book appointments (48.1% of respondents ranked it first)1, it’s a fair assumption to make that the majority of calls your team receives throughout the day (and even out of hours) is to book appointments. However, with 46.7% of calls to practices going unanswered or to voicemail (in data analysis of 23,024 calls)2, whether it be due to welcoming patients into the practice, being preoccupied with other admin tasks or the practice simply being closed for the day – there’s a risk that you could be causing unnecessary friction and frustrations with patients, leading them to potentially look elsewhere where they can receive the commitment they need of their next appointment.
By offering an alternative method for patients to book appointments via an Online Booking system, which according to the Gartner report healthcare is the number one industry where people want to book online, your reception team will no longer be met with a telephone ringing off the hook whilst they try to check patients in, meaning:
- Patients will receive a more personalised experience when they arrive in practice as the receptionist’s attention will be less divided and can be better focused on alleviating any patient concerns, making them feel welcome and collecting any required information.
- If your team is spending on average 2 minutes per booking call and making 20 bookings per day – you could be saving up to 27 hours per month which can reduce stress on the team and allow for more time to be redirected to patient care.
- Your practice will be positioned as more ‘patient-centric’ in the current climate, demonstrating empathy with the business of patient’s everyday lives, empowering them to book their next appointment on the go and at a time that suits them.
What does your current recall strategy look like?
If the answer is: ‘we just look at set intervals’, ‘there isn’t one’ or ‘we dedicate a day to just sending recalls’ - now may be the time for you to review your processes.
Regardless of the intervals you have set for your patients, how sure are you that you are optimising the messaging, time sent and method of communication for maximum effectiveness?
Manually sending recalls and operating with little to no strategy could be causing a number of issues for your practice without you even realising it....
- ‘Bottlenecking’ on the phone lines if recalls are sent out in mass and without a booking link, leading to timely back and forth communication to actually get the patients booked in.
- Unnecessary time and resources spent manually sending recalls – with some patients still getting forgotten!
- Ineffective recalls that aren’t being tailored to optimal time and method of communication, meaning effort is wasted and there could be a potential breakdown in your patient's oral health if they fail to complete treatment plans (not to mention revenue for your practice).
With Automated Recalls, you can regain control of all these factors with minimal effort. Giving you the ability to:
- Stagger recalls to avoid any potential problems with mass messaging and give the patients the option to book directly through their recall via the Online Booking integration.
- Send recalls in the background, for exactly when they’re needed, without any user input required.
- Deliver professional messaging with custom templates to fit your branding using your chosen method: SMS, email, EasyPost.
And with the added bonus of being able to analyse recall effectiveness, you can spend less time ‘doing’ and more time ‘monitoring’ - something that with time, will allow your team to identify and make the changes needed to help grow your practice.3. Workflow Manager
From asking patients for marketing consent to booking their next appointment – bringing your receptionists task lists together into a useful list of prompts with Workflow Manager, will guarantee consistency and ensure that nothing gets forgotten, something that is crucial to ensuring everything else in your practice runs smoothly...
Example A: Your patient makes their way down to reception following their appointment after being advised of the treatment they need next and when this should be. The receptionist proceeds to take payment for that day and asks if the 27th January at 10AM is suitable for their next treatment. The patient is unsure of their commitments so suggests they will call back to confirm. The receptionist forgets to ask for Marketing Consent and their email address and sends them on their way.
Example B: Your patient makes their way down to reception following their appointment after being advised of the treatment they need next and when this should be. The receptionist proceeds to take payment for that day and asks if the 27th January at 10AM is suitable for their next treatment. The patient is unsure of their commitments so suggests they will call back to confirm. Prompted to ask for the patients most up to date contact details and marketing consent, the receptionist quickly updates the patient file and sends them on their way.
Following the patient leaving the practice, how do we know that the patient will make that call to get their next appointment booked in? Unfortunately, we don’t.
This is why tasks such as data collection should be made a priority so that later down the line, those all-important recalls can be sent – increasing recall effectiveness, patient retention, satisfaction rates and the accuracy of data kept on file. With Workflow Manager, guaranteeing consistency in task completion is made easy. Again, leaving one less thing for you and your team to think about.
Ready to start giving your team more time for what matters? Get in contact with us today where we can help you to streamline workflows, reduce work-related stress and boost efficiencies.
1 'Barriers to Success', A Software of Excellence White Paper 2022
2 Recent data analysis from Software of Excellence