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Tablets in the Dental Office

tablet

Tablets were big news at CES last year. They are still big news. Tablets are becoming thinner, lighter, more powerful, and more affordable than ever. However the fact we are still talking about them as a future technology indicates we still haven’t really incorporated them into everyday work.

In dentistry I see tablets as a valuable extra but not as a replacement for desktops in the treatment rooms. A tablet will be the computer each team member caries with them from room to room to read and write notes view images and communicate with the rest of the office. However we will still need a treatment room computer to capture and process diagnostics such as x-ray images.

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REAL Recall – Recall Systems For The Modern Practice

REAL Recall – Matching Advancements in Practice Management and Clinical Dentistry

Dentistry has been practiced since 7,000 BC and “Modern” dentistry began with the establishment of the first dental school, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, in 1840.  Since that time, now nearly 170 years later, clinical knowledge and technology have advanced considerably.

Today’s dental office is far more effective and efficient than its counterpart from one hundred years ago. Yet, many office’s business systems appear to have never evolved with their clinic. Modern dentistry is performed using drill technology that has advanced light years from its initial implementation. A dentists now also utilize air abrasion and lasers! Clinical dentistry has come “a long way baby….” as Livvie Matthews points out in her great article. And yet, the average business office that supports them still tries to operate out of a shoe box to mail announcements, reminders, and notices to patients (AND will rationalize and justify why this is a “good” thing!).

Does Patient Perception Matter?

Patient perception of how “modern” an office is – while seemingly intangible – is far more valuable than almost any other aspect of marketing and management. It directly impacts case acceptance, appointment compliance, referrals to other friends and family, and overall practice production.  Handing a person a blank card for them to hand-write their own appointment reminder TODAY is the equivalent of inviting them into a dental practice that still uses a stone-aged bow-drill….it does not inspire confidence or provide anything to brag about.

Since the clinical team has the technology chair-side to impress the patient with Jedi skills (which, unfortunately, most patients often fail to notice), should not the main stage also be set with identical capabilities?  Luke Skywalker did not ONLY have a light saber that was rarely used…..he had both C-3PO and R2-D2 beside him providing him with information AND doing a great deal of work autonomously!   Every modern dental office today can and should have the same level of artificial intelligence working in the office – 24 x 7 – 365 days a year

Get Ready, Here Comes the Future of Dental Recall Systems!

Each patient is unique in their dental needs and challenges. While the advertising industry has imprinted everyone with the concept “Visit your dentist twice a year”, we all know that patients may actually require a different visit frequency. This schedule is normally determined and documented in the practice management system (PMS) used by your clinical team.  This key information, along with the date of last cleaning (not to be confused with the date of  last visit) is vital to know when a patient is “due” to visit the office again – for an actual cleaning.  At each patient’s visit, they may choose to commit to a future appointment (that they may or may not keep…) or they may choose to wait to make an appointment until the time gets nearer.   Either decision creates a bunch of “future work” for the office, that either can be handled as best as possible (i.e. inefficiently with all of the normal day to day transactions), or can be given to the artificial intelligence to handle flawlessly.

For the patient that DID make an appointment 6 months from now:

Manual Approach: The current manual challenge is to correctly write up and hand patients a little appointment card (that will be lost somewhere between the front desk and the parking lot…) and then wait.   Hopefully, anywhere between 4 to 6 months from now, a staff member will have the time to generate printed reminder cards (if the office is semi-modern) or alternatively pull hand written cards (of which many no longer are relevant) and get them into the mail with the hope that the patient will arrive at the appointment made 6 months ago.

Automated Approach: If an “artificial intelligence” is given the job, the dedication to detail is far greater and provides the patient with a “wow” factor that they will share with their friends.   As the patient is checking out from the current cleaning appointment, and commits to that time 6 months in the future – they will receive a “Save the Date” email that will meet them when they get to their office / home where it will have a much greater probability of being added to their “official” calendar and remembered. As the actual appointment draws nearer, the computer (with no need for human intervention to run reports, start tasks, etc) will know when to start “reminding” patients that they have an appointment – and will do this using a variety of tools  including e-mail, text-messaging, automated phone call, and yes – even a postcard (you want to have a 100% solution).    On the day of the appointment, the computer can (and will) send reminder text messages to make sure that last minute distractions do not result in an idle chair, a bored hygienist, and a frantic conversation with the patient 10 minutes after their appointment start time.

For the patient that did NOT make an appointment for 6 months from now:

Yes, I am one of those (And yes there are many more like me. How do I know what will happen six months from now?)  who checkout and will “call back” to make an appointment 6 months from now. Better yet, I’ll just “wait for the notice” to arrive in the mail?

Manual approach: The current manual challenge is to keep up with all of these “patients of record – but not on the book” people to try to get them converted back to actual made appointments (which then must be cared for in the same manner above!).  Hopefully with the help of a practice management system – some team member, when they have the time, will run the necessary reports on a regular enough schedule to identify a bunch of patients that need to be “worked on”.  This work would be phone calling or loading cards into a printer to print / stamp / mail. The importance of this task is critical, yet it relies on many faulty components – starting with the practice management system (of which many do NOT accurately identify patients that need to be contacted), the knowledge of the tasks and systems by ever changing staff members, and the actual time available to DO the work.

Automated Approach: When an “artificial intelligence” (Again, think R2D2 and C3PO here) takes on this critical job in real time, it is analyzing every patient and appointment to know WHO is on recall but not currently scheduled for a recall appointment.  The computer will then use all of the tools mentioned above to insure the correct message is sent at the correct time resulting in an appointment being made (and then doing everything mentioned above to make sure the appointment is kept).   If the patient is non-responsive to every “touch” (e-mail, text, postcard, etc.) the computer will NOT allow the patient to fall through the crack and will continue to contact patients that are past-due AND will send notices to the office staff for occasional assistance (so a person can talk to them when it is actually needed).   This will provide the office with the double benefit of KNOWING a critical aspect of the office is covered (no vacations, no sick days, no holidays) and more “found time” is now  available for staff members to focus on items that require a personal touch.

Once the artificial intelligence is turned on in the office and the key tasks are taken care of, there are many other items that can be added to the chore list:

–        Chart Audit / Reactivation (done daily instead whenever….)
–        Morning Huddle Report (review of yesterday, today and tomorrow)
–        Remote Access to office from smart phones and other devices
–        Confirmation calling and texting (what more people are expecting)
–        Statistical analysis and review of office activities and status

Most modern practices today can enable these automated systems for pennies a day. This addition to your practice management system will help your practice be perceived as a  modern, “leading edge” healthcare provider. Just as Luke Skywalker had his choice of robots, you have a variety of choices for automated practice management services.  A dental appointment book and dental patients is very special and has many subtle nuances (like differentiating between a cleaning visit versus a restorative visit or knowing the cleaning interval of each specific patient) that you want to make sure the artificial intelligence you “hire” (they are just a robot applying for a job) is aware of.    Lastly, which ever artificial intelligence you hire should be expected to show up and work each day – with no contract required.   As long as they are meeting your needs, you will continue to use them for everyone’s benefit.   If they cannot perform the job as you expect – or someone better comes along – you should NOT be forced to continue doing business with them because of a contract……unless you are getting the same contractual commitment from your patients?

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Allen Jorgensen is a front office manager for his wife’s practice started from scratch in 1994 as an all digital and chartless practice.   Over the years he has applied his 30+ years of commercial data processing experience to automate every aspect of a traditional dental office.    North Gwinnett Dental Care is located in Sugar Hill Georgia and continues to host office tours for anyone interested in seeing how a 15+ year digital office operates.   Allen is also the CFO of Lighthouse Practice Management Group which provides automation solutions to dental offices around the world.   For more information visit www.lpmg360.com or call 888-427-5454 x 88

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9 Top Areas To Address In Your Social Media Policy

I could hardly believe my eyes! I’d read about it, discussed it, reviewed it, even posted about it, but I had never actually seen it… An apparent staff member posting a negative post about their position in their dental office…while at their office!!

Social media is here and whether you are utilizing social media in your practice/business or not, your employees are! It would be great if you could depend on posts being all positive and upbeat, but we know that’s not reality.

You know Social Media and its implications to your business or practice. You know the importance of having some type of Social Media Policy in place for your practice/business, but…. what areas need to be addressed?

The top 9 areas to address in your Social Media Policy:

  1. Policy Statement: This is a generalized statement about participating in social media. Tie it in with your Office Manual and Personal Conduct. Also acknowledge that what’s done on their time is their business. However, certain activities at work or outside work that could affect job
    performance, theirs or another employee’s, or the practice’s interests are a proper focus for policy.
  2. Definitions: Reference the Social Media Channels and Social Media Networks you are referring to in your policy. For example, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, social bookmarking, sharing platforms, etc. Also reference how these might be addressed. For example, internet, mobile, text, email, etc. Also reference Social Media Accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, and any other Social Media Channels.
  3. Objectives: Establish and include guidelines that employees adhere to and why you are initiating the Social Media Policy.
  4. Guiding Principles: Address how you expect employees to use social media at work and outside work. Who can “speak” on behalf of the practice/business. What can and cannot be discussed while at work or on their own time. Assure online activities don’t interfere with job requirements or commitment to patients/clients.
  5. Respectfulness: Keep interaction online (at work or on their time), always careful of what’s posted. For example, don’t say or post anything you wouldn’t want seen on the front page of the local newspaper or want your Grandmother to read!
  6. Disclosure and Transparency: Social media is all about trust and building relationships. Be aware of what you are posting, be honest, and disclose your true identity. Transparency and Authenticity (open and genuine) are the two key elements in Social Media.
  7. Privacy: Address you, the Employers, right to privacy and Employees right to privacy. As such employers and employees have the right to keep personal opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions private and employees are prohibited from violating another employee or their employer’s right to privacy.
  8. Confidentiality: Effectively managing and protecting confidential information is critical. Failure to manage and protect confidential information correctly and what that could result in. ALSO Employees can disagree but external blogs or other online social media channels are not to be used to air employee disagreements. Note: Again, be careful of what’s posted. It’s going to be on the social networks for a long time. If in doubt, don’t post it!!
  9. Penalties: Failure to comply with these Social Media Policies may result in: List what could happen if an employee does not comply. They could include: Warnings, No longer have access to certain information, Disciplinary action, up to and including termination, even Civil or criminal penalties as provided by law (depending on the situation).

Once printed, make copies for each employee. Then have a staff meeting introducing and going over the social media policies of the office. Then have each employee sign that they understand and have received a copy.

This is not an all inclusive list nor do all of these have to be addressed. Your practice or business will determine how involved you need to be with your social media policy.

However, whether your practice is actually using social media should not be the determining factor for whether or not you need a social media policy. The fact that your employees ARE using social media makes having your social media policies in place…critical!

If you have your social media policies in place, what areas did you address not listed here?

***NOTE: This is not meant to be legal advice and I am not an attorney.

 

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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals who want to keep it simple and easy to understand. Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie: Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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Facebook Business Page: Do I Really Need It?

One of the questions asked often is:  “I already have a Profile page on Facebook, do I really need a Facebook Business Page?”

That’s sort of like the question (in dentistry) “Do I really need to floss?” You know the answer ….Only the teeth you want to keep!!

Originally, Facebook was only for making connections, not for business, hence PROFILE pages. It was a profile of you, your personal information, likes and dislikes.

Then businesses began to see the power of Facebook and started creating PROFILE pages for their businesses (which is actually against Facebook rules).  So in true Facebook fashion…Facebook started making changes (imagine that!) and created the BUSINESS page portion of Facebook.

Profile pages are very limited as to what can and can’t be done as far as a business is concerned.  The most noticeable being viewers have to wait to be confirmed after sending a “friend request”.

To see how the two differ let’s look at PROFILE -vs- BUSINESS page this way:

Your PROFILE page is really a personal page (and not to be used as a business per FB).  It’s like your home.  If someone comes to your door at home, they knock on your door and have to wait to be let in.

Your BUSINESS page is just that….your Business.  When someone comes to your place of business, they walk right in (during business hours of course). They don’t have to wait to be “confirmed”.  Remember we live in an age of ‘instant gratification’!

With that said, think about people interested in doing business with you having to wait outside until you let them in (PROFILE: waiting for you to confirm their ‘friend request’).

That could sometimes take days.  By that time, you may confirm them, but they may have already found someone else to do business with.  You’ve lost a potential client or patient.

With a BUSINESS page on Facebook, your visitors walk right in as soon as they “Like” you.  The “Like” is just opening your door.  No waiting for you to approve them.  Come to think of it, when did you ever have to wait to be approved before you could enter a store or business to shop or receive services?

We also talk about branding and how important it is to brand our business.  In fact we spend a lot of time…writing posts, uploading pictures, creating videos, posting our bios, responding to viewers…branding our business…to get viewers and potential clients and patients to come to our Facebook page….only to have them….wait while you approve/confirm their friend request!

That’s like finally getting a new prospect to call your office….only to be put on endless hold…and hope they are still on the line when you get back to them!

Why would you want to make a prospective new client or patient wait to see all you have available to them when they don’t have too??  You’ve spent and invested too much time in getting that prospect to your Facebook site to make them wait!

Then if you’ve seen the light and are thinking….”OK, If I create a Business page, will I lose all the people I’ve connected with on my Profile page?” Absolutely not!  You still are connected to them, can market to them, and will point them to your business page.

If you’re comfortable with creating Facebook pages, you can create your own business page (connected to your profile page) or outsource it to a social media specialist.

So in answer to the original question: “…..Do I really need a Facebook Business page?” Answer:  “Only if you’re in business!”

The point is, when you’re in business, you always want to put your best business foot forward. So unlock your doors and be “Open to the public”.  Create your Facebook Business page and let your new prospects… walk right in!

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Livvie Matthews, Dental Social Media Consultant and Coach, provides “how to’s” on Internet marketing and social media networking for dental professionals, who want to keep it simple and easy to understand.  Free 8 day Social Media eCourse delivered immediately to your inbox http://bit.ly/dQEZof Visit http://www.SimpleSocialMedia.TV Contact Livvie:  Livvie@simplesocialmedia.tv

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Videos

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