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August 2017 saw the kick off of the inaugural Dental Masterclass – Attract, Engage, Retain, hosted by HealthEngine, Great Dental Websites, Prime Practice and ZipMoney.

This event, held at The Den Cocktail Bar at Crown Entertainment Complex, treated guests to fine food and drinks while several keynote speakers provided insights into the market. Exclusively open to dental practices owners, the event highlighted the latest insights into how to attract new patients to your practice, continue to engage those patients over time, and retain them to create long term relationships.

Patient Behaviour

Digital technology, namely the rise of internet-connected mobile devices, has changed the very way that dental practices interact with their patients. Mark Matear of HealthEngine, Australia’s leading patient engagement platform, presented guests with insights into patient behavioural trends. Mark explored analysis gleaned from the 10 million online bookings HealthEngine has facilitated since 2011. Key insights that attendees found of particular interest included:

  • Discovering that 62% of online bookings were captured on mobile devices.
  • Age is no longer a barrier to the uptake of digital booking tools with nearly 20% of bookings being made by those over the age of 55.
  • Patients are demanding the convenience of online bookings with a patient survey revealing that top reasons for wanting to book online is seeing the available time slots and being able to book after business hours when the practice is closed.

Website Design

Alex Mair of Great Dental Websites then took attendees through the untold story of Kodak’s rise and fall. This case study resonated with practice owners by highlighting what can happen if you don’t continue to adapt and evolve your business. Alex provided some simple ways for dental practices to improve the success of their websites including:

  • Creating a simple yet effective design which prioritises the key actions that patients take once visiting a practice website – such as online booking facility, telephone number and address.
  • Knowing that you have on average of 8 seconds to create a positive impression on a patient when they land on your website, you need to create content that is easy to be quickly scanned through by visitors.

Building patient trust

Dentists often find quickly building trust with their patients tricky. Yet a failure to achieve this during a new patient exam ultimately results in negative treatment outcomes for patients if the dentist is unable to convince them of the importance of going ahead with essential treatment. Prime Practice’s Brett Churnin highlighted the Top 5 ways in which dentists break the trust of a new patient, and how to overcome them. These ‘trustbusters’ were led by:

  1. Your persona as a dentist and treating the patient like a set of teeth
  2. Not giving patients a sense of control
  3. Avoiding addressing the reasons patients don’t like coming to the dentist
  4. Focusing on the solution rather than the problem
  5. Old-school education delivered at the end of the appointment

Ensuring patients can afford the care they need

Eli Hecht of ZipMoney rounded out the evening by introducing the audience to Dr Joe Muscara, who provided guests with his top ways to ensure his patients take up the treatment they need. As a practicing dentist, Dr Muscara identified early on that many patients were failing to go ahead with essential treatment due to the cost. With his insights, attendees took away some effective methods to overcome this issue:

  • Often patients don’t even make it to the dental practice as the fear of the potential cost keeps them away from a consultation. With this in mind, proactive communication and education with your patient base on the option of a payment plan has proven to drive inactive patients to the practice. Communication methods include welcome packs, email communications and improved online presence.
  • There is a high dependency on out of pocket payments to cover dental treatment and talking about finances with a patient can be uncomfortable for both practitioner and patient. It is important to identify if a patient will need a payment plan early on in the consultation process and then present more details in a sensitive, timely manner as trust is built and the patient’s concern increases.

Want to learn more about how these leading businesses can help you attract, engage and retain patients? Check out their websites below:

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