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How to increase patient volume in a dental practice
Patient volume is what keeps your dental practice alive. You’ve put time and effort into providing the best patient experience possible, with each dentist and hygienist giving top-quality dental care. But unless enough people discover your practice, it can be hard to find the revenue to stay open, no matter how good the care is.
For this reason, it’s essential that you understand how to increase patient volume in a dental practice. In fact, the State of the Dental Industry study by Vyne revealed 44% of practices consider patient volume their No. 1 challenge in 2021. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding drops in patient numbers, this is more pressing than ever before. The following strategies can shape your approach to marketing your practice, providing a positive patient experience, creating educational content and more.
Attracting new dental patients
Potential new patients have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a dental practice. This means you have to make your marketing dollars work hard for you, putting them into the areas where they’ll do the most good, from direct outreach to social media posts.
Dental practice marketing and promotion today are diverse, wide-ranging fields. Considering how tech-savvy and self-guided today’s customers are, it’s clear you’ll have to go beyond standard advertising buys to make an impact. Dentistry IQ recommends embracing search engine optimisation and creating a strong website that will help new and potential patients get a quick, accurate and appealing overview of your business. You can also focus on favoured social media channels to make contact.
Beyond your direct marketing efforts, you have extra options to make your dental practice more visible to a prospective patient: You can partner up with dental directories to help people find you. When you list your dental practice in a search directory or work with a payment plan provider, you open up your services to a new audience. For instance, Patient Discovery, a feature of eAppointments Online Booking, can expose your dental practice to 1.8 million potential new patients, by listing your practice on multiple Australian dental directories for free.
Improving the dental patient experience for better retention
Keeping dental patient volume strong isn’t just about bringing in new people. Your existing patients are the bedrock of your dental practice’s profitability, and the experience you provide can help you keep retention rates high. You should take an organised and data-driven approach to patient experience management, with visibility into what people think and a variety of communication methods.
Be ready to talk to your patients through the channel of their choice, to make staying in touch as convenient and painless as possible. This may include going through multiple channels, with traditional mail being a resilient favourite among consumers. Australia Post research found 99% of Australians open their physical mail, while 54% store it for future reference. When receiving detailed information, 46% of people prefer the post, while 25% want an email and 24% choose both.
While it pays to prioritise top communication channels for dental marketing, the real important part is to stick with the methods that work best for each individual patient. Do you have the capacity to use direct mail, text, email or phone as needed? Is your patient database complete enough that you know which patient prefers each method? D4W Marketing, integrated with Dental4Windows, is a way to keep in touch across every channel and optimise dental marketing.
Other ways to boost patient satisfaction revolve around paperwork and booking. If you offer a technology-enabled process for filling out important forms and making appointments, you’re taking away a potential site of friction between you and your patients. These eServices make up another useful feature of Dental4Windows.
Providing top-quality dental patient education
One particular element of the patient experience stands out, with its own challenges and solutions: patient education. A dentist informing your patients about treatment options in ways that are comprehensive but not overwhelming can increase their confidence and trust, boosting treatment plan acceptance.
Writing for Dental Economics, dental psychologist Gordon Christensen pointed out that a lack of good patient education could generate anxiety and doubt, as people wonder whether the treatments they’ve selected are their best option. This uncertainty is not the mark of a good patient relationship. It’s hard to imagine keeping your patient volume high in such circumstances.
Good patient education can take many forms, occurring throughout patients’ interactions with your practice. Teaching multiple staff members the ins and outs of procedures lets them teach and reassure patients. A website filled with educational content helps returning and new patients perform self-guided research about their options. Digital video content displayed in waiting areas creates an environment that passively informs patients of their options, boosting their confidence. Even explanations given directly to patients by the dentist while they are in the surgery chair can be more convincing when accompanied by compelling digital content.
Running your dental practice more effectively
Effective workflows at your dental practice are the glue that holds operations together. If your dental practice is efficient and precise in the way it handles record-keeping, scheduling and clinical tasks including imaging, you can set the business up for success.
Relying on too many manual, paper-based processes can slow down your dental practice’s operations, limiting efficiency and making it hard to optimally fill your dentists’ and hygienists’ schedules. Digital back-office processes allow you to see and communicate with more patients more effectively, with less wasted effort and reduced risk of human error.
With streamlined, digital workflows, you can deliver the kind of patient experience people will respond to positively. In a time when patient volume is such a pressing concern for dental practices, it’s hard to beat this combination of effectively serving more patients and providing an experience that will keep them satisfied and loyal.
When the question is how to increase patient volume in a dental practice, the answer is multifaceted. All those various process improvements come from a single, centralised source: your choice of practice management software. This is where Dental4Windows and the online Dental4Web can revolutionise your practice.
Enquire now to learn how these technological solutions can put your practice on the road to better patient volume.
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