It’s Not Over. Patient Communication Needed Now

Dental friends and colleagues, production trends for dental practices across the country “seem” to be stabilizing and that’s a good thing. But it’s not over.

Many patients and consumers are still trepidatious about heading back to the dentist.

Just today I was talking with an employee after she emailed me to say, “Gulp, I’m nervous” about a pending dental appointment. I reassured her about my experience – I was first to go the moment I had a chance and it was easy-peasy (https://patientnews.com/about-us/blog/i-went-to-the-dentist-after-covid/). But still, 2 months after re-opening, she was nervous but going – BUT her husband, who was also booked to go at the same time, canceled his appointment.

In the same household, a couple, with one “yes” and one not even considering. You’re probably seeing a lot of this at your dental office.

I recently chatted with Dr. Christopher Phelps about his experience at his office. Business is booming, he said, as it has been for most dentists he’d heard from since opening. He feels, though, that this is giving a false sense of security.

Dr. Phelps expects a gap in production when risk-tolerant patients run out before risk-averse patients feel comfortable coming back. Risk-tolerant are those who aren’t fussy about your precautions and are eager to get in. The problem is, he says, when will the risk averse feel safe enough to come back in? We posted his article Marketing in Post COVID-19 on Facebook on July 1st.

So, considering all this – are your production numbers where you want them to be? Will they stick?

Do you want to be more proactive in securing patient activity?

Consistent and regular communication has always been, and now more than ever will be, the key to bridging the gap, securing long-term practice revenues, and bolstering the value of your practice.

Some offices have been reluctant to jump back into new-patient marketing – but without getting risk-tolerant new patients in, a swing down in production is likely to occur when pent-up demand of risk-tolerant patients fizzles, and risk-averse active patients delay treatment. And don’t forget, new patients contribute 2X-3X production value to the topline. Dental offices need a steady flow of new dental patients coming back in to maintain – and hopefully grow – monthly production.

If you don’t have a firm patient communication strategy set in place, if practice value is important to you, or you just know you need to do something to secure your production flow, schedule a 20-minute consulting call to discuss your situation. We can help you enhance communications with patients, refresh your digital presence, and differentiate your practice in your community to help attract new patients.

Communicate With Active Patients:

  • Maintain (or launch) a monthly email patient newsletter with quality educational information. This will help your name stay present in patient homes in a value-added way. We can help with set-it-and-forget-it, great-quality, educational emails or custom emails using our “email anything anytime” module.
  • Maintain (or launch) a bi-monthly or quarterly mailed patient newsletter. Mailing your communications will ensure you reach 100% of your patients, in their homes, where they feel comfortable and safe. Your reassuring messages and information about their safety will begin to educate the risk-averse patient and give them the confidence they need to start returning.
  • Get (or continue to be) active on social. Remember social is for entertainment and fun, and those posts will get you the most likes, laughs & loves – but it’s also a place to reassure patients with relevant posts about the precautions you’re taking, pictures of patients feeling great in your office, and video messages from the team. It’s a great platform. Assign a team lead for social and let them go.
  • Work on generating more positive patient reviews. Ask patients to post positive reviews about their recent experience at your practice. How they felt, the safety, the precautions, and that it didn’t take a lot of extra time. Recency of reviews is important for new patients who will look online for more information about you when deciding whether to choose your practice or not. Ask about Review BOOSTER, best-in-class review software.
  • Has there been an increase of unemployment in your area? Is your area full of boomers? If you have an in-house membership plan, this can be positioned as a competitive advantage and something you’re doing to help people get the care they need. And membership patients always contribute more revenue to the practice than non-insured patients. Ask about our DMP Booster, best-in-class, and the only one of its kind, in-house membership plan promotional tool – that you don’t have to deal with! Works with Kleer, Boomcloud, QDP, Illumitrac – ANY membership plan tool you use, including your own home-grown version.

Communicate With New Patients:

Without a consistent patient communication plan (as noted above), there will be a lot of people living in your area who aren’t sure what’s happening with their previous dentist who will be looking for an office that is proactive. If practice transitions are taking place, patients may be up for grabs. The practice that is consistently visible, that provides authoritative content, and that offers regular educational content and information is the practice that will attract quality people who want to prioritize their dental health – and who people will contact for their next appointment.

Remember – it’s proven – new patients will contribute DOUBLE THE PRODUCTION to your annual revenue, so you WANT to get new patients back on your roster in a big way.

  • Activate a monthly dental newsletter campaign to targeted households surrounding your practice. There is a good opportunity right now to gain market share. Many dental offices haven’t communicated with their patients-of-record, or their efforts have been to cherry-pick their way through missed appointments and pain patients.
  • Launch a paid media (PPC for dentists) campaign. Multiply your results from your direct mail and website campaigns with a targeted online ad campaign. To actively seek new patients, you need to be visible wherever they are looking. Remember, the patient journey doesn’t start with search, so a multi-channel approach to new-patient marketing is important. So while direct mail reaches 100% of your targeted households and is a more proactive approach – one that nurtures and creates the patient need – you also want to be visible online when area residents search for “dentist near me” or “teeth whitening near me.” Online advertising makes sure you’re seen when a patient has a need and doesn’t have your newsletter in hand!

It’s not over. It’s only begun. Aside from crisis communications, many dental offices have not prioritized relationship-marketing for patients or new patients in the COVID-19 world we’re living in. Reorganization of priorities, getting staff back, re-scheduling patients, and adjusting PPE and protocols all have taken the focus off patient communication. Like our team at Patient NEWS, you’ve done your best to navigate and pivot through the pandemic – but now, it’s time for action.

A recent industry survey indicated that two-thirds of dentists plan to invest as much or more on marketing in the coming year. Are you one of those or do you need to re-evaluate your immediate dental marketing strategies?

There is a tremendous opportunity for your dental office to increase patient flow and production with an effective patient communication strategy.

We help dentists plan, develop, implement, and optimize practice and marketing success. If any of these are needed at your practice, we would love to schedule a 20-minute consulting call to hear about your situation at no charge.

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