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Navigating the Log Jam at Your Front Desk

May 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mayer A. Levitt, DMD @ 9:09 am

Every dentist wants to attract more customers. New patients are the lifeblood of a successful practice. A referral from an existing patient is the ultimate compliment and hopefully the main source of how new people find you. But the next largest path for new patients to enter your practice is from the Internet. Someone does a Google search for a dentist in their area and hopefully lands on your website. To make an appointment, they are prompted to call the office.

Reality check. The front desk of a dental office often feels like the busiest place on the planet. Phones ringing. Patients being checked in and out. Treatment plans being discussed while appropriate financial arrangements are arranged. So when a new patient calls from the website to schedule an appointment, instead of always being greeted by a friendly talented staff member on the second ring – the preferred outcome – they often get shunted into the dreaded phone tree. And after pushing five different buttons, that prospective might still end up listening to a message machine that says “we are in the office but busy assisting other patients. Please leave your information and we will call you back.” Not a good way to start a relationship!

Factor in some other statistics. According to an Accenture 2013 consumer survey, 38% of all appointments are scheduled after hours or on weekends or when an office is closed. 20% of all new patient phone calls end as hang ups on voice message systems. 81% of people would prefer to make an appointment on line rather than speak to someone at an office. It should be apparent that the telephone as the entry path for a new patient to schedule an appointment presents a lot of problems.

I would suggest that you consider using a company called LocalMed. LocalMed was started four years ago by an entrepreneur named Keith English. The company now works with almost 1500 dental practices in the United States. LocalMed is a website plug-in for dental websites that allows patients to find and make dental appointments at a date and time that works for them. This innovative software integrates seamlessly with the major dental practice management platforms like Dentrix, Open Dental, Eaglesoft, and Softdent. LocalMed  can actually read the practice management software to find open appointments in real time. It then combines the dental practices unique scheduling rules and insurance participation to provide the patient with an appointment time that works for them. Making a dental appointment is now as easy as making a dinner reservation on Open Table!

As soon as an appointment is scheduled online, LocalMed sends an email to the front desk with all of the contact information for that patient. The office, if they wish, can then reach out to that patient at the appropriate time by telephone to welcome them to the practice and establish a personal touch.

I have spoken with a number of dental practices that have been using this service for over one year. I heard universal satisfaction with the results and even more enthusiasm for the level of customer service provided. There is a one time start up fee of $990 and then a cost of $249/month. No contract – you can cancel at any time. I love that approach as you have very little risk. After a  30 minute initial telephone call, the program can be installed and ready to go live in 48 hours. LocalMed is HIPAA compliant and all communications are sent to the practice in an encrypted manner. Call Sally Weiss or Joe Chickerillo at 888-203-7531 for more information on how this revolutionary program can help your dental practice.

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