Written by Sally McKenzie, CMC Tuesday, 30 April 2002 19:00
You’ve got a captive audience out there. Patient loyalty is yours for the taking, as is allegiance from your staff, and referral sources, too. You just have to play your hand right. Thanks to your computer and its cyber-connections, you’re wired to win. The acid test, though, is how effectively your practice is getting the right information to the right people at the right time, so they can take the right action.
Having only scratched the surface of e-mail and Internet usage in dentistry, the industry now offers some highly specialized professional applications. Some of the more routine professional-to-professional applications deal with communication between the practice and professional referral source. Thanks to today’s technology, virtually all patient reports, charts, images, and/or x-rays can be sent through cyberspace via e-mail. If you consider the workflow created by referral from one professional office to another, it often borders on the absurd. Charts need to be copied, reports need to be generated, x-rays need to be duplicated (with resolution typically lost in the process), and finally, all of it needs to be put into an envelope with some cardboard buffers to keep it from getting damaged, then addressed, stamped, and mailed. But that’s only half the hassle.
DO YOU SEE A WEB SITE IN YOUR FUTURE?
Because you’re not about to do a root canal over the World Wide Web, nor walk a patient through a self-extraction using a piece of string and a doorknob, why would you need a website? What could it possibly do for your practice? Instead of trying to divine the answers through some cyber-psychic, research it like you would any other capital investment. Rather than advising you on whether or not you should have a website, what I’d like to do next is address several points that would be important should you decide to go ahead with a “presence” on the “information superhighway.”
Interactive scheduling to allow patients to schedule their appointments online (this, of course, is based on the assumption that patients have copies of their treatment plans, complete with the amount of time needed for each appointment).
Secure, integrated system by which a patient can enter his name and password to retrieve his account balance and even pay his bill online.
Links for each dentist in the practice whereby the patient just needs to click the link to send an e-mail directly to the dentist.
Links to information on specific topics such as “Root Canal Therapy: What to Expect.”
- New patient forms that patients can fill out online and e-mail back. This keeps patients from having to spend an extra 15 or so frustrating minutes in the reception room, trying to juggle a clipboard—and perhaps a baby or toddler—just to fill out the endless paperwork. And think of the time/motion efficiency of this. Rather than your patient scribbling what often turns out to be unreadable info, and your business staff having to try to decipher it so that the data can be entered into your management system, you ask the patient to fill out the form online and send it. All your staff needs to do is transfer it from e-mail into the patient’s record in the management system. Positively brilliant.
Finally—and this should go without saying—if you plan to develop a website, make very sure that you’re dealing with a company that has the skills and experience to create a site that is first and foremost technically sound. You can’t afford to have your information technology gummed up by either misinformation or malfunction. Several of the management system vendors offer website development—with patient-integrated modules—as well as hosting services.
Ms. McKenzie is a certified management consultant and a nationally-known lecturer, author, and consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. She is president of McKenzie Management and Associates, which provides in-office analysis of the business, clinical, and hygiene department; conducts on-site staff training; and offers a full line of educational management books, audiotapes, and videos. Since opening McKenzie Management in 1979, Sally has developed the most expedient practice systems, methods, and technologies as well as the most effective management approaches for the dental practice. Additionally, Ms. McKenzie’s 34 years of experience and expertise are now available as on-tap resources for her new ventures: practicemanagement-online.com and dentalcareerdevelop.com. To receive Sally’s FREE practice management-online (PMOL) e-newsletter or her weekly Monday Morning Management Memorandum via e-mail, call Sally toll-free at (877) 777-6151, or sign up at either of these websites: www.mckenziemgmt.com; or www.practicemanagement-online.com.
- Clinical Update
- CE Articles
- Dental Materials
- Dental Medicine
- Digital Impression Technology
- Forensic Dentistry
- Geriatric Dentistry
- Infection Control
- Interdisciplinary Dentistry
- New Directions
- Practice Management
- Oral Cancer Screening
- Oral Medicine
- Oral-Systemic connection
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Pain Management
- Post-and-Core Technique
- Sleep Disorders
- Sports Dentistry
- Technique of the Week
- Treatment Planning