Leading a dental practice usually means having to juggle between staff and patient satisfaction. If you have a dental practice, or maybe manage one, this issue will definitely hit close to home.
How can you keep patient experience on a high level and manage your workforce while scaling and growing your dental office at the same time?
Luckily, today’s technology advances allow for a more streamlined and automated process, taking trivial day-to-day tasks off your staff’s hands and letting tools take care of them. This way you give your staff time to focus on what matters most—your patients.
Let’s see how 2021 is developing for dentistry and what you can do to scale your dental practice this year.
Strong Company Culture and Patient-Centric Values
A shout out to all dental practice owners out there—the success of your dental practice business directly correlates with your ability to make both your staff and clients happy.
The best way to do that is to lead by example. And not just you. Your entire team should be on board and share the same values regarding workplace etiquette and dealing with patients. Doing this will create a feeling of belonging in a company, which is crucial to decreasing employee turnover.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot in workforce management. Most notably, it unraveled a need to give more power to your staff. Employers are becoming aware that they’re not paying for seat warmers, but a job well done.
More than 66% of workers think flexibility is the top benefit of shift working! As a dental practice owner, this should give you a clear picture of the importance of incorporating flexible schedules.
Automated and Digitized Daily Operations
On the subject of keeping your staff happy, our first tip is to keep up with the latest workforce management technologies. There are quite a few tools out there that can simplify repetitive administrative tasks and let your staff focus on patient care.
The idea behind automation and digitalization in workforce management is to reduce the possibility of human error and create a more agile and efficient dental practice where your staff can provide outstanding patient care instead of doing paperwork.
Next, instead of filling out patient registration forms in person, you can introduce digital forms that your patients can fill out and submit through your website before coming in for their appointment. Doing so will reduce reception waiting time and prevent an overcrowded waiting room.
Another area you can automate is appointment reminders and follow-up emails or text messages. These reminders will help you avoid no-shows, but sending them out is a time-consuming task that’s better left to technology.
A Centralized and Streamlined Workflow
Having a centralized communication channel is crucial for ensuring everyone is up to date. It doesn’t matter if your staff members are in the office, on the go, or temporarily in isolation. They should always stay connected.
Apart from organized internal communication, you’ll also need to have structured job roles and responsibilities. Each staff member has to know:
- What their function and position is in the company
- Where they are in the organizational hierarchy: who their superior/subordinate is
- How to access data or files necessary for their daily work
- What channels to use for internal versus external communication
- Who their contact person is for questions in different areas, such as HR or finances
Finally, you’ll need a centralized storage location to access patient records and other documentation, with designated staff access. Preferably, upload and keep your files in a cloud instead of the usual file cabinets or local devices. It will help you prevent unauthorized access and accidental file loss or misplacement.
Enhance Patient Experience and Convenience
Expanding your service range to fit different patient needs will significantly improve your patient experience. But, be realistic when it comes to skills and capacity. Try not to spread yourself too thin, and don’t exhaust your staff. The bulletproof way to expand your service range is by asking your patients what they need and checking out what your competitors offer.
Next, try to improve the ease of communication and appointment-setting. Make it possible to book an appointment via a text message instead of by calling. Text messages (SMS) have an incredible 95% open rate, while emails have only 18%. Plus, an SMS from your dentist feels so much more personal than an email.
Or, why not provide online booking on your website? It will be more convenient for your patients, decreasing the workload of your staff at the same time.
Lastly, offer different payment methods such as paying in installments and the possibility to pay with a card, cash, or check. In dentistry, money can be a genuine concern, so offering various financing options will immensely help your patients. Think of it this way. Your patients definitely won’t come back if they cannot afford your treatment.
Continuous Staff and Patient Education
Don’t underestimate the power of continuous education. Investing in your employees through different seminars or training will increase staff satisfaction and reduce employee turnover. That, in turn, will decrease recruiting and onboarding costs, saving you money in the long run.
Quality employees will want to advance, not just vertically within your dental practice, but also in their skills and future possibilities. So, give them the chance to do that.
However, it’s not just staff education that matters. Educating patients in a language that’s approachable and easy to understand is also vital for your dental practice. Patient education is one of the best ways to take the fear out of the entire “going to the dentist” moment. The best way to give value to your patients is by creating helpful content.
Being consistent in sharing valuable content will help you acquire new and retain current patients. For example, write blog posts on different topics, share them on your social media accounts, and create brochures, infographics, or even short, bite-sized educational videos.
Up Your Digital Marketing Game
Having an established online presence is of utmost importance if you wish to keep up with dentistry trends in 2021. Remember that your voice and branding should be consistent throughout all social media channels. You have to stay recognizable.
First, develop your unique selling proposition (USP). What value do you give to your patients? What makes you different from the rest? Why should they come to you?
Once you can elevator-pitch your practice, it’s time to check if your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Ensure you have a section with patient reviews since “social proof” is a powerful marketing weapon.
The next thing you can try is email marketing to improve the doctor-patient relationship. But don’t spam your patients. Instead, send them content that will be of value. Doing this will create trust and make your patients see you as an authority in the dental world.
And finally, always give value to your patients. As we’ve mentioned above, you can start a blog to educate your patients about common dental problems and concerns. Helpful content is the best way to gain your patients’ trust and loyalty.
Given these points, we feel it’s obligatory to mention patient and staff safety as an area that’s not new, but should be reinforced now more than ever.
From following COVID-19 protocols to sterilization and correct patient histories, the health and safety of your patients and staff should always remain your priority.
In this area, your goal should be to minimize the possibility of any adverse occurrence. You can do that by setting clear quality and safety standards that you and your staff will maintain consistently. You’ll notice that this will also make patients feel safer coming into your dental practice.
Hopefully, now you can find that golden middle ground and organize your dental practice in a way that provides the both of best worlds—happy staff and satisfied customers.
Mr. Press is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general. He can be reached at linkedin.com/in/seosydney/.