Friday, April 5, 2013

Are You Texting Yet?

“Please thank Dr. Alas for remembering my birthday.”

We get this a lot at my office. How do we do it? My office , admittedly, is not the most high-tech office out there. You won’t see it featured in any of the dental publications as “Office of the Year.” We don’t have digital x-rays. We still use paper charts, and you won’t see a Cerec machine anywhere near my office. But the important thing is that my patients view me as being very high-tech and up-to-date.

How do we get so many compliments about our office being high-tech? Get the patient where they are. Literally. If you have not yet begun using text reminders in your office, get ready to make a phone call to sign up.

Using text reminders, you can reach patients on their cell phones while they are at the store, their kids’ school, or the gym. Wherever they happen to be, you are there too! These days, people live their lives staring at their phones. Even while they are sitting in your dental chair! (That is a topic for another blog.) Imagine not having to leave messages on answering machines that may or may not be retrieved.

Let’s assume it is 8:15 a.m., and you have a hygiene cancellation for 10 a.m. How quickly can you fill that? Our record is 30 seconds. Yes, that’s seconds, not minutes. Our average is about 2 minutes. We maintain a list of people who ask us to call them when we have any openings. I’m sure your office also maintains such a list. But rather than making several phone calls chasing people down, we send a group text and the first one that calls back gets the appointment! How long does it take you to fill that appointment?

The use that really gets us the compliments is reminding our patients about their appointments. We remind our patients two weeks before their appointment and then again two days prior to their visit. We used to send postcards to remind patients of their hygiene appointments. The cost of the texting service is offset by no longer purchasing and mailing postcards. With postage rates so high these days, the service pays for itself with the savings in postage.

Instead of having the patient fill out a postcard after each recall appointment, we make their six month appointment in our regular practice management software. That’s it! Two weeks prior and then two days before their appointment, the computer automatically reminds them!

How does all of this work? The texting computer program connects to your practice management software automatically. It gathers the appointment times and sends each patient a text reminder. On the patient’s end, they can press ‘yes’ to confirm or ‘no’ to let you know that they’ll need to reschedule. All of this happens automatically. You receive an email letting you know the patient’s choice. If they need to reschedule, you simply text them back from your computer to find a more convenient time.

The best endorsement this system has received is from my front office manager. She has jokingly (I hope, told me she would quit if I ever got rid of this service. After more than 30 years, she swears that this is one change that has been a quantum leap in making her job easier.

Finally, the computer sends a patient a message on their birthday. Patients love this feature. It surprises me still that patients call us up and say, “Please thank Dr. Alas for remembering my birthday.”

Do your practice a favor and start texting!

Andy Alas, DDS


Edward Logan said...

What texting service do you use?

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