I was really having writer’s block for this post until this morning. I thought about voicing my frustrations with the weather this week. We had to close the office Monday due to the snow and ice that blew in on Sunday night, causing all the schools in the area to close. When that happens, we have found that we might as well close the office, too, because the staff with school children need a solution, many of our patients are of the age in which they don’t need to be traversing the roads and sidewalks, and I even welcome the rare event to stay home. So, I won’t complain about the subsequent cancellations and no-shows for the past two days that the office has been open. I’ve always heard that the best way to find out who your friends are is to complain about your problems.
I would like to talk about something that might help our Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) members. I have a young patient that is moving out of state. We saw her for a procedure this morning and she is need of some restorative care now for which we will not be able to provide before she moves. I decided to help her out by searching for AGD member dentists in her upcoming new location, and I made some interesting discoveries.
First, I went to the AGD website, www.agd.org, and did a search for dentists in the area. The new site is very easy to use and by merely entering the city and state, I was able to locate about 20 dentists in the city boundaries of her new home. I found two offices that looked promising for her, based on her needs and the information on the practice websites. She was impressed with the ability to do this, not to mention appreciative of my efforts on her behalf. I did the search chairside while waiting for her anesthetic to take effect, so little “extra” time was spent (besides, my schedule is quite open today). I was surprised to find that only a few of the AGD dentists listed had websites. The two choices I recommended to her did have websites. Enough said?
Second, I showed her how to get to the AGD website on her own in order to do her own search, and also so she could see the educational areas for patients. I also familiarized her with our website. While I was doing this, my two assistants commented that it had been a while since they had looked at our office website. I suddenly realized that I, as well, had been negligent in reviewing my own site and that I needed to do that on a regular basis. Living in a university town, there is a high turnover of young patients who search for most everything via the Internet, and we are finding more of our new patients, of all ages, turning to the Internet first to search for services. Many of those find their way to our website, so we need to keep it up-to-date.
Probably if you’re reading this, I’m preaching to the choir. The AGD has done a great job with the organization’s website. It has many valuable resources for members and patients. Make a point to visit it and become familiar with it. If you’re already doing so, encourage your AGD friends to start using it. If you know dentists who are not AGD members, show them the site and use it as a good recruitment tool. Some of the dentists who I noticed in my search did not have websites listed. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have one, but they may have failed to update their AGD profile with the website addresses. So, check your profile to see if your website is there and if you don’t have a website, seriously consider getting one. Don’t forget to keep your website current with new procedures and services as you add them.
I am going to make it a rule to review our website monthly during a staff meeting to be sure everyone in the office is engaged with the site. I also am going to be sure that they are familiar with the AGD site, as well as any other organizational site that I have access to. With the flood of information available today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re drowning. I intend to attempt more than just tread water. I want to get a speed boat!
I apologize to my colleagues in the north and northeast for my whininess about the weather. I understand that Punxsutawney Phil has a bounty on his head.
Looking forward to spring,
Terry G. Box, DDS, MAGD