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July 2017

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Company News

Making Your Dental Website Accessible

Over the past year, inquires have surfaced about the need for dental practice websites to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (AwDA).

In fact, in the fall of 2016 numerous dental and medical practices received letters from attorneys threatening legal action if the practice did not update their website to be AwDA compliant. Earlier this year, the American Dental Association issued a write-up about how to ensure your practice’s website meets the requirements of Accessibility for disabled persons.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides that “[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

A dental practice is considered a place of public accommodation, as is the access to information about the practice via its website. The World Wide Web Consortium provides guidelines for making a website accessible to those with disabilities, which include considerations such as:

  • The website should provide alternate descriptions of graphical elements
  • The website should properly format forms that require user input so fields can be identified by screen readers
  • Tables that contain data should include column and row headers
  • The website should embed closed captioning or another means to ensure deaf or hearing-impaired users can understand a website’s audio content
  • The website should have high-contrast between background and text colors

At ProSites, we recently launched a new Accessibility option for all of our dentists. This new feature is included with every website at no additional charge. It is optional to implement and designed to meet the requirements of Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

When the feature is enabled, an Accessibility tab is visible on all web pages. If a user selects this tab, they will be taken to an accessible version of the website.  They also note that enabling the Accessibility Mode will not impact the standard operation or appearance of the website.

To learn how to implement this new feature on your website, click here. If you have additional questions about this feature, please contact ProSites at (888) 932-3644. 

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Social Media

5 Times You Should Communicate with Patients and How to Get It Done

Instagram showcases what your neighbor had for dinner. Facebook details the life of your 9th grade best friend. Snapchat shares pieces of an evolving story – but only for a second, and texts have all but eliminated the need for actual phone conversation. With all of this, is lack of communication still a “thing”? When it comes to patient communication, it is.

The benefits of patient communication have been extolled time and again, but understanding what you should do and actually doing it are two very different things (refer to that exercise bike turned clothes hanger). Sometimes the very concept of patient communication can be overwhelming. Does your practice need a formal plan? How much is too much? You talk to patients regularly – is that enough? So, like the personal training session you got last Christmas, the idea remains on the peripheral but nothing really comes of it.

The key to implementing anything new, whether it’s an exercise plan or a patient communication strategy, is to break it down into digestible pieces (we’re talking donut hole, not entire cake). To help you in this effort, we’ve highlighted a few opportunities for patient communication that you might not currently be leveraging.

1. Reminders – patients need them. People get busy – there are calendars to be juggled, deadlines to be met and only 24 hours in a day. Given everything vying for your patients’ attention, it’s no wonder that bi-annual hygiene visits fall to the bottom of the list. Enter dental patient reminders. Don’t worry, the passive aggressive type your well-meaning sibling uses (i.e. Did you ever use that training session?) generally isn’t warranted. Often, all a patient needs to stay on track is a quick appointment reminder.

Don’t want to task your front desk staff with making endless reminder phone calls? Good – that’s not what your patients want either. In a recent Hanover Research study, 80% of patients said they preferred text or email reminders over calls. How do you accommodate this preference? Using an automated patient communication system is a great way to deliver consistent communications that align with patient preferences, reinforce your practice’s high-tech image, and reduce no-shows.  While we can’t reap the benefits of cardio by pressing a button yet, dental practices can automate the majority of patient outreach.

2. Birthdays – everybody’s got one. Although some patients, like the kid sporting an “I am 7”shirt, are more vocal about them than others, a warm birthday greeting is generally welcome. No need to send a case of protein bars, birthday wishes sent via text, email, or old school greeting card can help strengthen patient relationships and keep you top-of-mind between scheduled appointments. Worried about execution? Unlike maintaining proper form throughout that Body Pump class, an automated patient communication system makes it easy to ensure every patient gets a personalized birthday message.

3. Post-procedure instructions – because no one remembers. According to the National Institute of Health , dentists’ recall of consultations is different than that of patients. In the majority of cases studied, patients were unable to accurately recall dental health advice or recommended actions. Sound familiar? Oh, 30 minutes of exercise daily– I thought you said three.  Providing detailed follow-up care instructions is the best way to ensure patients adhere to post-procedure guidelines, which reduces the risk of complications. Additionally, it shows that you care about your patients’ wellbeing.

4. Information – you’ve got it. When you work hard at something it’s ok to be a little braggadocios (#Down10Pounds), especially when patients reap the benefits (#ExpandedOfficeHours). Let current and prospective patients know that you invest in your practice. Growing your team, accepting new insurance plans, adding new technology, or offering promotions are all opportunities to communicate with current and prospective patients. After all, if you don’t tell them who will?

5. Patient reviews – you want them.  According to Dentistry IQ , 70% of dental patients said that online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of dentist. So, aside from delivering the best patient experience possible, how do you get more positive online reviews? Step 1) Ask. Step 2) Make it easy.

It’s not that your satisfied patients don’t want to leave a review, it’s just that they probably don’t think about it. People are busy and as soon as they set their next appointment, they’re out the door and onto the next thing on the list. You’ll be surprised at what a simple ask can do. Try sending a follow-up email with a link to your website’s Reviews page and/or other review sites like Yelp and Google +.

At this point you might be thinking, “Sure, there are numerous opportunities to communicate with patients – but still only 24 hours in a day. How am I supposed to do this in addition to treating patients?” Many patient communications can be automated, and even those that are handled manually (i.e. announcing new office hours) will soon be routine if you make information sharing standard protocol. Still not sure how to get started? Reach out to an Internet Marketing Advisor at 888-932-3644 for help creating a patient communication strategy and details on ProSites’ PracticeMojo automated patient communication solution. Trust us – it’ll be easier than leg day. 

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Website Design

Reputation Management vs. Marketing

Any seasoned dentist probably hears the words reputation management and immediately thinks of that one 1-star Yelp review that seems to haunt them. A quick search through dental forums reveals the frustration that most dentists feel when speaking about reviews. Ironically, reputation management has developed a “bad rep” because small business owners don’t think about it until they’ve been hit with a scathing review.

However, most dentists overlook how to harness the power of their reviews through reputation marketing. While reputation management has become synonymous with PR crisis managementreputation marketing allows you to harness the power of online reviews to promote a positive image for your dental practice using three components:

  1. Monitoring: find what your patients are saying
  2. Acquisition: collecting reviews
  3. Amplification: using reviews in your marketing

Monitoring. This is a no-brainer; your dental practice needs to know what patients are saying about you. While there are several pricey automated solutions out there that can help you keep track, it is possible to find this information yourself for free by using Google alerts and claiming your online profiles on the top review sites for dentists. These include:

Pro-tip: use an email address that several people can access to claim the listing. This way, when you get an alert saying you have a new review, someone at your office can respond in a timely manner.

Acquisition. There are several things dentists can do to garner reviews responsibly. Most times, all you have to do is ask. Consider training your staff to ask patients how their appointment went before they leave your practice. This way, if they had a great experience, it’s an easy conversation to ask them to leave a review online. On the contrary, if they had a poor experience, your staff can address issues immediately rather than hearing about it online.

Amplification. This is where reputation management differs from reputation marketing. While reputation management focuses on suppressing negative reviews through monitoring and acquiring new reviews, reputation marketing focuses on amplifying positive reviews you already have. The easiest way to do this is by using ProSites’ free Reputation Marketing tool to help you collect and showcase positive reviews on your dental practice website. You can also include your best patient testimonials on practice marketing materials such emails, post cards, webpages, and social media.

Take charge of your online reputation and set yourself apart from competitors. To find out how ProSites can help you garner more positive patient reviews directly on your website, visit www.ProSites.com or call (888) 932-3644.

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Website Design

Secrets to Eliminate Patient Cancellations

No-shows and last-minute cancellations are inevitable from time-to-time, but they can have a significant financial impact on your practice. Luckily, there are ways that you can reduce the impact to your practice through these tips.

1. Identify why patients are cancelling. If patients call-in to cancel often, find out if there’s a bigger reason behind it. Was there a recent change in your insurance policies? Schedules? If you can identify the root cause, it can help you solve the overall problem.

2. Set automated dental patient reminders. Remind patients a month, week and day before their appointment. Include the date, time and even location of your practice for convenience, and utilize various communication channels to effectively reach patients (e.g. text, email and phone calls).

3. Establish cancellation policies. Whether you decide to charge for same-day cancellations or have a limit on how many times a year you’ll allow a patient to cancel their appointment, it’s fair to have boundaries within reason.

4. Expand your hours. Many patients are extremely busy and don’t have time during their work day for a dentist appointment. Consider office hours outside of the standard 9-to-5 and weekends. Plus, this flexibility will help you stand apart from other competitors.

5. Confirm appointments. In addition to automated reminders, make sure patients confirm their appointment either by replying to a text, clicking a link in an email, or confirming with your office staff.

For more ideas and tips on how to improve patient communications and reduce no-shows, download our latest whitepaper, How to Keep More Patients with Less Workhere.

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