Like the tides, there’s an ebb and flow to dental appointments for practices due to the seasons and their influences on the lives and behaviors of patients. Late summer, for example, can be the busiest time of year for many dental practices as families move back into back-to-school mode. Other times can be slower. Yet seasonal slowdowns do not have to be an inevitability. To help minimize the ebbs while optimizing the flows, here are some seasonal patient communication strategies to maximize dental appointments and revenue:
Most dental insurance plans include two preventive visits for patients per year. Reaching out to patients early in the year gives them time to schedule their first preventive care appointment before summer arrives, kids are out of school, and families get busy with vacations and other summer activities. Reaching out early also gives patients time to schedule their second preventive care appointment during an insurance plan’s allocated timeframe.
The earlier in the year you launch such communications, the more success you’ll realize.
Samsung recently found that smartphone use increases by 42% in summer, which makes sense. When summer vacations, daytrips to the beach, and other activities lock in for patients and they’re on the go more than at other times of the year, patients are looking to get away from laptops and other devices to check for patient communications and other emails.
Patients, of course, can check emails on their smartphones. Yet checking emails is largely an action they must perform, meaning something to do, and they’re on vacation. They looking to not do things. So, sending out appointment reminders and other patient communications solely by email do not lend themselves to immediate action when you have an immediate need to fill up your production schedule.
When your patient communication system includes text messaging, messages do not require much action for patients to see your communications. Texts simply arrive and announce themselves (often musically, depending on a patient’s ringtone). Moreover, many patients prefer text messages throughout the year, and they’re shown to reduce no-shows:
- 55% of patients (including dental patients) prefer text communications by healthcare providers (DentistryIQ)
- Comparing email appointment reminders versus text messaging, studies by The Angle Orthodontist found text messaging had the lowest no-show rate of 1.9%.
Patients also respond quickly to texts. Studies show that 90% of text messages are read within three minutes, and the average response times for a text message is 90 seconds.
So, in summer, increased smartphone use, patient preferences for text messaging, and fast response times mean greater patient reach in summer. Plus, the immediacy of texts helps dental practices fill last-minute appointment cancellations by letting other patients know there’s an open spot.
To do this, the conversation must be a two-way street, and it all must be simple for dental practices to manage. That’s why practices choose the complete patient communication system by ProSites, with easy-to-use two-way text messaging solutions built right in to reach patients any time.
On average, practices using ProSites’ patient communication system add 2.5 appointments per day and save over 40 hours per month on patient communications.
Fall typically isn’t a slow appointment time for dental practices as parents take stock of everything they need to do before kids head back to school. So, appointment reminders are a good opportunity to help parents with their busy schedules. This is where ProSites’ family messaging helps reduce no-shows while simultenously reinforcing why patients chose your practice. If multiple people from a family have appointments on the same day, family messaging provides parents with one convenient reminder, which reduces the chances of a reminder being missed.
According to Dental Economics, “December, January, and February are the biggest crown and bridge months for most practices. This is due to dental insurance.” At year-end, patients want to use dental insurance and FSA benefits before they expire, and others with fresh benefits want to use them as soon as possible in the New Year. So, much like your spring patient communications, sending out insurance reminders to patients in winter can better ensure your dental chairs are full.
As part of seasonal strategies to maximize dental appointments and revenue, don’t underestimate the power of postcards. Yes, direct mail may be called antiquated by people raised on mobile devices, but your patient demographic is undoubtedly wide, and belief or bias does not reflect truth.
Seasonal Dental Marketing Strategies
Whichever way you choose to manage the seasonal ebbs and flows of dental appointments, the wisest planning includes options, which are all bundled into the complete patient communication system by ProSites, including:
- An easy-to-use dashboard to send and manage communications
- Pre-designed campaigns, including benefit reminders and recall programs
- Text messaging management and postcard messaging
Here’s to your practice success all year long.