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Book ‘em! How to Incorporate Online Appointments into your Dental Practice Management

Dentistry becomes more digital every day. You’re probably already using dental practice software that manages appointments, patient records, and finances. But have you implemented online appointment booking yet? In this post, we’ll tell you why allowing patients to schedule appointments online is a great idea you and your patients.

 

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Online appointments: Pros and Cons

Pros: Using an online appointment scheduler has many advantages: First, it’s what most patients want! A recent Accenture study found that 77% of patients would schedule appointments online if the option were available to them. It allows patients to book anytime, day or night, and choose from a variety of possible times throughout your real-time schedule—including the next day!

The benefits to you and your dental practice staff are also numerous. Self-driven scheduling can reduce no-shows. Plus, your staff will spend hours less time on the phone (the average scheduling call takes more than 8 minutes!) and will have more time for focusing on delivering great patient care.

Cons: The only drawbacks come from faulty implementation. Make sure to differentiate appointment types. Patients coming in for a cleaning will likely need less time than someone coming in for an in-office whitening procedure or wisdom tooth extraction.

To make sure you choose software that has the features you need, make a list in advance of what you need your scheduling software to do. Be clear and specific on what types of appointments you’ll allow people to book online and which types of services will require a phone call from staff to clarify exact needs. And don’t forget your patient personas: If your patient population is mostly elderly, you should keep the option of phone scheduling. However, if you cater mostly to Millennials, you’d better get your online scheduling set up. 71% of this group prefers mobile booking! 

How to Get Started with an Online Appointment Scheduler 

Good news: setting up online appointment scheduling is very easy. First, be sure that your website is well-updated, user-friendly, and optimized for use with computers and mobile devices. Then do your research and find software that is appropriate for your dental practice and your preferences. Here are just a few of the numerous software options out there: 

  • Bookingtime software is an appointment scheduling program that easily integrates into your current dental practice website and offers customer management, email and text message reminders, among other features. In some cases, these tools are all free!
  • Hello Patient software uses cloud computing for text and voice communication, as well as online appointment scheduling that automatically syncs to the patient’s record. It even notifies them about incomplete treatments! With birthday messages, post-appointment surveys, and regular reminders, this a CRM dream.
  • Simplybook.me is another appointment scheduler with a version for dentists running their own practices that offers an online calendar, an iOS mobile booking app, and automatic reminders. And the first month is free!

Encouraging Patients to Schedule Appointments Online 

Many patients will happily switch to scheduling online appointments, but you still need to get the word out and encourage them to use this new feature. When patients come in, let them know that they can book future appointments online. Feature the online appointment scheduler prominently on social media and your website. Offer a QR code in your office that allows Smartphone users to hop online immediately and book. Try incentivizing online scheduling: offer a discount on cleanings or a hygiene kit to everyone booking online for the first time. 

In the end, the time and hassle your patients and your staff will save benefits everyone. Better patient experiences and more patient engagement bring better patient relationships!

Do you want to focus on more ways to improve your dental practice? Read our post about cutting costs and getting your practice management in order. You’ll be surprised how many hidden costs could be dragging down your bottom line!

Topics: Practice Management