Through consulting with clients and monitoring industry thought leaders, we have compiled a list of 13 trends we’re predicting in 2020. It’s no secret that the dental industry is going through a technological revolution that is contributing to higher quality patient care, and in turn creating higher expectations for dental providers. To compete today, it’s crucial to have the right technology in place to provide the level of care a modern patient has come to expect.
An obvious statement, yes, but many dental offices struggle with this most fundamental question: how to get more dental patients?
Here are a few ideas that may prove helpful to those offices looking to increase their patient flow.
What are the Latest Trends in Dentistry?
The advent of digital marketing and the way consumers engage online and process information has created both opportunities and threats for a practice owner. The choice is clear: make sure you’re keeping up, or get left behind. By staying ahead of these trends—or at least keeping pace with them—you can feel confident in making 2020 a great year for your business.
1. No, it’s not raining – but there is a cloud.
Cloud-based practice management software isn’t going away. It’s contributing to a more flexible work-life balance for employees, provides better security for confidential patient information, and allows for providing advanced reporting that large DSOs use to centralize, standardize and grow.
2. Everyone’s browsing on the go, aren’t you?
Is your website mobile friendly? When was the last time you updated it? Your website is like your calling card. It’s where people go to find your contact information, learn more about you and the services you offer, and determine if you’re the right provider for them. If it’s been a while since you updated your website, it may be time to do so—most experts most say you should be updating your website every 2-3 years, to avoid losing new patients to competitors with a more catchy or user-friendly online presence you could be turning away new patients.
3. Being active on social media is key.
70% of consumers expect a business to have a social media presence, and the average social media consumer spends 2 hours per day browsing on their favorite platforms. Which begs the question: are you also spending time on those platforms?
Social media is a great channel to build up credibility through generating reviews, sharing office news, and making your practice seem more welcoming with regular team updates.
4. Chat with patients on your website.
Ever heard of a chatbot? Chatbots are designed to help you communicate with patients who ask common questions about the services you offer, financing options, how to pay a bill, and more.
A bot is an automated, online customer service agent that you can pre-program with helpful information that your existing—and prospective—patients might ask online. It also allows you to capture valuable information like an email address and a phone number. In the case of a new prospective patient visiting your site, having another way to capture their contact information allows you to reach out again later to encourage them to schedule a visit and make you their #1 dental provider.
5. So you have a great website, but is it visible to everyone?
Publishing or updating a website doesn’t mean that existing and prospective patients can find you easily online. Fortunately, there are a few very effective techniques to drive traffic to your website; two of the most popular are known by their acronyms, SEO and PPC.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. A search engine is an online tool you can use to search for things across the web; the most popular one being Google. If you have “poor SEO,” that means that Google isn’t able to find your site and serve it up in the first few pages of search results (ideally the first page, below the sponsored results or paid listings). search results. A quick example: you search for “local dentist” and Google gives you several pages of search results. All of those websites that Google is displaying in the first couple pages of results all have great SEO strategies in place to help them get in front of you when you search for that term.
PPC stands for pay-per-click. This tactic also involves a search engine, primarily Google. It’s similar to the above, except in this case you actually pay to get your website to show up at the top of the search results. This is the primary difference between SEO and PPC. SEO can take a long time because you are building a lasting presence on Google, whereas with PPC you are paying to jump to the top of the first page immediately. This means once you stop paying, you no longer appear as one of the first results. There are benefits and drawbacks to both strategies, which is why a lot of businesses (including dental practices) hire an outside digital marketing for guidance.
6. Video content is king in today’s world.
Think about the difference between a picture and a video. A picture doesn’t move, it shows a brief, most likely staged, moment. Whereas video shows a whole storyline full of micro-moments that narrate a story. A video draws you in and lets you be a part of that moment and is far more engaging than a photo ever could be.
Which is why video content is king. It’s more real, tells more of the story and lets viewers feel like they are part of the overall narrative. It allows you to tell your story, show your passion for what you do, and tell the stories of other patients that have had great experiences with your practice. Here are a few tips for making great video content:
- Keep it short. Most people browsing online want to get quick hits of information. 30 seconds is an ideal length. Keep your video short and to the point.
- Make it real—do not stage it. Today’s consumer is more sensitive than ever to staged advertisements. Instead, they want authentic, real content that truly communicates the experience or quality they can expect to receive.
- Quality—don’t shoot a quick video with your iPhone in 1 take and think you have it in the bag. Instead, hire a videographer who makes videos for a living. It’s harder than you think to make the details just right. And for a reasonable fee, it’s often possible to find a great local videographer to help you.
7. Membership plans help you serve more patients.
No one will be surprised to hear that insurance reimbursement is top of mind for dentists. The delicate dance between collecting reimbursement for services rendered and providing the best patient experience has a direct impact on your bottom line. And for those who can’t afford or don’t have access to dental insurance, out-of-pocket expenses for annual cleanings and exams may be out of the question.
A large segment of the population doesn’t prioritize dental care because of its perceived cost. Which is why more and more practices and dental groups have started offering membership plans. The most obvious and impactful benefit is that you get to control the finance arrangement. Meaning you have better control of your cash flow through determining financing agreements that best fit your practice needs. This type of arrangement also helps you attract new patients by giving them access to the care they need.
8. Improve the dental patient experience and get referrals.
There are so many ways that you can fine-tune the patient experience when your patients visit your office. This experience starts the day they know who you are and well before they make their first appointment. You must make a great first impression on day 1. Every detail from your website, to when and how they receive appointment reminders, to that moment when they walk through your door and back out again after treatment is complete. In thinking through every detail, you can ensure you provide the best patient experience possible which will turn them into your biggest advocates.
Exercise: More heads are better than one. When thinking about how to improve the overall patient experience, set a meeting with your entire staff. Throw the question out to them during an interactive brainstorming session. Write down their ideas on a whiteboard or piece of paper. Then organize these ideas based on impact and ease of implementation. You will come out of the meeting with a roadmap that everyone will feel they had a hand in creating.
9. 3D printers are real, no goggles needed.
It’s long been thought that using traditional molds to create direct impressions is the best method to create plastic retainers, braces and mouthguards. However, 3D scanners are helping dentists create even more accurate molds that produce better patient results.
Three-dimensional printers use digital scans to create model eliminating the potential for ripples and improving patient comfort. Given the greater accuracy, devices created by three-dimensional printers are likely to result in a better fit.
10. The use of laser dentistry is growing.
Laser dentistry is a new standard in patient care and patients are realizing the benefits. When using dental lasers patients are less likely to require sutures, anesthesia may not be required, infection is less likely and recovery time may be shortened. All of these benefits are not only great for patients, but they are also great for growing your business. Through investing in better technology, you can include its benefits in your marketing materials to help upsell services and attract new patients. At the end of the day, investing in your practice means investing in your patients. What could be better?
11. Teledentistry is here.
Having real-time remote access to important patient information like x-ray results and treatment plans can help you grow your practice in new ways. By moving to a more user-friendly platform that enables teledentistry, you will experience more operational efficiency when your staff spends less time on data entry and focuses instead on delivery of care. One practice got so creative with delivering patient services that they created a mobile dental clinic on wheels.
12. Review sites generate new dental patient referrals.
Online reviews can quickly become—if they aren’t already—one of your best sources for new patient acquisition. If you think about it, most people find information about services, even health-related, online. Choosing a healthcare provider is a big decision, and one that many can feel is daunting and even nerve-wracking. How do they find someone they can trust?
Online reviews create an outlet for your patients to share their honest feedback about the care they receive. These reviews give you valuable feedback about what’s working, as well as areas for improvement. No one hits a home run every time, so it’s important to listen so you can make tweaks to continue to grow your business. No reviews are bad, not even “bad” ones. Even these reviews allow you to show that you care. You should always respond to “bad” reviews in a way that shows you are willing to listen and make it right or provide an outlet for them to continue to voice their concerns by directing them to call and speak with you directly. In doing this, you are showing that you are willing to listen and truly value honest feedback. Prospective patients are more likely to choose you if they see both good reviews and a few not-so-good reviews where you respond promptly and with a solution.
13. Learn from other practices.
With so much information available online, it’s easy to find out what’s worked well for other practice owners. You can learn about their business strategies, technology investments, and how they fixed common problems that you also may be experiencing. Here’s a case study where we take a look at how a dental practice used Denticon to standardize, centralize and grow.
Is Your Dental Practice Ready for 2020?
If you’d like more tips like these, we’d welcome the chance to speak with you about your individual practice goals. We are standing by, ready to start a conversation that could help you grow your practice and continue to improve your standard of care.
Don’t miss out on seeing your practice succeed! Contact us and get a demo today.