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Does your practice’s digital front door make a good impression?

Of all the healthcare sectors, dentistry was one of the most reluctant to embrace digitization and new administrative and organizational technologies. Dental innovations have lagged for years, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced dental practices to change their ways. As patients became more reluctant to visit healthcare practices due to the risk of exposure, dentists were forced to rely on technology to reach their patients. Today, dentists realize that they need to market their practices and cultivate a patient experience that is relevant to the present, with digital equipment. Dentists need to transform their digital front door.

Since 1997, dentistry has moved slightly towards digitization (Figure 1). In the early 2000s, paper records were the main source of information. It took more than 10 years for offices to go paperless and around 2018 dental practices started embracing the idea of ​​automation, especially when it came to online scheduling. We are now on the cusp of another shift: Dentistry must embrace the digital front door.

Your “front door” makes the first impression

A digital practice gateway is a framework through which dentists can understand the impact of their virtual interactions with clients. Just as you want your physical office to provide a positive and inviting experience, your digital front door is the first impression your customers will have of your business, especially in a time of increasing telehealth appointments. currents.

This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the design, but rather how patients are served when they virtually “arrive” at your practice, such as a practice website, virtual scheduling, or receipt of application forms. admission by e-mail. In order to make the best impression, dentists need to focus on providing a streamlined and easy-to-use digital experience. This means that virtual intake forms, digital payments, appointment scheduling, insurance verification, documentation and virtual consultations must be intuitive and accessible to all patients. Dentists will benefit from an all-inclusive digital platform that offers all the elements of a digital gateway in one space.

Carefully organizing your practice’s digital front door will ensure that patients have a positive experience. Where you can invest in calming decor, comfortable seating, pens, paper and friendly staff for your in-person office, your digital front door requires investments in technology that streamline the patient experience and make telehealth more accessible and less cumbersome.

Automation keeps practices competitive

Automated systems are a key part of delivering a positive experience, as they keep practices on track with each patient’s needs. appointments, records and documents. While automation certainly helps the patient, it also helps office managers, nurses, technicians, and dentists streamline their workflows and reduce the overall administrative burden of running a practice. In a 2020 phone survey conducted by SRS Web Solutions, we spoke to 2,500 dental practices and found that digital intake processes cut patient wait times by 80% and enabled front office managers to save 30% of the time they spent on documentation.1

Digital documentation is better than paperwork because digital forms can be saved long-term, are easily updated without having to fill out a whole new form, are accessible from anywhere (before, during and after an appointment ) and reduce waiting time. Hall. Digital forms can also help reduce errors, increase visibility of any missing information, and ensure intake forms are filled out accurately, correctly, and completely. Our study found that patients saved an average of 20 minutes each when digital admission processes were used (Figure 2).1 Virtual insurance verification can also help dentists reduce the frustration of dealing with patients and with insurance companies. Virtual consultations help patients seeking cosmetic procedures weigh options, costs, and recovery time without having to travel to the office and sacrifice a day of work. Overall, by reducing the time spent on administrative tasks, dentists can devote more time to patient-centered care.

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Digital dental administration is also more sustainable as it reduces the amount of wasted paper and the carbon footprint of a practice. only one dental practice uses an average of 10,000 sheets of paper per year.2 And dental practices in the US and UK produce more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Dentists need to consider these environmental factors in managing their practice.

The convenience of the digital front door is driving patient adoption, and dental practices need to embrace this change. Patients are ready for more efficient practices and more accessible care options, such as virtual consultations and digital intake forms (Figure 3).3 It’s time for dentistry to become a leader in the move towards automation and digitization of healthcare. Practices that are hesitant to adopt these technologies will see their competitors outperform them. It’s time to give our patients something to smile about, whether they’re visiting in person or walking through the digital front door.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2022 print edition of Dental economy.

The references

1. Internal telephone survey. SRS Web Solutions. 2020.

2. Pockrass I. Going paperless increases efficiency and helps your practice become environmentally friendly. Dental Products Report. July 6, 2012.

3. Zimiles A. Four new statistics that prove telemedicine isn’t just a pandemic fad. Medical Economics. July 8, 2020.

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