This past year the shift to capturing new patients and strengthening existing patient relationships through digital and video patient communications was driven by necessity. Now, as business begins to return to “normal,” it’s important to identify what was implemented out of necessity that we should continue to leverage as part of an effective patient communications strategy.
Something I implemented in my practice is the use of video as a welcome for new patients and as a follow-up communications tool for larger or more complex cases where the patient is interested, has come in for a consultation, but leaves the practice without scheduling. I have found that this streamlines the communication process and helps them get their questions answered. It’s an easy and effective way to set the foundation for treatment acceptance and build patient retention and loyalty. So, let’s start from the beginning.
A Personal Pre-appointment Introduction
Instead of just sending a “New Patient Welcome Packet” that focuses on collecting information and communicating practice policies, what if you could create trust with patients before they physically meet you? What if you could set the foundation for treatment acceptance by connecting with them personally, sharing your passion for dentistry and communicating the type of dentistry you do for other patients? I believe you can by creating a pre-recorded video that you send to new patients a few days prior to their appointment. We have found that the most effective video:
- features the doctor who authentically welcomes the patient to the practice and thanks them for their time and trust
- sets expectations for the experience the patient will have while in the practice
- communicates you and your team’s passion for creating healthy and beautiful smiles
- preemptively addresses barriers to treatment acceptance, such as fear, time and most importantly cost
Pre-appointment videos can accomplish a lot for just a few minutes of your time. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be real and authentic. See an example of one of my pre-appointment videos.
Post-appointment Follow-up Videos
When patients with complex or larger cases are not ready to make an immediate decision, often we just send them home with a written treatment plan. We unreasonably expect them to remember everything we said and, should they want to discuss it a family member, be able to present our recommendations clearly and accurately.
Instead, we have found that sending a post-appointment video is a powerful way to not only reinforce the benefits of the dentistry recommended, but also enable the patient to clearly communicate them to a spouse or other financial decision maker. It helps them re-visit the information, provides clarity, reiterates the benefits of care and gives them a way to share the information with others. Think of it as treatment presentation 2.0. It’s easy to do when you make it part of your daily routine and take just a few minutes at the end of the day to create short, custom videos to send to any patients who left uncommitted to needed or wanted care. Again, we have found the most effective videos:
- start off by thanking the patient for coming in for the consultation and trusting you for their dental care
- detail and reinforce the recommendations and benefits
- remind them that payment solutions are available and share what their estimated monthly payment may be. Many patients may have been uncomfortable asking for financial options while in the practice, so make it a point to let them proactively know they may be able to pay over time. Plus, many people have the CareCredit credit card and it may help them move forward knowing they already have a way to pay.
- let them know you’re ready when they are ready
It seems a lot changed over the past year. As things shift again, many of the changes we made will be discontinued because they no longer serve a purpose. Others – like video communication – will become long term strategies that help us enhance the patient experience.
Dr Brian Harris collaborates with CareCredit to develop educational materials for the dental industry.
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