Looking for Dr. Good Dentist: Meeting the Needs of the Modern Family Through Technology
Technology can make or break your relationship with your customers. It’s a lesson some businesses understand intuitively while others simply choose to ignore.
Take my dentist, for example. She uses a telephone auto-dialer system to remind patients of upcoming appointments. It’s a great idea in principle -- but the system she has chosen doesn't work well in real life.
Instead of making one telephone call to let patients know that members of the same family have appointments at the same time, the auto-dialer system calls your phone number (or leaves messages on your voice mail), back to back, repeating the same lengthy message for each patient. It’s inefficient and extremely annoying.
And that's not the worst of it, unfortunately.
The phone message on her telephone system informs patients that they have to provide the office with 48 hours’ notice if they wish to reschedule an appointment. Unfortunately, patients are also informed that they are not allowed to leave messages on the voice mail system: they must call back during business hours, when a staff member will be available.
It wouldn’t be so bad if there were other ways of making contact with the office: if patients could communicate via email, Facebook, or Twitter; or log on to a secure area of the dentist’s website to cancel and rebook appointments. (If we can book our own airline tickets online, why can’t we schedule our own dental appointments?)
A dentist open to engaging in two-way communications with patients could enhance relationships while keeping patient information up to date. Patients could verify personal and billing information (thereby reducing the number of health insurance claims that get rejected), indicate their interest in receiving dental health info-bulletins, and sign up for online or face-to-face dental education events (for example, a session on dental care and the child with special needs). The dental practice, in turn, could share information about its patient care philosophies (which, hopefully, would be reasonably in synch with this really progressive child, youth, and family health patient care code of conduct from the UK).
At this point, I fear I’m dreaming of dentists who haven’t even entered the realm of fiction. (When was the last time you watched a TV show or a feature-film about a happy or well-adjusted dentist?) But I’d love to be proven wrong.
Maybe there is a Dr. Good Dentist out there somewhere. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have such a dentist: someone who is a great dentist, technologically savvy, and personable and patient-friendly to boot. Anyone know such a dentist?