Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Save Time . . . be more productive

A goal for many offices this year is implementing an electronic and automated appointment reminder and continuing care system. This is such a great idea! Not only will you save time by having someone else do the task for you, but you will be able to fill that time with more productive things. Here are some frequently asked questions that I have heard from offices.

Q: Is email and text part of Dentrix?

A: It is part of eCentral, which is fully integrated with Dentrix. eCentral is a big umbrella that includes the Communication Manager, Insurance Manager, and Website Manager. I will focus today on the Communication Manager, which includes e-mail, postcards, and texting. With this product, you can set the frequency of the correspondence, customize the e-mail message, and choose from hundreds of template selections. What do I think is the best part of it all? It will update the status of the appointment instantly.

Q: I am not sure about texting as part of our appointment confirmation procedure. What do you think?

A: When I first initiated text messaging, I was very nervous and I hear the same thing from other offices. However, the majority of the confirmations from most of my offices (including my own) come from text. I was surprised by this, but more people walk in and say, “I love the text message” than call and say, “Take me off the text message list.” We have more than 70% of our patient base opting in for text and only slightly more than 50% opting in for e-mail … and my office is in a huge retirement community.

Q: I signed up with eCentral but I don’t know where to start. What do you suggest?

A: I’m glad you asked! You don’t want to overload the patient with too many messages. For appointment confirmations, I suggest sending out a postcard to all the hygiene patients 2 weeks before their appointment. Since you know everyone has an address and these patients have been scheduled for the longest amount of time, they all need a reminder and I don’t want to miss anyone. Next, I would send an e-mail confirmation out 5-7 days before all appointments. This gives the patient the opportunity to confirm the appointment through the e-mail and saves your office a phone call. The final message I would send is a text message out 24 hours prior to their appointment.

Of course, you can tweak these suggestions to fit the needs of your office. I have a few offices that make confirmation calls 2 days prior to the patient’s appointment so they send the text message 48 hours prior to the appointment.

Q: What if the patient does not want to get text messages because he or she doesn’t have an unlimited plan?

A: If a patient receives a text message and he or she is upset because he or she had to pay 50 cents for it, I would offer a $5 credit for the trouble at the next visit and then remove that patient from all future text messages. It is very easy to remove the patient from specific correspondence methods when using eCentral. Open the Websync toolbar (while in the patient’s account), click the wrench, then select patient setup and uncheck text.

Q: Can I edit the content of the e-mail? I don’t like the wording.

A: Yes, if you open the Communication Manager in eCentral, you can go to edit e-mail templates from the dropdown menu. Then if you select the template and click edit, it will open the template in an edit window where you can change the words, font, or merge fields.
For more information on eCentral click here to go directly to the Dentrix website.

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