Online engagement is a must for your patients
Online engagement of customers is essential for any modern business to grow. For the clinical and dental sector this is even more of an issue. Once they have joined a practice, patients are not generally casual shoppers, but clients with whom we develop a relationship that will ideally last for years and grow to include entire families.
In this context online is crucial. Now more than ever, we spend so much of our lives online. We expect to be able to do all of our banking, deal with our phone and utility suppliers, and do ever-increasing amounts of shopping over the internet.
Online is trusted as a secure and convenient platform, and mobile has put the internet into the palm of our hands. If your Clinic or Practice has the tools to engage your customers with a seamless, accessible and unobtrusive online experience, then you can become a trusted and positive source of knowledge and support for your patients whenever and wherever they need you.
Building these relationships takes time and a consistent approach, but it is not difficult with the right tools and the right strategy.
The key tool that you will need is a high quality Practice Management Solution that offers a Patient Portal with rich functionality and the ability to share and digitally sign documents.
The initial step with using a Portal for online engagement is to get your patients registered to use it. You can sell it to them through sheer convenience, but you may also wish to offer a small discount on online appointment bookings, or entry into a draw, to encourage rapid adoption from your patients.
Even for an increasingly digitally savvy population change can be hard, so an incentive for them to add your practice app or link to your portal can be influential in nudging your patients online.
Once you have established your online connection with your patient then you need to consider the services that you are going to offer them. Online appointment bookings and payments are a must, but managing the process needs some thought. It may be advisable to require a deposit for appointments booked online to reduce FTA’s and to allocate certain times in the diary for online bookings.
You will need to consider how far in advance online bookings should be taken to achieve a balance between convenience for your patients and allowing you enough time to ensure that you fill your appointment books, and you will need to work out the best use of online payments for your practice and your patients.
The real new value of online engagement can be found in the added value that you can offer to your patients, and the potential revenue streams that you can develop.
A natural progression from appointment bookings and payments is to use your Portal to securely share documents with patients. Pre-appointment questionnaires and consent forms can be processed online at the convenience and comfort of your patient, whilst reducing your administrative burden.
With Treatment Plans, online engagement can offer real value to your practice. Treatment options can be discussed and outlined in clinic, but then a range of potential treatments can be shared with a patient through the Portal. With extra time and information, better informed decisions are made and the full implications of each option are better understood.
This supports improved patient outcomes, but also opportunities to ensure that patients focus on the treatment required and the benefits to them, rather than just the potential cost.
With all patient forms, consents and Treatment Plans, digital signing is a key element of online engagement. E-signing supports compliance, is more secure, more convenient, and more efficient for you. It also promotes your Clinic as a modern, switched-on business to your patients.
These functions all offer real value to your business by streamlining and enhancing existing functions, but a well planned online engagement strategy can also help you to develop new revenue streams and the kind of added value that helps you to retain and grow your patient base.
Once you have established a secure and trusted online connection with your patients you can begin to target them with educational information around oral hygiene, preventative care etc.
This may be free for them to access as an added value offer that builds your brand, or it may be offered with promotional offers for services and equipment, or it may be a paid extra that you create bespoke content for and offer a high-quality experience to your higher-value patients.
If you are using a good quality Practice Management software system then you will also be offered online video consultation through the Portal - this is a powerful tool for patient engagement. Beyond the obvious use as a triaging tool for emergency treatments, video consultation allows you to build rich relationships through pre and post treatment in-person support - checking in with your patients to advise and explain and give them a high level of care and attention.
Through the enhanced relationships that these services develop with your patients you are then able to use your online engagement strategy to understand key patient behaviours, needs and spend patterns. With this information you can tailor offers and promotions to your patients which meet both their clinical needs and your business needs, a win/win for everyone!
As we’ve seen, online is now the key place to be for your patients. They are there already and expect you to be too. A well thought out online engagement strategy, supported by the right online tools, will keep your business ahead of customer demand and help you to keep your existing patients and attract new ones, whilst adding value across your Practice.
For more information about AeronaClinic’s online engagement tools, get in touch with our team today!
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