How is it that a single Starbucks coffee shop in 1971 spiraled into over 32,000 branches globally? The key lies in understanding what drives consumers to make the trip to the shop instead of settling for a home-brewed cup of coffee. This article will take a look at the forces behind the scene that drive customers, and how they’re relatable to dentistry.
Getting into the mind of a Consumer
Dental practices have a unified goal of high quality patient experience. Meeting or exceeding that benchmark requires understanding the psychology of patients. What is it that will create fruition and a desire to make the trip to your dental practice? Although comparing the dental industry to consumerism sounds out of place, the reality is that patient experience works in a similar fashion.
Looking beyond the clinical boundaries of running a practice is vital for providing the outstanding experience patients are seeking. Patients are consumers looking for an experience that wows them. To make it happen, dental practices must embrace elements to create that feeling, just like Starbucks was able to nail the factors that bring in coffee-lovers again and again.
How Starbucks “wowed” Coffee-lovers
Making a cup of coffee is easy, but enjoying a high-quality fresh-brewed cup at a brand name shop, with fast service, where predictability and convenience are key elements, is the secret that Starbucks has understood. Let’s take a step back and apply this to dental practices…How is it possible to give patients that same service and grow exponentially with it?
What can dental offices do to deliver predictability of service to their practice just like Starbucks brings predictability in taste, speed of service and atmosphere? Experts that have mastered the steps for business success, go about it via implementation of 6 Sigma concepts.
6 Sigma is a process of quality management that involves finding weak points, determining the reasons behind them, and applying a repeatable strategy to improve them. We’ll discuss two prime factors that have been determined by experts to create predictability in dental practices:
Quality of Care
How is it that Starbucks is able to make each location efficient and successful? Operational Efficiency is a prime ingredient, and it’s commonly overlooked by many dental practices.
Chew on this - practices that streamline with a one-stop system of operations are more successful. The reason it works for Starbucks and will work for you is the following:
It lowers the cost of operations
Makes it easier to scale up
Customers like predictability
Putting ourselves in the patient's shoes helps get a grasp on why they select practices that streamline with efficient services. SRS Web Solutions conducted a study on the effects of dental practices streamlining operations, and found a 400% increase in office productivity! With such a powerful figure, it shows how efficiency directly correlates with improving the flow of daily operations.
Further research has narrowed down 5 manual office operations that hold back productivity and efficiency. These include:
Manual Billing via paper invoices
Traditional Insurance Verification done via phone calls
Paper Forms Intake Process with Manual data entries
Appointment Scheduling & Reminders via Phone Calls
Old School Phone call Communication without ability to text
1. Manual Billing via Paper Invoices
Dental practices that manage Accounts receivable manually, frequently complain about late payments, and collections that continue to increase month to month. On top of that, paper invoice errors create havoc and eat up valuable time to correct.
Automating the billing process at your dental office creates a predictable procedure for how patients receive and pay bills. A survey conducted by SRS Web Solutions shows that 60% of patients prefer to pay bills via their smartphone and out of them, 35% would pay immediately.
With the vast majority of patients being smartphone savvy, and weary of paper invoices, it would make sense to automate the process for patients with text-to-pay, collecting same-day payments. Dental practices that switch to automated accounts receivable upscale faster payments and improve patients’ experience.
(2) Traditional Insurance Verification done via phone calls
Why is it that “87% of patients say they were slapped with a surprise bill in 2021?” One critical reason is an inadequate insurance verification process. Manual Insurance verification leaves patients susceptible to human errors and slips in the process that give rise to ambiguity about insurance coverage.
The countless faults in old-school manual insurance verification can devastate your dental practice revenue.
On the flip side, Automated insurance verification saves practices the headaches of inaccuracies, revenue loss, and lengthy phone calls. Eligibility reports are pulled up in seconds and provide reliable coverage information that does away with unexpected patient bills.
(3) Paper Forms Intake Process with Manual Data Entries
Printer jams, missing signatures, lost charts, scanning, and data entry errors - do these sound familiar? An entire host of challenges are created by paper-based intake processes.
Although paper intake forms are still being used at dental practices, 81% of patients have advanced to a different wavelength, preferring providers that offer online forms and remote patient intake processes. Streamlining your documentation process is an integral part of operational efficiency.
Smart practices select software that gives patients online access to complete forms, and integrates them into your practice management system for easy transfer and storage. Just imagine your front office no longer having the burden of manual data entries, printing, scanning, or paper hassles.
A paperless documentation system is an all in one solution that minimizes human intervention, scales up your practice, and allows for doubling the number of patients in a day without the need for hiring more staff.
(4) Appointment Scheduling & Reminders via Phone Calls
How many calls does your practice miss on a weekly basis? Based on reports gathered by SRS Web Solutions, the average practice misses 20% of new patient calls. That’s a staggering amount of missed opportunities for new patient exams.
With the vast majority of your patients being attached to their smartphone, why not utilize it as an easy avenue for patients to self-schedule appointments? Let’s face it - low traffic will sink your revenue over time. 24/7 online scheduling puts patients in the driver’s seat to book an appointment at their leisure without having to pick up the phone.
No-shows are a headache for all dental practices across the country, putting a huge dent in profits. The old-school method of calling patients to remind them of appointments has become a nuisance for on-the-go patients who expect more high tech communication.
SMS reminders with 2-Way texting capabilities, are the perfect answer to freeing up your front office from the office phone, and are exactly what patients have been asking for. No more wasting time trying to get a hold of patients.
(5) Old School Phone Call Communication without ability to text
Do your patients need to pick up the phone to communicate with your office? In a study conducted by Pubmed, 95% of patients had access to text messaging and preferred it over phone calls or email communication. This begets the questions of - where does your practice stand in providing a communication channel that meets patients expectations?
2-way texting allows patients to get answers to their questions, share important documents, and stay connected without having to play phone tag, or be put on hold. It provides operational efficiency for your staff and makes your communication channel faster and more convenient for patients.
Quality of Care
One factor we can all agree on, across the board is that quality of care matters. A practical tool for measuring where your practice stands from the patients perspective is first pass yield. Are your patients getting accurate results the first time around, or does rework need to be done by the lab or front office?
You may think it’s not a big deal, but patients and staff see it differently. On top of that, the cost of persistent rework can dent your profits.
What is your practice First Pass Yield or FPY?
If Starbucks had to frequently remake coffee for customers, or had a fault in the accuracy of orders communicated, they’d lose a large chunk of their customers and revenue. The same applies to dental practices losing patients who don’t want the inconvenience of having to come back for rework, or because of miscommunication.
Having a good first pass yield puts your practice at an advantage with better quality of care and reliability that patients can count on. Digital software that collects, transmits and stores data more accurately, along with patient-preferred communication channels are attainable ways to keep your quality of care at a 5 star level.
Becoming the Starbucks of Dentistry is achievable with the right approach and understanding of human psychology. Step out of your comfort zone of clinical thinking and put on the marketing hat of a business owner. Exert your energy into achieving operational efficiency, and high quality of care. It’s through these 2 elements that your dental practice(s) will grow exponentially.
With a unified system in place at your practice location(s), staff training becomes easier, and patients enjoy better predictability. mConsent’s digital solutions have helped 5000+ practices revolutionize their operational efficiency, improve quality of care, and standardize their operations at multi-locations. Learn how mConsent can help your dental practice.