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Dental Goes Digital

Nowadays, we increasingly live our lives online, and—as in every industry—this impacts the practice of dentistry.

If you’re on the hunt for a new dentist, maybe it’s time to pick up the phone—a smartphone. Building a relationship with a dentist or other medical professional can be a long and winding road, so be sure to consider the ways that their online social media and digital presence can help guide, or perhaps hinder, the journey.

Knowledge Is Power…for Everyone

Dr. Scott Hill, who purchased and combined two existing dental businesses in downtown Colorado Springs, now operating as North End Dental, says “online reviews are great resources for consumers in many fields from restaurants, tire shops, surgeons, and dentistry. I trust online reviews almost as much as a friend’s recommendation, and it turns out most people place about the same amount of validity on them. Word spreads.”

Fortunately for Dr. Hill, the word has been positive, but with all that talk, the impact of a negative review is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Business cyberbullying is no longer a rarity, the fallout from which has birthed a market for reputation-management software and digital marketing firms. In Colorado Springs alone, there are more than 45 SEO and digital marketing firms available to help business owners navigate online reviews and customer interactions.

“Online reviews have definitely turned me away from businesses that otherwise seemed legitimate, but I honestly look more to their general tech aptitude,” says Bonnie Salmons, who is currently searching for a long-term dentist after her previous dentist’s recent retirement. “What their website looks like, how clear and current their insurance policy is, and especially, whether or not it’ll be easy for me to see results or records down the line—those things are just as important. I don’t like jumping around from practice to practice, so I like to do my research ahead of time.”

A focus on his digital presence seems to be working well for Dr. Hill, who adds, “If a dental practice isn’t easily accessible online, they are missing the potential to treat new patients looking for a quality practice. I have found that being accessible online made our practice adapt in positive ways. We have placed even greater focus on customer service because not only can they tell their friends about the good experience, but they can also tell everyone who encounters your practice if they search for you.”

D.D.S. Confidential

Gone are the days of carrying copies of your records into the dental office—paper copies anyway—as records are now available and shareable through digital means. “We have an online payment portal and ways for digital record transfers,” Dr. Hill says. “And through our Facebook page, patients have been asking questions, and we love responding. It’s a simple, nonthreatening way for patients to give a dental practice a test drive.”

It’s now commonplace to reach out to businesses via social media for a multitude of questions—anything from rescheduling your appointment to confirming what types of insurance they accept—but it can be difficult for both customers and staff in medical fields to see boundaries as they have traditionally existed. Employees may not be authorized to answer certain types of questions, and by communicating on a public platform, businesses run the risk of inadvertently sharing confidential information in a public manner.

Patient portals give clients and medical staff the option to chat digitally, increasing office efficiency and the customer convenience factor, while maintaining a degree of security that keeps everyone safe.

“Our clients have seen an enormous decrease in no-shows when they utilize digital scheduling software,” according to Sarah, a customer success manager at medical tech company SolutionReach. “It’s a busy world, and people are much more likely to stick with a business that works with them. People want to stay loyal to businesses, but also expect a certain amount of flexibility and convenience.”