Whether you need to encourage referrals because you are new to dentistry/the location or because the practice’s active patient database is looking a little quiet of late, there are many strategies that can be used to boost referral rates. Updating your practice’s equipment and devices is one useful option. By improving the patient experience and, therefore, encouraging word-of-mouth-marketing, as well as enhancing communication with patients and colleagues, cutting-edge technology can be used to differentiate your practice from the competition.
Educate and trust
It is agreed that imaging is an excellent tool for diagnostic and treatment planning purposes. It allows a “picture” to be understood by the clinician, with a visualization that is not only better than ever before but available in an instant. Further still, it is a highly effective way to communicate with patients and referring dentists. High-quality images can display the current clinical situation and then help to set expectations with regards to the next steps. In relevant cases, images can also facilitate discussions in complex cases. The discussion can take place with the patient whilst they are in the dental chair, making treatment more efficient for all. The patient has a better understanding and can quickly learn to trust the new dentist as he/she feels that they have “proof,” rather than just words.
In the case of a specialty practice, installing cutting-edge technology can be a method for attracting general dentists to visit and to better understand what referral opportunities exists for them. By “showing off” the equipment and devices, the possibilities available are understood and that level of trust is gained. The specialist can show cases in detail, from start to finish, so that the referring dentist has reassurance in their capabilities. Once the relationship is established, the digital platform can be used to enhance communications amongst the doctor’s peers. He/she can be kept up-to-date with the case in hand and receive detailed explanation of progress made. As the general dentist receives comprehensive information throughout the treatment, they are also better equipped to respond to any questions that the patient may have once the referred treatment is complete.
Marketing and brand image
Modern technology can be used to enhance the brand image of the practice. Whether they realize it or not, practices with older technology present a particular image to their existing patients and referring dentists. Dental practices that want to prosper and grow use modern technology to build their reputation and then reap the rewards of the investment. Patients are becoming much savvier when it comes to dental treatment. Because of the Internet and a higher awareness of how technology can aid many parts of today’s society, patients expect a certain amount of digitization in all that they do. The dental practice is not excluded from this.
From the referring dentist’s viewpoint, not only have communication channels opened up, but they also feel more confident in the referral. Every patient is precious and so they do not want to be sending theirs to an out-of-date practice, where old equipment is used and the patient experience is poor. It can also reflect negatively on the referring dentist and can erode at the important patient-dentist relationship created. By being able to refer to a modern practice with a forward-thinking approach, there is peace of mind.
Which technology makes us stand out?
There are numerous pieces of equipment and devices that could be purchased to modernize a dental practice, and, every day, new and updated versions are being released. It can be difficult to stay abreast of this, but it should be part of the practice’s responsibility to ensure they are kept aware of developments. An easy-to-integrate and valuable investment is an intraoral scanner. In addition to improving the patient experience and communication, intraoral scanners provide a “wow” factor to the practice and reduce turnaround time with the lab.
It is a competitive market, and dental practices continually have to find new ways to increase their patient reach. Technology is one technique to help differentiate from the rest and to continue drawing in word-of-mouth referrals from their existing patient database.