How to Streamline Practice Operations to Reduce Staff Workload and See More Patients

We’d be lying through our teeth if we said that dental practices and DSOs weren’t feeling the pain of soaring costs from record inflation. Practices are having to fork out more money to retain scarce talent while also getting slapped with higher equipment costs. The net effect is slimmer profit margins. The good news is that leveraging the right technology can help you surmount these obstacles and equip you with the tools to boost revenue while giving your staff some breathing room.

Minimize Administrative Burdens on Staff

Just like last year, practice managers are scrambling to staff front offices while finding experienced applicants are few and far between. An ADA Health Policy Institute poll found 26.5% of practices are looking to hire administrative staff, yet 83% said recruiting those positions was “very or extremely” challenging. Those remaining staff members are asked to take up the slack perpetuating a cycle of fatigue, burnout, and high turnover.

But applying digital patient communications tools can help you increase production and cover more bases with fewer teammates. These solutions automate monotonous manual workloads and get staff off of the phones so they can focus their attention on patients and other priority tasks. These tools are in essence a staff multiplier; they allow you to more efficiently and effectively connect with your patients while simplifying appointment workflows.

  •      Two-way text messaging: One study found that nearly 75% of patients want to be able to send texts to their dental practice. Texting allows patients to quickly ask questions, reschedule, or confirm appointments in real time without overwhelming your phone lines. It enables you to reduce incoming call volumes giving your staff much-needed relief while offering patients quicker and easier ways to reach you.
  •      On-demand, self-service online scheduling: Today’s consumer-savvy patients don’t want the hassle of calling in to book an appointment. They want convenient self-service tools like online scheduling that let them book a visit 24/7 from anywhere. The feature enables you to increase patient access, reduce incoming calls, and improve your appointment volume while allowing you to retain complete control of your schedule.
  •      Templated patient communication and outreach: Save your staff hundreds of patient outreach hours by implementing tools that include a library of templates for common and frequent patient messages. These include text, email, and newsletter templates you can personalize and automate to ensure you reach the right patient at the right time with the right message.

Optimize Schedules to Book More Visits

Nothing puts a wrench in your practice’s productivity more than last-minute schedule disruptions that leave gaping holes and no way to fill them. No-show rates can range from 10 to 30% and set practices back $150,000 to $300,000 annually per provider. More than half of missed appointments happen just because patients spaced it. Again, the answer to narrowing that gap is turning to digital tools that help you fill your schedule more efficiently and effectively to optimize revenue-building opportunities.

  •      Appointment reminders: The No. 1 proven remedy to minimize no-shows is an customizable appointment reminder tool that allows your practices to automatically send multiple personalized text, email, or voice reminders. Adopting a reminder solution can shrink a practice’s no-shows by 5% or less which can save you an estimated $180,000 annually per provider. Studies have found that sending reminders at a proven cadence with a digital reminder solution increased appointment confirmations by 156%.
  •      ASAP waitlist via group messaging: Ninety-one percent of patients would accept a last-minute appointment due to a late cancellation. Your practice can brush off late cancellation worries with an automated ASAP waitlist comprised of patients hoping to get in sooner for a visit. Paired with a group messaging tool, the waitlist allows staff to reach out to patients to efficiently fill sudden vacancies and shrink revenue loss from missed appointments.
  •      Digital intake: In a post-pandemic climate, no one wants to fill out paper forms. Fifty-one percent of patients prefer a doctor who lets them fill out paperwork online. A digital intake tool enables you to reduce supply costs by ditching paper, avoid costly claim denials from transcription errors, and speed up the check-in process. You can automatically send patients a secure link to complete forms prior to the visit resulting in smoother check-ins and shorter wait times.

Bottom Line 

Step away from the inflation panic button—you don’t have to let higher costs and labor shortages derail your practice’s growth. Instead, adopt the digital patient communications solutions that will help you increase production with fewer staff, reduce manual workloads, and book more appointments.

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