Is online booking for dentists worth it?


In this age of cut-throat competition, it’s important for every business to upgrade itself to meet the changing needs of its customers. That, of course, includes dental practices.

A recent study showed that by the end of 2019, nearly 66% of health systems in the United States will adopt a self-scheduling system and about 64% patients will prefer online booking using digital tools.1

Wow!

That’s a high percentage of patients preferring to not speak to anyone and book their dental appointments directly online at their convenience. Let’s think about what this will mean for dental practices.

The age of self-scheduling

Thanks to Uber, OpenTable, and many others, consumers expect to make quick online decisions to save time and have their needs perfectly met. As a dentist or dental practice, you need to be responsive to this shift in consumer behavior. If you are not making it possible for new and existing patients to book an appointment with you online anytime, anywhere, you are missing a lot of opportunities to acquire new patients.

Your dental practice needs to raise its visibility and be easily accessible to your customers with a robust system that offers 24/7 online-booking capabilities. Why? Because lengthy contact forms and speaking to staff members for appointments can not only be time-consuming, they also restrict your practice to specific hours.

Another survey revealed that 42% of patients would like to schedule an appointment online instead of scheduling by phone.2 However, only 17% practices offer online bookings.2

When customers have access to online booking, about 26% prefer to choose same-day or next-day appointments, thus filling up empty slots on your schedule.2

So, in order to rise above the competition, be easily accessible to new customers, and expand your practice, you need to partner with an online appointment-scheduling system.

Online appointment-scheduling systems

In my experience, a powerful appointment-scheduling system is LocalMed. I’m not getting paid to endorse LocalMed, but I’m an advocate of its service because our dental clients have started using LocalMed and have seen dramatic increases in new patient numbers. But it’s not only new patients. The value of this online-booking option is so evident—it pays for itself above and beyond what we expected.

Let’s look closer how LocalMed works.

The first thing you need to know is that the online-booking option through LocalMed automates the entire process, enabling patients to schedule appointments directly from your website. Confirmed appointments go straight into dentists’ practice management systems, such as Dentrix, as if they were being added manually.

LocalMed was specially designed to make online booking for dentists and patients easier. Patients can book an appointment 24/7, so it’s like having someone in the office outside of business hours. What’s more, its widget enables customers to book directly from practices’ Google My Business profile, Facebook page, Google Ads, and more.

Another attractive feature of LocalMed is that it is exclusive to dentists. The company is establishing itself, as seen by its recent partnerships with Invisalign, Healthgrades, and United Concordia Dental.

Each dental office can set its own parameters in LocalMed’s software, which allows only potential patients to see available appointment slots and doctors for a given day. These rules allow you to provide accurate details for any appointment request through LocalMed.

The website calendar provided by LocalMed will match what your staff can see in its patient management calendar. This saves time for the patient and staff, as the patient’s appointment is confirmed in seconds and the staff automatically gets the new appointment request via email. LocalMed can be accessed using a mobile phone, laptop, tablet, and similar devices.

And yes, LocalMed is HIPAA compliant!

Online-booking software: The caveat

How convenient is it to allow patients to book their dental appointments online without having to speak to anyone? Extremely! Let’s face it, everyone is super busy these days and moving at a fast pace. Customers are busy with work, family, and other commitments. In their minds, it’s often difficult to find a few hours to make time for a dental appointment. Therefore, if your practice is not easily accessible online, potential patients today will probably never take the time to find you.

That last bit is an important point, and it ties into our discussion about online-booking software.

Let’s say you use a great online-booking software like LocalMed. However, you don’t show up in Google when potential patients are searching for dentists in your area. Nor do you connect with your patients on social media with a special offer, and nor do you dominate local search with Google Ads. Well, in that case, your online-booking software’s benefits could be very limited.

But let’s say you do have these things in place. What could happen then? Speaking from experience, our first dental client who utilized LocalMed in its free 30-day trial period made $3,500 in successful treatments. After the 30-day trial, the practice was eager to continue to use LocalMed. They’ve consistently seen great results since. It’s been consistent with LocalMed’s claim that it provides an average return on investments of 33:1. That’s amazing value—one that your practice should seriously consider.

 


 Author’s note: At Organic Clicks we provide a free SEO audit to make it easier for your customers to find you. Contact us at to learn more about effective SEO strategies to make your dental practice rise above the competition, be easily accessible, and attract new patients.


References

1. Patient engagement: Digital self-scheduling set to explode in healthcare over the next five years. Accenture website. https://www.accenture.com/t20170412T073547Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-6/Accenture-Patient-Engagement-Digital-Self-Scheduling-Explode.pdf. Published 2016.

2. Survey: Majority of patients prefer online scheduling. PatientPop website. https://www.patientpop.com/blog/healthcare-website/online-scheduling-statistics-healthcare/. Published November 22, 2016.


Lamar Hull is the Founder of Organic Clicks LLC, a local SEO Company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Organic Clicks specializes in local SEO, website design, paid search, and social media marketing for health-care practices such as dental offices.

This article originally appeared on DentistryIQ