Is fear of pain keeping patients from visiting your office? In one recent study, almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents admit they’re too scared to go to the dentist. Pain—either during or after treatment—is the number-one factor behind these dental visit phobias. But there’s another kind of pain that patients feel in the dentist’s office: the pain of spending a long time in the waiting room.
Today, consumers expect speed and convenience in every aspect of their lives. We buy products online to save time driving to the store (and fret when we can’t get next-day shipping). We text our friends because it’s faster than making an actual phone call. We grab our phones to look things up because it’s easier than getting off the couch and going to the computer. The dental office is no different.
Why the wait?
For patients, one of the biggest hassles of visiting a new dentist for the first time is dealing with all the paperwork. In fact, it’s enough of a headache that some patients will stay with a dentist they don’t like rather than go through the effort of switching to a new one.
On average, new patients wait longer than existing patients in the waiting room, according to 2017 ADA statistics. With the average percentage of new patients per practice having risen in the past 10 years, there are more new patients in your office than ever before. If they’re waiting too long to be seen, your schedule is thrown off and your entire office slows down.
Worse, long waits keep new patients from becoming loyal patients. Long waiting times for a scheduled dental appointment have been shown to negatively affect patients' satisfaction with their visit, their evaluations of the patient-provider relationship, and their intentions to return to that dentist in the future.
Speed up patient registration
Patients are busier than ever and don’t want to spend an hour in the waiting room completing forms. How can you ease the pain of new patient registration? According to Nielsen, consumers want four things from the companies they do business with:
- Make it easy for me.
- Make it useful for me.
- Make it simple for me.
- Help me make better use of my time.
To give new patients what they want, simplify the new patient registration process from the outset.
- Automate appointment reminders. Once a new patient makes an appointment, your front desk should ascertain the preferred way to contact the patient. Then follow up with an appointment reminder. Lighthouse 360 lets you automate reminders and send them via text, email or phone—however the patient wants.
- Get confirmation. Did your new patient actually get that reminder? Make sure you receive confirmation of the appointment. If you use Lighthouse 360, the confirmation goes directly into your PMS so no one has to enter data. This reduces the chance of human error.
- Prepare the patient. Let new patients know what to expect at their first appointment. For instance, should they arrive early? How long will the appointment take and what will be done? If you can text directly back and forth with patients, like Lighthouse 360 allows you to, this task is even easier.
- Streamline registration. Putting your new patient registration forms on your website for patients to fill out is no longer a practice differentiator. Chances are, patients won’t remember to print the forms and fill them out—or if they do, they’ll forget to bring the forms to the appointment. Instead, use an easy solution like Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature. Just send the new patient a text to let them know they can complete their registration on their phone. All they have to do is answer some simple questions—there’s nothing to download or print. They can even e-Sign the forms directly on their phone.
It’s easier for your staff, because you get the critical information you need in advance. It’s easier for patients, too—and isn’t that what it’s all about? Find out how Lighthouse 360 can help make the new patient experience faster, more convenient and more pleasant for your patients—and easier for you.