Practice Automation: Is Your Current Software Working Hard Enough for You?

May 18, 2016 Paul Mauer

Practice automation: Is your software working hard enough for you?

Although the majority of practices have adopted automation software to approach the challenge of their most time-consuming tasks (like patient communications), thousands of practices continue to waste hours of productive time and money completing manual, repetitive tasks on a daily basis. Why?

Unfortunately, most practices are not maximizing their practice management software to its fullest potential.  So while some practices are already automating things like patient communication and appointment scheduling, they have yet to tap into the full range of these automated features - and the others available to them -  that are designed specifically to save time, increase efficiency, and boost practice production.

Are you utilizing your current software to its maximum potential? Ask these 6 questions to find out if your current software could be working harder for you...or if it's time to switch to one that can! 

1: How often does my patient communication software sync with my practice management software? 

 It's no secret that your practice management software (PMS) and your patient communication software must sync in order to keep the schedule running smoothly. But, the frequency of this sync is extremely crucial if you truly expect to "set-and-forget" this otherwise manual process.

The majority of automated patient communication software work the same way: data is extracted from your PMS (practice management software) and "read" by your PCS (patient communication software) in order to keep messages to your patients accurate and on schedule. However, most software offers this “full sync” only once or twice daily - a synchronization that is by far not frequent enough.

A software that syncs this infrequent can't deliver a seamless and stress-free schedule as it leaves large gaps of time in which changes made to your PMS are not synced to your communication system and vice versa. Things like last-minute cancellations or sudden appointment changes can compromise your automated reminders and put your patients - and your practice - in a very uncomfortable spot. Additionally, once-a-day syncing means a heavy data transfer that can cause major delays and glitches to your servers. To ensure the most seamless and up-to-date experience that truly takes these manual tasks off your plate, the two must synchronize its data more often. 

 Lighthouse 360 does it every 10-minutes, all day, every day. Make sure your software keeps you ahead of the curve with the most up-to-date data at your fingertips. Learn more about why sync time and your patient communication system is a big deal here.

2: Does my patient communication software combine reminders for multiple appointments into one message?  

If your practice caters to family dentistry, you probably see more than one family member at a time (i.e. Mom books a trip to the dentist for all her kids on the same day). Most practice communication software will automate this scheduling task with confirmation texts and reminders for each scheduled appointment. Task done and off your plate, right? Wrong.

By treating each new appointment as a separate patient, your practice is sending a barrage of texts and emails to the same family - making more work for mom, and more work for you. Additionally, the influx of texts and emails that the family must confirm could incur unwanted cell phone charges. That's unwanted charges on their cell phone bill plus unwanted (and annoying) confirmation messages that they have to juggle - not the best customer experience! 

Automation that truly works for you will simply bundle the multiple family messages into a simple reminder that just one patient can confirm for the entire family in an easy click. This bundled message automatically syncs all of the appointments (and their separate data) directly to your PMS - taking the work and the stress out of your day, and theirs.

Learn how you can optimize family dentistry with your patient communication system here.

3: Is my patient communication software helping to maximize our “Sooner if Possible” list?      

Filling last minute cancellations is a major challenge that can cost hours of work, and thousands of dollars. Making sure your software is equipped to solve the on-going problem of the "no-show" is an absolute must as automated appointment reminders on their own are simply not enough. Does your current software offer an easy and effective solution?

Most practices keep a short list of those patients who have expressed wanting to be seen "sooner if possible" on account of a cancellation - a real life-saver when you're in a pinch.  Your current software should be able to easily access and communicate with this list by using simple on-demand messaging. With a smart patient communication software, you’ll be able to email and/or text-message blast your short list with the click of a button, giving you the instant opportunity to fill the holes in your schedule and satisfy the patients that wanted appointments sooner. Everybody wins!

4: Is my patient communication software doing anything to increase our case acceptance rate?  

One of the fundamental elements to a profitable practice is an effective patient recall strategy that effectively reminds and encourages your patients to return for their 6-month hygiene appointments. Additionally, your software should be able to execute treatment plan reminders for non-hygiene appointments. Even better? It should be able to tell the difference between the two types of appointments (hygiene vs. non-hygiene) so that you can consistently keep patients regular on their hygiene appointments AND encourage them to complete their recommended treatments through tailored treatment plan messaging.

Tailored treatment plan messaging is one of the biggest differentiators between practices as it has the ability to save tons of time, money, and majorly boost case acceptance rates across the board. Because many treatments require check-up and return appointments staggered months apart, it’s essential to have a smart software solution that can automatically schedule these treatments with custom delays.

Lighthouse 360 gives you the ability to simply mark patients in need of scheduling and then automatically begin messaging them to book an appointment. You can customize the types of messaging that they receive with a series of emails, postcards, and letters - a truly tailored experience that keeps patients satisfied and your case acceptance rate rising. 

5: Does my patient communication software automatically confirm appointments directly in my practice management software?   

Your patient communication software and practice management software are able to take many manual tasks off of your plate. But if they're not talking to each other regularly, they can actually create another manual task for you! One of the biggest time sinks in an office manager’s day is the process of moving the appointments that you’ve already scheduled with your patient communication system over to your practice management software via a separate dashboard. As we discussed above, even if the two sync daily, that's not enough. An outdated schedule can mean missed appointments, cancellations, and reminders – and that adds up! Make sure your patient communication system automatically confirms all appointments within your PMS, each and every time.

Lighthouse 360 automatically confirms appointments in your PMS with regular, 10-minute syncs, and when patients respond to an automated text - no extra work for the office manager! 

6: Does my contract afford me any flexibility? 

Finally, the last factor to consider is your current contract. Most software providers require an upfront and long-term contract that cannot be broken early and does not allow trial periods. Because every practice is run differently, it’s difficult to be confident that a software will suit your specific needs and workflow until you try it for a few months. If you aren’t able to "test drive" or break your contract, you could be locked into a software that doesn't work for upwards of a year. Make sure your software provides you with the flexibility you need to most efficiently adopt automation as an effective tool. Lighthouse keeps it easy - there are no contracts! This means it works every month to earn your trust and investment, and in turn, it gives you the ultimate freedom and flexibility.

To learn more about Lighthouse 360's simple solutions for busy office managers, click here

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