9 Tips For Dentists & Orthodontists Building a Strong Practice During the Coronavirus Pandemic
featuring Dr. Alexander Waldman
(Part 2 of 2)
Co-authored with Dr. Alexander Waldman, principal orthodontist at Waldman Orthodontics in Beverly Hills, California.
Two weeks ago, we brought you Tips 1-5 of of our 9 Tips for Dentists & Orthodontists Building a Strong Practice During the Coronavirus Pandemic. If you haven't had the opportunity to read it, we encourage you to do so first! Without further adieu, we present you with Tips 6-9 (plus a bonus tip!)
6. Maintain Ongoing Communication With Patients, or Else
Right now it is more important than ever to maintain a connection with our patients. Coronavirus has been an unprecedented event in its scope that, like any major global event in history, has had the power to change our habits. Some are calling it the end of the handshake.
People are buying more online instead of in stores. eSports (watching people play video games) are surpassing actual sports in popularity as people search for novel modes of entertainment.
Over the next few months, how many patients are going to change their habits and look at alternatives to in-office orthodontics? Scary, right? Well here is the good news… Direct to Consumer companies may be big, and they may spend an enormous amount of money on marketing, but they do not have the warmth, care, and knowledge that your office and your doctor have. One way to compete with online Direct to Consumer options is to continue building strong personal relationships by engaging in ongoing virtual communication with patients. A few ways to do this are:
Offer a virtual consultation option and emphasize the unique expertise of your doctor and your office.
Use online advertising, review sites, and community connections to drive new patients to your website and start a virtual consultation with SmileSnap.
Maintain strong relationships via text, email, and social media.
Use video content to send updates to your patients and keep them informed.
7. Don’t get stuck in the stone age! Don’t Be Afraid to Use a Mix of Text, Voice and Video Chat to Engage your patient Base and Attract New Patients.
It’s 2020 and everything is digital. We buy everything from airline tickets to our groceries online, use an app to call a mobile groomer for little Spot, and do just about everything else with our smartphones.
Our patients are comfortable in this digital world and with every passing year, more of our patients are “digital natives” - patients who were born into the smartphone age. Their instincts are to go online for everything, hence the attraction of Direct to Consumer orthodontics.
We must begin using elegantly designed online virtual consultations which meets patients where they are - online or on their phones. These tools gives us the cutting edge technology we need to compete with larger Direct to Consumer companies. Patients will naturally find us from review sites and online reputation, but if we do not offer a way for them to engage with us in an easy and convenient manner, we will lose them to other online options.
By engaging with the new patient before they find lower quality online products, we are able to introduce them to our office in the convenience of their home and on their own time.
Although we assume that patients are always looking for the cheapest option, our experience has shown this to be false. Many patients will choose Direct to Consumer orthodontics purely out of convenience, not necessarily because of price. Tools like SmileSnap allows our patients to have an easy, high-tech, and convenient consultation experience, and gives them the confidence that they are working with a quality office that will give them an excellent result.
8. Bi-Weekly Email Updates to Your Mailing List
Email updates are a very important and simple way to keep in touch with existing and prospective patients. There are a few approaches to newsletters (see this article by Hubspot for example styles), but we suggest keeping them simple and sincere. It is more important than ever to build relationships and not spam promotions.
Here is a pro-tip: If you use an email service like GSuite from Gmail, add a temporary email address such as [email protected]. Another option is to provide our patients a cell phone number to call. This will give them the feeling that they have an open channel to discuss things with us and ask treatment related questions. If we don’t release the pressure that is building up by offering patients a direct way to reach us, some patients may end up becoming frustrated and walk away from their treatment.
So the take home message is: Don’t disappear from your patients lives just because you can’t see them in person. Stay real, stay present, stay active.
9. Keep Up Your Social Media
Everyone is turning to social media not just to crowdsource information but also to connect with the world around them. To prevent the spread of this pandemic face-to-face interpersonal interactions is understandably highly discouraged but there are other ways we can foster social connectedness, keep our community updated and provide resources to patients to help them maintain oral health.
Use this as an opportunity to up your social game and promote your virtual consultations. Make sure your patients know you’re still there and ready to be their oral health care provider when they need it! You can effectively create a backlog of prescreened new patient appointments and drive leads for when you are ready to reopen by promoting your virtual consultation tool and offering incentives to patients who use it.
BONUS TIP: Everything You've Learned in Tips 1-9, Share with Your Treatment Coordinator!
Although the end is not yet in sight, we can not despair. These 9 tips are things that we can do to right now to keep our businesses vibrant despite as we prepare to be able to reopen our offices and treat patients once again. By maintaining these strong relationships and introducing upgrades like SmileSnap virtual consultations, we can guarantee that we will return to healthy practices and continue to help people in the way we always have - one smile at a time.
About Dr. Alexander Waldman
Dr. Alexander Waldman is the founder and principal orthodontist of Waldman Orthodontics in Beverly Hills, California. Dr Alexander Waldman is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and received his undergraduate and dental degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, He then completed his fellowship in orthodontics at Harvard University and received the esteemed Joseph L. Henry Award for Excellence in Clinical and Research Training, awarded to the top graduate student amongst all dental specialties.
Additionally, Dr. Waldman is the founder of the Multi-Disciplinary Group of Beverly Hills, a leading provider of continuing education for dentists in the greater Los Angeles area. He has published multiple clinical papers on original orthodontic techniques that he has developed and has been a featured speaker at many continuing education events, including the USC International Restorative Symposium, the USC Dental School Annual Part-Time Faculty Meeting, and multiple dental societies.
Carmen Marie Gonzalez