July 8, 2020

Dental Groups Up Their Patient Engagements in the COVID-19 Era

Dental groups are slowly opening their practices again in a changed environment that public health experts say could be the norm for months, if not years. For many patients, receiving dental care now will be a significant departure from what they were used to. Some may have concerns about safety; others may be unfamiliar with new digital options and processes that have augmented face-to-face care during the past few months.

As your patients are asked to adapt, customer service becomes an even higher priority.


Do more to make the patient’s dental experience convenient, flexible and efficient, while showing them that your organization is empathetic to their personal and financial situations. This requires providing each patient with meaningful communication, instructions and guidance at each step of their journey, including pre- and post-visit.

Start by making sure your website has up-to-date information on what your patients can expect before and during their visit. Ideally, it also should include an online payment portal that enables patients to review their account information and set up payments.

Surveys show that patients increasingly want the convenience of digital interactions. Use digital conversations to prepare them for visits. Make it easy for patients to schedule an appointment via phone, email or your web portal. Let them know what to expect during check-in, including an option for contact-less check-ins through a parking lot waiting room application that notifies front office via text when a patient arrives, what to bring, and which digital forms to fill out before their visit. If communicating via text or email, send them links to electronic registration forms they can complete prior to their visit.

Showing empathy also means being flexible about each patient’s financial situation and how it may have changed since the pandemic. Providing an online payment portal that gives patients options to pay their balances in full, set up a payment plan based on their own financial situation, and sign-up for electronic statements will go a long way towards making them feel valued and understood—and statistically is proven to increase payment rates.

Digital technologies can help you close common gaps in the dental patient’s financial journey. For example, practices can start to share what a visit will cost ahead of the procedure to set proper expectations and possibly collect some payments up-front. Or they can shorten the lag time between a visit and receiving a payment by sending digital payment reminders to review and pay their bills online. These efficiencies can improve your revenue cycle and give patients tools they desire.

Digital tools, when implemented properly, can help ensure a consistent and positive patient experience across your practices. And post-visit digital communications can enable you to get instant patient feedback on their visit and insight into how to improve it. Actively engaging with your patients by using the communications and payment methods they prefer is an important step in ensuring they keep coming back.