Tracking expert predictions on future trends in dentistry is one of the things a geek like me enjoys. Planning for the future requires us to anticipate the future. We may not be right in our predictions…but it never hurts to be prepared.
Admittedly, some predictions are far easier to make than others. For instance, we can be pretty confident that increased levels of automation are going to impact our offices moving forward. Hardly going out on a limb with that one!
Still, too many offices fail to plan for how they will adapt to such change. Even with the benefit of seeing how existing technology is used in other industries, too many dental offices fail to consider how it might be applied in dentistry.
Consider the digitization of the front office. The use of electronic confirmation systems have already started us down this path. Texting or emailing appointment reminders has become quite normal in many offices.
But we still expect patients to call the office if they need to reschedule. However, the millennial and Generation Y groups do not like the phone! They might text or email if they cannot make an appointment, but they won’t call.
In fact, they would prefer to access your calendar directly and reschedule their own appointment! After all, that is how they schedule many other meetings!
So far, dentistry has resisted this trend. But by 2020, this may become normal. Modern, forward-thinking dentists may provide this convenience to appeal to those patients. Even more, patients may soon be able to check-in electronically when they arrive for their appointment… the same way they order food at McDonald’s, pick up movie tickets, check into their flight.
The same electronic device may be used to update a medical history. No fuss. No paper. No people!
That is right… no people!
That means a reduction in the points of human contact at the same time that we stress the importance of the overall patient experience as being the defining competitive advantage you may have over other offices. Consequently, the experience we provide at the remaining contact points will have to be that much more meaningful.
Those who fail to make those contact points more meaningful could see their level of case acceptance dramatically reduced. If you are unable to convince a patient to accept treatment, there may be fewer opportunities for another team member to help make a difference.
Perhaps you will now consider altering the patient flow in your office to include quality time with a properly trained treatment coordinator. Or you will take it upon yourself to spend more time educating patients on their oral health needs.
Whatever strategy you adopt, increased emphasis on effective communication will be critical. So if you struggle with communication skills, now is the time to change that.
Because as soon as 2020, the quality of your patient interactions will have to improve dramatically to compensate for the decline in their quantity!