Oral Health Group
Feature

To App or Not to App

September 2, 2021
by Beau Peters


Technology has made its way to the healthcare industry, changing the way patient care is handled on a variety of levels. Telehealth and teledentistry are two prime examples. Though they were already on the rise, the COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in telehealth, with 46 percent of patients saying they use telehealth for some visits, compared with 11 percent in 2019.

People expect their healthcare providers—including dentists—to be up to date with technology. It makes their lives more convenient and gives them a sense of control. One of the best ways to do that is with a mobile application.

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Why would a dental practice need a mobile app? There are plenty of reasons and even greater benefits to consider. Leading dental practices rely on solution-based applications to keep their business organized, running smoothly, and improving the overall patient experience.

If you’ve been on the fence about investing in an app for your practice, let’s cover a few of the benefits and drawbacks you should consider before making a decision.

Pro – It can cover almost any daily issue
Think about some of the common issues your practice has to deal with every day. Your running list might include:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Emergencies
  • Pulling patient information
  • Fostering trust

A mobile application can help you to manage all of those things from one convenient location. That will also help you utilize your staff and resources more effectively and efficiently. Mobile health has different benefits for patients and providers, but some of the “pros” that you and your patients will enjoy include things like visible records, monitoring, and communication.

Your patients can use your app as a way to check on their appointments and know what to expect. But, you can also use it as a marketing tool to feature different “deals” you might be running or discounts you can offer to get them to check out the app more often.

Most importantly, you can utilize your mobile app to stay connected with patients. It’s estimated that almost 75 percent of adults have some sort of fear when it comes to the dentist. You can help to ease those worries or even concerns after the fact by providing a teledentistry experience through your app. Teledentistry allows you to provide virtual consultations to patients who can’t make it in. It also can help you to establish more trust with that patient, so they’ll be more comfortable for their next appointment.

Pro – Payment collection
Another perk of having a mobile application is the ability to accept payments 24/7. Most consumers today are used to paying bills online, and even with the swipe of their finger on a mobile device. If you make your payment process just as easy and convenient, your patients are more likely to pay on time.

When you offer a bill payment option on your mobile app, you’re putting your patients in control of their payment so they don’t have to wait for “snail mail” or worry about forgetting a bill they’ve had sitting on their counter for weeks. Instead, you can send them the initial bill through the app, and several reminders so they’re more likely to make the payment.

When you simplify the payment process, you’ll deal with fewer delinquent accounts. Those gentle reminders also increase your visibility, reminding your patients to schedule appointments in the future. The only word of caution here is to make sure you’re positively reminding patients. No one wants to be badgered about money. Think about your approach from a marketing standpoint, and your patients will appreciate it rather than feel annoyed by it.

Con – You’ll wear many hats
Chances are you went to dental school and started a practice because you have a passion for oral medicine. Your curriculum likely didn’t cover things like:

  • Marketing
  • IT
  • Accounting
  • Development
  • Scheduling

When you have a mobile app, it can make life easier for you and your practice. But, there’s a learning period to consider. As the owner of a practice, you should have, at least, a basic idea of the functions of your app so you can market it to patients. If you’re not willing to do that or don’t have the time, you won’t be able to use the app to its full ability.

You’ll also have to be in charge of maintaining it or hiring a developer to get the job done. Unfortunately, that can be time-consuming and costly. So, while the app can certainly make your practice money, it’s also an investment.

Finally, you’ll have to be fully aware of the data risks that could potentially be involved. Make sure you understand HIPAA rules before you share any healthcare information on a mobile device.

Weighing out the pros and cons of mobile applications will make the decision easier for you. Mobile apps are here to stay, and even if you decide not to go for one now, it’s something to consider for the future. Doing so will help your practice remain relevant and one step ahead of your competition.


About the Author

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.


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