To say these are hard times for dentistry and the rest of the nation is an understatement. While your practice is closed for all but emergencies and your staff is worrying at home, I found something that might help. A dentist friend of mine founded a software company that is offering free video conferencing for everybody.
Dr. Sam Ahani originally built Refera to automate the referral process. As a GP, he was always troubled when he referred cases to specialists and then never knew if the patient went, when treatment was complete, or whether the case needed follow up work. When Sam investigated, he discovered 30-40% of referred patients never go, and the specialists had no clue.
So Sam invented Refera. Sam refers all endo cases to the endodontist next door. Once they were both on Refera, that endodontist saw a 50% increase in patients in the chair from Sam’s office (from 12 patients per month to 18). You know RCT fees and can do the math: six more patients per month equals 72 more per year, or another $80,000 to $100,000 of production from just one referring office! Texting patients the referral and reminders help, and automatically informing the endodontist who has been referred helps even more. Sam also saw a 30% increase to his own bottom line from using Refera. Those RCT patients need to come back for a CBU and crown, and that’s a lot of production.
What does this have to do with COVID-19 and saving your practice? A lot! Refera includes a secure HIPAA-compliant video conference feature. This was designed to help GPs and specialists discuss cases while showing models, x-rays, and CBCT scans. Recently Sam has been using it for teledentistry sessions with nervous patients. He remotely ensures they’re complying with treatment, checks if they need a new aligner, or assess whether their dental emergency warrants in-office treatment. Sam has also been conducting weekly huddles to keep his staff reassured and motivated.
Sam is offering Refera and this teledentistry component free to everybody, both during this pandemic and afterward. This is something you’ll get a lot of use out of now to maintain patient and staff loyalty, and even market to new patients.
Medical insurance has been pushing telemedicine for years, and now it’s common with everybody stuck at home. Just offering your patients the option of teledentistry will reinforce the image of your practice as cutting edge and patient-focused. In addition, teledentistry will free up your chair for more productive procedures when you can check aligners or discuss treatment options remotely for five minutes, instead of taking up a valuable half-hour of office time.
Because many insurance plans are now accepting teledentistry as a procedure, it will also become a big part of your future. Patients accustomed to telemedicine will expect and appreciate a teledentistry option. This is finally becoming the new norm—and it’s about time dentistry started adopting a technology that has been common in other industries for over a decade.
I’ve played with Refera and the video conference myself, and I can tell you it’s really easy to use. Even if you can barely open your email, you’ll be able to use this. It took me 42 seconds to create a free Refera account (yes, I timed myself), and you can’t miss the big video chat button. Your patients receive a text inviting them to a video conference that requires just one click, so there’s no learning curve for them either.
I hope this helps you and your practice. For now, we all have to get innovative and try new things during this period of uncertainty and isolation. And afterward, we’ll need to get even more creative to rebuild our businesses and come out of this strong. I’m thrilled I can bring you a technology that is easy, useful, solves short- and long-term problems, and is free.
If you have any comments or suggestions please post them in the comments below. I look forward to hearing your feedback and thoughts!