New Futuredontics’ report examines the changing role of dental office managers

New survey reveals that dental office managers are happier with the way things are going in their positions than in years past, but there's still some room for improvement.

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When you want the straight story on how the business side of dentistry is changing, you ask the people who work on the frontlines every day – dental practice office managers. We’ve done just that. Futuredontics followed up our 2013 survey of practice management professionals with an all-new study that gave office managers the opportunity to share valuable, personal insights on what it takes to run a successful practice. The results have been compiled in an exclusive free report entitled, “The Changing Role of the Dental Office Manager.”

Happy Dental Office ManagerOur comprehensive 22-page report analyzes the results of the online survey of dental office managers conducted in the fall of 2014. A total of 1,064 managers nationwide completed the survey. The goal was to examine how dental office managers view a wide range of dental practice business operations, including new patient acquisition and appointing, social media, online reviews, dormant patient reactivation, patient communications, and practice marketing.

The report found that dental office managers are much more upbeat about the state of their profession than they were two years ago. While still being held accountable for a growing list of practice duties, office managers report that the time being spent on each activity is more appropriately balanced than in previous years, due in part to widespread increases in staffing and adoption of various industry tools and services.

Compared with 2013, office managers feel there have been significant improvements in many areas they had previously identified as problematic. One of the most notable is appointing. Many managers are now blocking out time in their schedule that enables them to offer new patients same-day or next-day appointments. As this trend continues and more practices commit to seeing new patients within 48 hours, the impact on show-up rates and production should be considerable.

Large strides have also been made in embracing digital communication. Both in practice marketing and patient communication, office managers revealed a transition away from print media and more utilization of email, text messaging, and online sites and services. In an industry that is traditionally slow to adopt new technology, this is a significant achievement for dental office managers.

There are two areas in dentistry where most practices still appear to be behind the curve, and these should be a primary focus going forward. The first is Yelp. Office managers consistently view online reviews as important, but fewer than 50% have claimed their practice profile on the most popular reviews site in the world. Yelp can no longer be ignored, and becoming active in this space should be an immediate priority.

Second, online and after-hours appointing are here to stay. At a minimum, a practice website should allow patients to request an appointment, but fewer than half of dental practices currently offer this feature. Allowing patients to actually make an appointment after hours is increasingly becoming an expectation for tech-savvy consumers, and practices that don’t adapt will forfeit significant potential growth. This is an area where office managers need to lead the practice into new territory, whether by having phone calls route to a staff member’s phone, or by using a service such as 1-800-DENTIST that offers round-the-clock appointing.

Key findings from The Dental Office Manager’s Changing Role survey:

  • The area that has grown most in perceived importance since 2013 is online reviews.
  • The top four areas where office managers feel they spend “too little time” are: staff training, practice marketing, social media, and dormant patient reactivation.
  • 49% of dental practices do not interact with Yelp, nor do they plan to in the future.
  • Yellow Page ads are in sharp decline, with a 34% decrease in use since 2013.
  • Compared with two years ago, the number of dental practices that schedule a new patient within the first 48 hours has increased by 17%.
  • Dental offices are generally not engaging in online and after-hours appointing as much as consumer demand dictates.
  • Postcard usage for appointment reminders has fallen by 28% in the last two years, while email and text messaging have increased.
  • Approximately 60% of office managers say the practice has recently hired and now has enough staff to support the number of duties they’re being asked to perform.

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To get your free copy of “The Changing Role of the Dental Office Manager” and demo of Futuredontics’ suite of dental marketing solutions, call 855-264-6864 or visit http://futuredontics.com/OMSurveyResults.

Fred JoyalFred Joyal is the founder of Futuredontics®, the industry leader in dental marketing solutions and parent company of 1-800-DENTIST®. He is the author of the bestselling book “Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth,” and the host of a popular series of dental marketing webinars and online videos. Fred is a sought-after speaker and the owner of the weekly blog, GoAskFred.com, which explores a variety of industry topics like how Yelp, online patient reviews, and mobile search affect practice growth.

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