Let’s face it. Going to the dentist isn’t nearly as painful as sitting in the waiting room. According to the American Dental Association, the average practice sees 2.5 patients per hour over the course of a year, and according to studies, the wait time can run between 10 to 30 minutes.
The latest Vitals Index reports that 84% of patients believe that the wait time is very important to the overall experience. Also, 44% of patients occupy themselves during that time by looking at a phone or electronic device.
Waiting rooms present dental practices with a unique opportunity to add to the customer experience the moment a patient walks through the door. The waiting room can determine how someone feels about the practice and whether they will return. Like with any first impression, you want to make a good one. Practices need to ask themselves whether old magazines and grimy toys are the image they want to portray.
One easy and affordable way to change the waiting room experience is to give it a digital makeover. By enhancing it with a few technological improvements, practices can better educate, engage, and entertain patients. Here are three simple and effective ways.
1. Invest in mobile or digital check-in tools—Useful for updating records, filling out new-patient forms and checking in patients, these tools also handle co-pays. Dentists can invest in an in-office kiosk that supports the reception function, or a mobile on-demand service that allows patients to check in before they arrive and get real-time updates about their wait status.
2. Keep the entertainment flowing and personalized—Alot of practices offer TV but it doesn’t give anything back. Sure, TV engages a captive audience, but educational shows tend to bore patients and it’s hard to find a channel that everyone likes. Plus, the cost of cable adds up. Richard Rogers, DDS, of Maryland was showing educational software on his TVs and it resulted in patients complaining about its monotony. So he brought in cable TV, but this also made patients antsy. Dr. Rogers realized he was missing an opportunity to market to his patients. The solution was a social TV platform that entertains patients with games and social media-powered TV feeds that cover a wide range of topics, including sports, humor, news, animals, and more. It also creates a marketing platform so Dr. Rogers can target patients with promotions while they’re waiting.
3. Make sure patients are plugged in—If they aren’t plugged in, they may plug out. That’s not a good thing. Not being able to access mobile data or having a dead battery can make wait times seem longer. Providers can offer perks such as free wi-fi with clear log-in details. Offices can also make power outlets easily accessible by offering a branded power charging station as an added convenience.
Waiting rooms are often a missed opportunity to build patient loyalty. Dentists can take advantage of new technologies to build a better patient experience and improve marketing. By digitizing their digs with cost-effective tools that will engage and excite, a trip to the dentist could actually be fun.