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Are you a laggard when it comes to talking to your patients?

Jan. 25, 2021
There are some technologies that are easier to adopt than others, and texting patients is one of them. If your dental practice isn't communicating with patients via text, it's time to start. Patients and staff will thank you.
Chris Salierno, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics

According to the technology adoption life cycle theory, new technologies are accepted by the market in five phases: first by innovators, followed by early adopters, early majority, late majority, and finally, laggards. Each stage describes the personalities of the market segments who are buying into a new product. If you’re using 3-D printing in your practice right now, I’d say you’re an innovator or an early adopter; I don’t think we’ve reached the early majority stage just yet. If you’re still developing film radiographs, I think we can agree that you’re a bit of a laggard on that front.

One of the interesting innovations to follow is patient communication by text and/or messaging. Unlike digital impression systems, which are specific to dentistry, texting is a technology that we share with many, many other industries. This means we can learn faster by observing other peoples’ successes and failures.

The statistics I’ve seen from sources such as pcmag.com and The Washington Post paint a clear picture: the majority of customers prefer texting or messaging from businesses rather than phone calls. This report from Small Business Trends states that 64% of customers prefer text to voice messages. I’d venture to guess that by now you’ve encountered text appointment reminders from at least your physician’s office or hair salon. So, what did you think? Was it convenient?

From the perspective of our patients, they can get text reminders, schedule appointments via a two-way chat, discuss payment arrangements, and much more, all without having to sit on hold or disrupt their day. From the perspective of your front desk team, they can automate scheduling and other patient engagement tasks without tying up the phones.

There are a number of companies that will help you bolt on these services to your practice management software. Curve recently released Curve GRO, which adds patient communication functionality to its existing cloud-based practice platform. Single platform solutions mean no bolting-on is necessary; the operations are seamless and can be tracked and audited.

I believe we’re getting into the late majority stage of patient communication. If you’re not offering your patients the convenience of text communication, then you should give it a serious look. Your patients and your front desk team will thank you for it.

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the former chief editor of Dental Economics. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. Additional content is available on his blog for dentists at thecuriousdentist.com. Dr. Salierno is the Chief Dental Officer at Tend. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Chris Salierno, DDS | Chief Editor, Dental Economics

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the chief editor of Dental Economics and the editorial director of the Principles of Practice Management and Group Practice and DSO Digest e-newsletters. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. He maintains a blog to answer patient questions at ToothQuest. Dr. Salierno maintains a private general practice in Melville, New York. You may contact him at [email protected].

Updated Dec. 4, 2020