How Important Is an Online Presence for Dental Practices?

Why Is an Online Presence Important for Dental Practices?

Dental practices tend to have loyal patients who stay with them for years and recommend them to their friends and family. Many haven’t yet felt the pressure to establish a website and instead rely on their good reputations throughout their communities to attract new patients.

But as consumers increasingly start the search for new products and services – including healthcare – online, it’s important for dentists to consider an online presence to both reach new patients and improve the overall experience for the patients they already have. By modernizing patient engagement, dental practices can ensure a stable patient base for years to come.

Reaching New Patients

Approximately 71% of dental practices have a website, according to research by Ciro, which is a good indication that dental practices realize the importance of a digital presence.

Jeff Gladnick, who founded Great Dental Websites, a company that builds and manages software platforms specifically for dental practices, can certainly vouch for the growing demand for modern, operational dental websites. As Gladnick explained on Rectangle Health’s Modern Practice Podcast, he originally started the company in 2010 as a side business mostly for family members who work in dentistry. But after just a couple years, it became his full-time business.

“Halfway through the project, they started referring colleagues who weren’t related to me,” he said, adding that by the time he launched the company, he already had about two dozen clients.

Gladnick’s websites feature dentists prominently to give potential patients a sense of who they are. This is accomplished by allowing the dentists to become true partners in the marketing process. “What we need them to do is produce some content. So, we want to have a video of the dentist explaining the service or procedure in  30 to 60 seconds,” he explained. “We want their personality to come through. That’ll help inspire confidence for people who have a dental phobia.”

But what about the other third of dentistry practices that don’t have websites that can be found on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.?

According to Ross Geiger, co-founder of Ciro, some dental practices aren’t  concerned about ‘catching up.’ “A large number of those practices just have steady patient flow already, typically through word of mouth,” he said. “They don’t see any need for a website to keep that patient base steady.”

Still, there is a question of whether relying on word-of-mouth patient referrals and overall familiarity is sustainable. Even in small towns where everyone knows each other, outside factors can cause major shifts. For example, a large local employer could relocate, resulting in a substantial portion of the population also relocating. Therefore, adopting a website may be a prudent way for dental practices to ensure consistent business.

Furthermore, a good dental website can also incorporate online payment capabilities, scheduling tools, and last-minute cancellation solutions. Gladnick noted that when he first started his business, many dental practices requested that their websites be equipped with payment services. That was when he partnered with Rectangle Health. “It was very easy to integrate into our system and our software,” he said. “That was a natural partnership that fulfilled a need that our customers had.”

Gladnick added that having easy payment capabilities can make a drastic difference in a dental practice’s cash flow. “You really have to give your patients options for paying as quickly and seamlessly as possible,” he said. “This should be one of the easiest interactions with the practice they have.””

But there are ways in which practices can still be found online and support patients’ digital preferences, even without a website. Dentist offices should ensure that they are findable on Google, Yelp and social media platforms. Additionally, they can still implement technology solutions like online bill pay, which enable patients to make payments quickly and easily with their mobile devices.

Looking Ahead

Whether it’s adopting a website or investing in new technology, dentists have a lot to consider in the coming years. Many will do just fine by relying on their hard-earned reputation, but there’s no doubt the additional exposure of a website and convenience of digital ways for patients to engage and pay can help enhance and grow the business.

To learn more about how digital payments solutions can simplify and improve the patient experience at your practice, download Rectangle Health’s online eBook.

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