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Setting your practice up for success in 2022

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In the second episode of Rectangle Health’s 5 episode series on DentalCast Productions “Live with John”, Michelle Dowling, VP of Marketing and Taisha Ferrendelli, Director, Enterprise Product Delivery joined John Stamper to discuss how practices large and small, can meet patient expectations and set themselves up for a successful 2022. 

John Stamper 00:23

What’s going on, everybody? Good evening and welcome to another episode here on Live with John. Excited to be with you. And we are continuing our learning series with the amazing team from Rectangle Health. So this episode is setting your practice up for success in 2022. I guess I should say. Happy New Year, everybody. Right? So we’re into the new year and the amazing team that we have here today from Rectangle Health, they’re going to provide some insights from you that I’m really excited about. So before we get started, if you’re listening out there in podcast land, thank you for listening. Again, we want to give you some great content today. So before we get started, would love to introduce our guests today. And if you remember from our first episode, we had Brian and Micah.

And so as I was talking to these very successful ladies about this episode, they want to bring it home and provide great content just like Brian and Micah did in the first one. So for starters, we’ve got Michelle Dowling, who is the vice president of Marketing. Michelle, how are you doing? It’s so nice to see you.

Michelle Dowling 01:23

So nice to see you, John. Happy New Year. We’re really excited to be here and.

John Stamper 01:28

Tell everybody a little bit about how long you been at Rectangle Health and just a little bit about your story.

Michelle Dowling 01:23

Sure. I’ve been with Rectangle Health now a little over two years, but for the last eight years spent dedicated exclusively to healthcare with a strong focus on the dental industry. It really has been great to watch the dental industry grow and transform over the last several years, to really bring technology into the practice to enhance their revenue cycle and ultimately the provider and patient relationship.

John Stamper 02:02

Yeah, I love that. And you’ve got tons of experience, which I know you’re going to share with everybody here in just a second. All right. So as the director of Enterprise Product Delivery, I love that title. And this woman, as I’m learning, knows so much about this space. We have Taisha farndelli with us. How are you doing, Taisha?

Taisha Ferrendelli 02;19

Hey, John, I’m doing well. Thank you for having us. Happy New Year.

John Stamper 02:23

Happy New Year to you. So, yeah, a little bit about how long you been at Rectangle Health and a little bit about your story.

Taisha Ferrendelli 02:28

Oh, so excited to speak about Rectangle Health. I’ve been here for a year and a half and I have been in the industry for almost six years. So I originally started out in sales and then I worked my way into operations. So excited to support the large DSOs, the smaller practices. This is really my passion. So I’m excited to have the discussion today.

The Adoption of New Technology

John Stamper 02:53

Yeah, it’s so nice to have you. And I know Michelle and I were talking when it comes to somebody that has worked with practices on the implementation right, Michelle? Of really helping the practices put this technology into what they’re doing on a daily basis. That’s why Taisha is going to go through with us today. And we’re just going to have a conversation. Everybody, again, we’ve got some great topics to talk about. I want to frame it out like this. How many of us, as we start a New Year, have New Year’s resolutions and things that we want to accomplish? And then how many times do we find ourselves like just 30 days from now in February, and in many cases not following through with a lot of those resolutions?

And I know when we think about technologies in your dental practice and you think about setting yourself up for success, we know a big part of that is implementation. And so Michelle, I want to start with you in kind of going down the path of how practices can evolve and I think more importantly, invest in themselves to make sure that they’re going to be successful in 2022 and the things that they could do. So maybe a great place to start.

Michelle Dowling 03:51

Of course. Thanks, John. I think that it’s important when we consider the utilization and adoption of technology over the long term that we’re still humans who need to use it practically and on a day to day basis. So when we talk about investing in yourself and in the practice yourself, and we’re talking about efficiencies that we can create these solutions may feel like they are something that is unattainable to really think, how will it affect me today? So it’s important to remember that when we talk about it, that healthcare is an emotional experience and that one that really relies on a human connection.

So I think when we talk to practices about what they can do to invest in themselves, we want to bring to light that healthcare, that technology is not just adding on new processes, but creating new experiences, social experiences, connection between the provider and the patient. And we’re looking to blend the physical with the digital so that it creates a very seamless, fluid interaction. And at our last podcast, Micah and Brian discussed pain points and patient payments and receiving payments. And it all comes down to the need to communicate with patients effectively and efficiently. And today’s, practices more than ever need to determine where to place their time and energy because they need to be sure that their investment is going to be worthwhile. So how we help them identify where to invest, and Taisha is critical to this is there’s so many competing demands.

We help them identify where small changes can be made that create large benefits. So for instance, even just shaving a day off in accounts receivable positively affects cash flow so that it could free up finances for other places that are needed elsewhere in the practice. Even having patients and staff adapt to these new offerings such as text to pay or online payments, oftentimes they don’t know if patients are really going to adopt them. They feel a little unsure whether or not, if they take the leap, that’s actually going to turn into something that is useful. What we’ve determined is that our patients today actually do want a convenient digital experience. So I think that we have to balance things that sound really good on paper with the practicality of that.

And that’s where I really do think people like Taisha whose experience and the ways that she can walk through practices step by step, phase by phase, is really the best way to start implementing any type of new technology or new practices.

John Stamper 06:40

I love that, Michelle. And it’s interesting. When you and I first started talking about putting together this learning series, I know one of the things that was very important to you and very important to the team at Rectangle Health was making that connection between the human aspect and the technology. Because, as you said, so eloquently and is such an important part of this is that in the last three to five years, we all know there’s been an explosion of technologies in the dental practice. And it’s kind of like going to the buffet, right? It’s easy to get excited about a lot of these.

There’s a lot of good energy behind them, what they mean in theory, but actually implementing it in your practice, getting your team excited about them and then you mentioned it, which is taking that leap and making sure that your patients are going to adapt to it is a huge risk for dental practice. And so I’m glad that you mentioned that along the lines of that human aspect, which I think is really exciting. Taisha so what about larger organizations? So when we think about a lot of these technologies, we think about, okay, like one practice, we can get it implemented, we feel comfortable about it or what have you.

But when you’re talking about larger organizations, particularly a lot of practices that are looking to acquire practices across town and so on and so forth, can you kind of talk about that whole piece of this?

Taisha Ferrendelli 07:50

Yes. Perfect. Thank you. John. If I could just go to the beginning. So when a lot of these dental offices open up a practice, they take on a component of the business. And what we’re starting to see as far as the trend in the industry is a lot of Dsos and service providers coming in and helping with that aspect because really the dentist is focused on caring for their patient. And our goal is to work with the Dsos, the larger organizations, to help with that component, to create more efficiency to meet the practice where they are today and to create a business plan to get them where they want to be in the future. So we really consult with those larger Dsos to come up with a strategy for change management, for getting some people in their organization to advocate for.

Here’s the new solutions, here’s how we can quickly get it implemented and successfully with little disruption to the patient. And we create that frictionless process and we offer a solution that interfaces with any practice management software. So that really helps when it comes to creating the best process for the larger organizations that is looking for a streamlined process and a digital transformation.

A Focus on the Patient

John Stamper 09:10

Yeah, it’s interesting because, Michelle, you mentioned one of the benefits when technologies are implemented in the practice. You talked about just a day or two on accounts receivable and what that cash flow means. And then I think about Taisha, what you’re talking about in the sense of an individual practice wanting to scale, wanting to have multiple practices. I have had numerous conversations with Dennis over the years that will say, you know what, I got my one practice to the point where it’s very profitable and we’re growing. And then I took on another. And when I got to three, four, five and six, some of those challenges I never would have thought I would have had to deal with, they had to deal with, and things got a lot challenging.

So when I think about, number one, Michelle, the ability for this cash flow to free up so they can make these great decisions and then like you said, Taisha, the support there to actually help that and build those efficiencies is crucial. So I love that, Michelle. All right, so when we talk technically about a lot of this, what are some of the solutions I guess both small and large organizations need to pivot towards to most importantly, make sure that the patients are happy when it’s all said and done?

Michelle Dowling 10:15

Sure. One thing that we hear so much about now that has definitely evolved is the idea of patient loyalty and patient satisfaction. And because it means so much to the practice now and retention of patients is so crucial, it’s important to rectangle health because we want to create the right tools and the right solutions for them to deliver that care. So the way we think about our software is really how it operates as part of the total ecosystem. At the dentist office, we like to come alongside. We’re not trying to disrupt. Like Taisha said, we really become a bridge to making sure that what’s happening at the practice is flowing seamlessly into all the systems that happen in the back end.

So we can talk about technical features, but they really describe the path to patient satisfaction and it illustrates a specific experience that we can identify with in our daily lives. So, for instance, we’ve heard it said that patients want a retail like experience when it comes to healthcare. But healthcare isn’t retail. And code, you can receive a customized link as an appointment reminder or a way to make payment. But that really just makes it clearer and simpler for the patient, which allows them to have a more convenient experience and that’s what creates the satisfaction. So how we define loyalty is really based on the solid foundation of clinical quality care. And then from there you can build on the patient experience from an administrative process.

So giving and having accessibility through digital appointment settings and reminders or really truly how we supplement the financial experience, including the billing process. And then finally the interaction at the practice, specifically these contactless check in and check out procedures that just make it more easy to get in and out of the practice are ways that we’re seeing ultimately driving patient satisfaction, driving loyalty that relies in a consistent, transparent and connected experience.

John Stamper 12:30

Yeah, there’s no question. And when I think about conversations that patients have with family members and friends when they’re talking about a new practice that they went to, or a practice implement some new things, rarely do you see them at the table, open their mouth and show them how nice their crown looks, right. What they say to them is, can you believe how quickly they got me in and out? I was able to handle everything. They had some concerns on the infection control, like you talked about the contactless payments and all of that. And so Taisha, one of the things I want to ask you is that I think what’s so cool about these newer technologies is are the AHA moments, right? When a practice actually makes that decision, they implement these things and then they contact.

You guys are like, oh my gosh, I never realized. I kind of had an idea this was going to be the benefit. So can you talk to that just about some of those AHA moments and some of the things you hear from practices when they do actually implement a lot of these solutions?

Taisha Ferrendelli 13:29

Yes, so I think there’s so many. One of the main AHA moments is that with the rectangle health solutions, as Michelle mentioned, we are a bridge onto the efficiencies and solutions that the practice is already offering, but the engaging tools. So we have like text to pay features which allows the practice to communicate with their patient when it comes to appointments or inviting them to make a payment at their convenience. Then you also have the ability for the patients to pay online at any given time. And one of the main things that’s so important to the staff and also to the physicians is just making sure they can keep the financing in house because that relationship is really built between the physician and the patient.

So being able to offer payment plan, which they can allocate smaller payment, amounts to a larger balance where they can still care for that patient. So those are some of the main AHA moments we see.

John Stamper 14:33

Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up, because, Michelle, I think about sitting in a dental practice, and I think about those practices that, for whatever it’s worth, the size of the practice or their new team members trying to have those financial conversations right at the front desk or in an area where the patient may not feel comfortable. And in this world that we live in now, with all the changes that patients, consumers have had to go through, let’s call it like it is, I mean, everybody’s finances are a personal thing and they want them to be respected. I think that’s another great point, Tysha, that you bring up is that and Michelle, I think what’s interesting is that you’ve been doing this for some time.

I know were talking about this as were kind of putting this whole thing together, both you and Taisha, you guys have been doing this together for a long time. You guys may not realize this, but they’ve been kind of lockstep in, maybe moving a lot of this stuff forward. What has it been like? What has this journey and experience been like for you? You’ve always been a relationship person. I’ve known you from that perspective that, yes, technology is a big piece of this, but it’s important that the customers and the patients and the practices understand how to use it. Can you just talk a little bit about what this journey has been like for you?

Michelle Dowling 15:39

Sure. We started out, Taisha and I, what, five, six years ago. Really just trying to educate and inform about best practices.

And it was mostly about how to take as many types of credit cards as you could possibly take or make sure that you had the latest and greatest terminal sitting on your counter. And then we really veered into software where the software became so instrumental in connecting to the practice management system that’s where it really started to become very interesting because that automation allowed for a lot of manual burdening tasks to be freed up at the staff level. So we’ve always been trying to talk about it and bring this to light.

And now working with Rectangle Health, what we’ve seen is that we actually have a platform that will allow the practice to be able to do more focused events that are happening in front of them so that most of these things that are happening online or overnight or just through text messaging doesn’t have to reside with the person who’s sitting at the front desk. And these tools were really built on the understanding of the challenges faced by the practice and the patients every day. So to Taisha’s point, it gives care a brand new meaning at the practice. It frees up so much of the things that we feel that we’ve seen complaints about, or if I only could and we work with both the office manager and the practitioner or the dentist.

And quite frequently what we hear is that the office manager is really desperate for these tools so that it can make their lives easier to make sure that things are moving at the front desk quickly and efficiently. When we talk to the practitioner, they have a little bit of a different take on tools like this because they’re not using them every single day. But when we’re able to connect them and when the office manager feels comfortable and confident in the tools and the effect they’re going to be adopted by the patient, they have a better case to stand on. And we find that once the practitioner, once the provider is able to see it, how it will benefit, things really start to change at the practice for the better.

And I think that in wake of having these difficult financial conversations, they’re not going to go away. But when we implement a tool like Practice Management Bridge, or when you have access to text to Pay, or like Taisha was saying, these flexible payment plans, what happens is you start to reduce anxiety at the patient and you create more space for the provider to have a conversation focused on care and treatment. Not having that financial conversation. Follow them into the treatment room. That’s really what we try to eliminate is that fear and stress that accompanies every patient to every visit can be handled before they even step into the office or even just a little bit more.

Like Taisha said, installment payments, smaller bites over time that still get the practice paid, that still create that revenue stream, but yet allow some connection to be made and conversations to be made. And that’s, I think, what’s the most important for us. That’s the care that we’re after.

John Stamper 19:33

Yeah. And you mentioned the word implement and Tisha, I’m just going to say this. I’ve had an opportunity to speak with a lot of your team members at Rectangle Health, and they love your energy, they love the value that you bring to the table, and you are known as like, the implementer. And so if I’m a dental practice watching right now, who knows that I’m going to put something into my practice, a new technology, I want to know that the company that I’m working with has an implementer, right? Somebody that passionately knows not only how to train and educate, like Michelle just mentioned, but also somebody that can actually help us get into the day to day operations. And I know that’s something that you do. You’re very passionate about that. Touch on that, right?

What is it about your energy of really wanting to take this technology and help a practice get it from A to Z so that they’re using it on a daily basis and they’re really able to take advantage of a lot of the things that Michelle talked about?

Taisha Ferrendelli 20:21

Great question and thank you. I’m so happy. I love the rectangle health team. But the main thing is just having a consultative approach. You really have to understand what the practice business needs are as well as their organization. Because anytime you are implementing a solution, you have to give options that are user based. So if we are discussing recurring payment plans, we need to know if you have seat visits, do you require your patients to pay 50% up front? And then this is how you break down smaller payments. If you are accepting payments only in office, we need to know that. So when we train your team on using the solution, it makes sense to them.

And it’s more that we are offering a solution that help their practice needs and help their patients versus us just pushing our own agenda off, like merchant services in general. It’s just understanding where that customer is being able to provide the solution, getting them a strategic plan to get it implemented as quickly as possible and making sure you have all the correct sponsors and stakeholders involved in the process. From corporate level, practice level to project management level. Everyone has to be one accord and that’s the difference. We care and we do what’s best by the organization in order to get those accounts implemented because we understand what they need.

John Stamper 21:45

Yeah, I love that. And when I think about dental practices in 2022, I think about a time when many of them operated the same, looked the same, right? Many of them had the same magazines on the table in the waiting room. And with all these creative solutions and all the technologies, what’s been so fun to watch dentistry as it has actually grown is how different each practice is. And to your point, as a technology solution provider and the work that you guys are doing, you have to cater to the way that they want to run their service. Or as you guys know, it’s going to be very difficult in order to get a lot of that implementation. What I wanted to share with the both of you is I’m sure you see this on a daily basis is patients, consumers.

That’s really what we all are. We’re all patients going to our dental practices. We have this new demand, right? When we go into a practice, we want to feel like a lot of the processes that we’re utilizing there with payments and financing works like everywhere else where we go and we consume services. And I think, Michelle, you mentioned it, which is we never really used to look at health care like that and we need to now as a practice, right, you need to make sure because that’s what the patient expects. But in the same regard, I think the both of you did a really good job of touching on how important it is to make sure that the human element still stays a part of that. Because without that, it doesn’t matter how great the technology is it’s not going to get implemented.

So, Michelle, any final thoughts as we kind of talk about practices really setting themselves up for success in 2022, investing in themselves?

How to Set Your Practice Up for Success in 2022.

Michelle Dowling 23:15

Absolutely. I would love to encourage practices who have thought about this and had hope for it and maybe felt that it wasn’t the right time or I can’t get the dentist to buy in, that they really find a way. To come together to make that goal happen, to make that change happen, to not be afraid that it’s going to take too long or it’s not going to be worthwhile. To take that leap of faith into integrating these digital tools to make better workflows, to reduce waste, to make sure that time and money are being saved as much as possible this year. Because we’re still in a series of ups and downs and we’re still working through a lot of challenge that’s going to come.

So if we can help take one thing off their plate that makes it a little bit easier so that when they’re delivering value to their patients, they can get to more of the people that need their treatment. And if they can just lean on our tools that are designed for them to utilize intuitively and foundationally to make those changes, I really hope that they feel inspired to make that change and to find a way to present those options to the provider so they can see some benefit happen to the office. Because we know that the staff is stretched thin. We know that people are looking for remote environments. We know that it’s very hard hiring right now, so we hope that our solution would help them and it’d be something that’s there for them to take advantage of, to lean on.

John Stamper 25:08

Like we said, there’s no question there has never been a better time for so many practices because of all the variables, to really lean into these solutions and commit to them and really see the benefit they can have. I mean, I think about a practice has a couple of challenging months and then voila, they look at their AR and say, wow, could you imagine if we could like you said, Michelle, just take a little bit of this and what that cash flow would mean for the practice is really a big deal. So excited there. And then taisha as we wrap. Any final thoughts as we’re sharing some ideas and the work that you guys are doing to help practices be successful in 2022?

Taisha Ferrendelli 25:48

Yeah, I echo a lot of the sentiment that Michelle gave. I would just challenge the practices today to maybe make a list of a lot of the manual processes that they have today and how we can save them time by implementing some automation into their practice. And also think about some of the ways that they can create a more engaging experience for their patient. Because at the end of the day, they care for their patients, and we’re just looking for better ways to help them. Not only service their patients, but get their staff paid sooner, also make it more convenient for their patients to be able to pay them and just implement some technology that we’re going to start to see for years to come.

They should just be some of the first ones to jump on the bandwagon and work with a company that’s willing to work in tandem with them to consult them and be able to provide a successful implementation plan.

John Stamper 26:47

So we are only into the first week of the year, but that is the best tip I’ve heard so far. Michelle, sit down and write the manual processes that you are doing. I love that, Taisha, when you visually see if there’s five, if there’s ten, if there’s 15, and connect that with what that means to the practice and certainly great stuff. Well, ladies, I want to thank you so much. This has been awesome. Always a pleasure speaking with you and I know you guys are doing such great work at Rectangle Health and I want to let everybody know they’ve got a whole team there to support all of you and have actually created a landing page specifically for this learning series. So you can go ahead and schedule a consultation. It’s Rectanglehealth.com Live, so an easy URL there.

It’s Rectanglehealth.com Live, so be sure to click on that. You can click on the link right below us. You can see that in the comments thread. Be sure to click on that and set up a consultation. So I also want to let you know we’re going to continue this learning series with Rectangle Health. They’ve got more great guests coming up here at the beginning part of this year so that you can learn more about the great story of this company as well as the great things they’re doing to help dental practices move forward. So, Michelle, Taisha, thank you so much and have an awesome new year. Thanks.

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