It’s good to know we are not alone in our quest to make sense of technology for dentists….as a critical tool for improving everything in their operation (not just patient acquisition).

Today the Wall Street Journal ran a front page story about micropractices, which said “Some physicians and institutions are trying to harness technology to make family practices more manageable and profitable for doctors.” Amen to that, I say.

Well, I’ve got news for you: Dentists need to do this, too! In fact, in this competitive day and age, dentists have no choice. The bigger message dentists should take away from this article is that technology is not an add-on anymore, it’s a necessity if you want to improve your practice’s profitability, growth, and customer satisfaction.

Here’s why…tech can help you improve your patient experience from start to finish…from finding you, to the reminder platform for appointments, ongoing newsletters made easy, customized wellness mailings based on diagnosis, getting timely feedback from your patients, sharing with them positive anecdotes, creating two-way communication via ‘ask the dentist’ features on a web-site, etc…

It helps you with profitability as you can better plan your days and utilization of your time and your staff, you can process your claims faster (one of our board members Fred Horowitz has a great electronic claims management company named www.ansdirect.com – one of many players in the area but they help dentists get reimbursed much faster, lessen the hassle of dealing with the carriers, etc…), reduce appointment no-shows, and lower the costs of mailings, etc…Fred’s so passionate about it, he leads an industry association on the topic http://www.cooperativeexchange.org/

Personally, as a happy dental patient (thank you Dr. Tedford), I can tell you that I appreciate immediate access to tips from my dentist, emergency questions and answers, targeted content, etc…if you are not thinking about this, someone else will.

And it’s great to see more and more dentists—and reporters—finally coming around to this reality. Over on The Solo Practitioner blog, Dr. Vincent Pedre is spot-on in his passionate assessment of micropractices. I couldn’t agree more that modern technology makes it easier to achieve an ideal practice environment without extra staff or expenses.

Dental Practice Report had an article in the February issue by Keith Rossein that starts with….”Can a dental practice exist without a dot.com presence in 2007? Yes, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult.” Keith’s right.

Notice a trend here? We sure do and are happy to be a part of it. Just this week, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Jackson of Planet DDS( http://www.planetdds.com/ ). They have built a web-based practice management platform that is much less expensive and easier to manage than the old software platforms dentists used to have to install (it’s the ASP model for those of you who know the jargon). If you are a dentist and you haven’t seen it, you should. Because it is hosted by them (think of your e-mail, which you can access securely from any computer with an internet connection), they can constantly upgrade it and improve it without the hassle of re-installing the software.

Be sure to watch this space to hear first-hand commentary from Chicago dentists who are using these technologies and more (including BRINGOdentist.com, of course!), and will discuss the benefits, challenges, and tips to using technology in your practice. There’s lots of good stuff just becoming available. The wave is building (so are the cliche’s).

Okay, that’s all for now. It’s Chicago and the midwinter meeting. I should be shmoozing, not posting.

Yours,

Mark

Proud to be our own breed…

February 11, 2007

We have been live with bringodentist for nearly one month (I’m not good at anniversaries so don’t ask me the date) and momentum is building. Each day we get dentists signing up with us, asking more questions, giving us great suggestions/tips, and we are also learning more about what our consumers are looking for. In conversations with dentists from all over the country, I have been struck by a few common themes:

1) Over the years, many dentists have had bad experiences with various referral services that guarantee them a certain number of patients each month in return for some steep up-front costs. Unfortunately many of these referral services have earned reputations for delivering low quality patients to dentists, or more frequently not even delivering the minimum volume they guaranteed (but still taking their rich fees). In short, many dentists have gotten burned by using fixed price referral services that over-promise and under-deliver.

2) Dentists have responded to the BRINGO model very positively, as we do not charge up-front fees, always give the dentist the ability to reject patients based on their criteria, and have a pay as you go model. the BRINGO model is simple, honest, straightforward and effective. From one dentist I just spoke with in North Chicago, the pay-as-you-go model is “a ray of light.” While I thought his description was a bit dramatic, I think he’s right.

3) The number of dentists who are actively on-line is pretty small. We can take electronic claims as a good indicator. In this day and age, less than 35% of claims are processed electronically (according to my friend at the ADA). Hard to fathom, but it means 65% of practices still choose to complete paper claims forms, snail mail them to insurance carriers, and wait weeks for processing payments. While I’m not hear to lobby for electronic claims (although one of our board members certainly does that through http://www.cooperativeexchange.org/), I am here to help our dentist partners figure out how to tap into large number of prospective patients searching on the web for providers.

4) Prospective patients are hungry for a good way to find new dentists, and the internet does not have many good options. Bringodentist is bridging an important digital divide between dentists who are not really online, and prospective patients who are very much internet savvy and start every search at their computer. I had a drink with a very accomplished dentist from the NY area this weekend and he said he started taking the internet seriously when he realized two of his three children searched the internet to find their dentists when they moved to new cities over the past few years.

5) There are always great surprises when starting something new. While there have been several wonderful letters of appreciation, perhaps my favorite came from a psychologist in the South who works with people who have disabilities. He said our service helped to take the hard work out of finding a dentist, and is very valuable for his patients. Nice, ehh? I think they started by using our nophonetrees site, appreciated the stress it could eliminate and then moved onto bringodentist. Great feedback.

Given that I am sitting in Chicago, these days I would also like to develop BRINGO warm weather. Unbelievable how many consecutive days we can be below freezing. I was at dinner last night with Marcin (who also posts here) and was amazed to find he considered yesterday’s 20 degree temperatures finally warm enough to go for a walk. Numbed by the cold I say.

Stay warm and stay in touch,

Mark