The phone is one of the most important tools in the dental office. Dr. John and Wendy talk with Amol Nigudkar about barriers the patients encounter from the phone to your chair. Take action with your reception desk to solve the conversion problem, grab the low hanging fruit and get those callers into your office!
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“EP27: Opportunity is Calling; with Amol Nirgudkar of Patient Prism” Transcript:
Welcome to the Double Your Production Podcast with the Team Training Institute. The one place designed for dentists and their staff who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it or in the trenches, who know exactly what you’re going through. And now your leaders, the stars of the podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.[music]
Hey, welcome everybody to this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast. I’m John Meis. With me is my partner, Wendy Briggs, and our guest he is an amazing man, Amol Nirgudkar. And he is the CEO of Patient Prism. How are you, Amol?
Doing excellent, sir. Thank you for having me on this podcast.
So I’d love for you to introduce yourself and give a little bit about your background and how you became interested in the dental industry.
It’s actually by accident. I’ve been a CPA all my life. Almost 20 years. Dentist just by– I had a lot of dentist friends over the years and they became very good friends and clients over the years. And I really enjoyed helping them and not only from an accounting and tax perspective for many years, but tried to really understand their businesses and I worked with a lot of them in understanding the metrics and the number that goes behind running a practice. And so over the years, I became an expert in understanding the issues related to dentists as a CPA. And that’s how I’m in dentistry and Patient Prism was just an extension of that.
Well, I know most of the people listening to this are going to know what Patient Prism is, I know what a fine job you’ve done getting the word out every dental conference I go to we always run into each other, so I know you’re out and about beating the drum. But could you give kind of an introduction in the Patient Prism and really what it does for a practice?
Absolutely. We really didn’t want to create a software when we started this journey when we encountered a big pain-point that you guys have talked about for years and many dental consultants across the country have talked is the phone, right? A lot of people have said the phone is one of the most important instruments in dental practice, and a lot of patients were calling into dental offices and not able to schedule treatment because of certain communication barriers that a receptionist create at the front that prevent the patient from making an appointment.
And so this problem is not something that we discovered, it’s been around for ages and the conversion problem. So one of the things we realized is that the traditional ways of solving that problem was let’s record phone calls and let’s have somebody listen to them at the office. Now, the problem with that approach was that as you know it gets pretty busy at the dental office, everybody’s got enough things to do, sometimes more than one job to do, more than one hat to wear. And nobody really had the time to listen to these recordings. And so we about three years ago, me and my co-founder, Mike, we said, “We couldn’t we design an intelligent call-tracking system, and let’s take the recordings and could we use the new technologies liek natural language processing and artificial intelligence to superimpose upon these conversations and be able to quickly provide feedback to the office on what went wrong, where did it go wrong, and what can we do to fix it?” So Patient Prism really wanted to solve this conversion problem that happens [inaudible] opposites across the country by employing artificial intelligence to understand what goes wrong, what prevents people from making an appointment, and being able to get those patients back in the chair, sometimes in the same day, because now, we have learned the failures or the shortcomings right away.
This is so remarkable, Dr. John, because we talked a lot about how many practices are missing out when they fail to invest in certain pieces of technology that can make dentistry better. Right? And I would say, we often [inaudible] the technology needed for the treatment room: lasers, and visual x-rays, and scanners, and those sorts of things. This is remarkable because I don’t think, really, anybody in our industry has figured out a solution using technology on one of the most common struggles in the dental practice. So this is why we had [Amal?] speak at out summit because we find this as just fascinating. And what an awesome solution to have better practices capitalize on– every time that phone rings. Yeah. We say it’s opportunity calling. And here, we have an opportunity to really capitalize on that opportunity.
Absolutely, Wendy. And you know, the system, the way it works is, if a patient calls and– a new patient calls and they don’t schedule or book, within an hour of that, an alert goes up via text message and email showing the practice, the office manager, or whoever it is at the office, this is what went wrong. And you know this within an hour, of the value of that opportunity, at what point in the conversation we lost the patient, and what can we do to fix it. So all that happens within one hour.
That is absolutely incredible. When we have new clients coming to our company, one of the things that almost all of them want is to get more new patients. And I said, “The easiest way, the best way to get more patients, is to fix your phone, so it’s transferring– you’re converting those calls into appointments.” And we’ve got some really great anecdotal but certainly consistent results with people fixing their phones. But they’re not easy to fix. It’s kind of painful. And the thing I love about your software is that it takes the pain out of it, doesn’t it?
Yes, it does. And it does the training in a non-threatening way. Right? There’s already so much. The receptionists are busy out there. So if you can send out an alert that kind of highlights that, “By the way, you forgot to ask the patient’s first name and this thing,” or, “By the way, the patient was looking for an implant, but you should’ve mentioned, really, the financing options that we have available so it makes it easier for them.” And when you do that training continuously and constantly and give them constructive feedback, I think it’s truly non-threatening instead of sitting down with them and saying that, “Hey, Mary, you’re doing this all wrong. It’s not like that.” And we also [inaudible] the situation where if they do good things on the conversation, we want to pat them on the back and saying, “Hey, good job doing this stuff.” So it’s truly meant to engage the team into becoming better versions of themselves on a daily basis.
Well, the challenges with practices is they have no awareness of how many calls they miss, and they have no awareness of when they’ve really blown the call or having conversion problems. It’s completely out of the awareness of the dental team, usually. And with this simple software solution, it allows people to really in on– calls are missing, and calls that they’re capturing but they’re not converting to an appointment and lie.
Right. And this is truly the lowest hanging fruit, I believe. You guys have much problems than losses. Right? Case acceptance and hygiene. And this is the lowest hanging fruit. We just want to make sure that an engaged caller who has called in gets an opportunity to make an appointment. That’s it. That’s all we want to do, is we don’t want to diagnose anybody over the phone. We don’t want to scare them off with high prices. We want to make sure that they build trust. And since the receptionist is the first interaction with the practice, it’s really important for that receptionist at the front to start building that trust that eventually helps throughout the life cycle journey of the patient. And really, it’s a very, very low-hanging fruit that most practices will know. Within the first couple of weeks, they will have recovered the cost of using us for a whole year, and that’s what we have observed in [inaudible].
One of the pieces that I am just fascinated about is the use of artificial intelligence in this whole process. So first of all, I want to understand a little better how that works, and second of all, if you see any other ways that artificial intelligence is going to disrupt the dental industry.
Yeah. Absolutely. I gave a talk with [inaudible] dental show about how AI is affecting our lives today, and how it might affect dentistry. But the way we do this is that– it’s best with an example. A patient calls in, let’s say, at 9:30 in the morning and is looking– let’s say he’s looking for a couple of extractions and couple of implants. Let’s just say it’s like that. Right? “Hey, I’m looking for some extractions. It looks like I’m missing teeth. I need some implants.” And then the patient goes on to say that, “I have no insurance and I can’t really afford this.” By the end of the conversation, the patient says, “I’m going to think about it,” and hangs up the phone. That conversation hits our servers the next second after the phone is hung up. Now, what machine learning does– what it does is that the machine listens to that conversation. First, it transcribes it, number one, and it listens to the conversation and understands first what type of patient it is. So the number one thing AI solves for us is the classification issue. Is this a new patient? Is this an existing patient? Or is this a general call that has nothing to do with the patient? So once it classifies that it’s a new patient, and it identifies it as [inaudible] booked– because at the end of the day, if it doesn’t hear appointment, time, and date, and all that stuff, it knows the appointment didn’t get booked.
The machine also identifies certain keywords that are relevant to this conversation. So what are the relevant keywords? The patient said he needed extractions. The patient talked a little bit about implants. The patient said he’s never been there before, and the patient also says that affordability is a question. So now, after feeding the machine over one million phone calls, the machine says, “Okay. These are the four keywords that are relevant to this call: no insurance, extractions, implant, and a new patient.” Now, it takes the– if the patient is asking for two extraction, two implants, then it correlates that revenue opportunity with their fee schedule that they have provided us. So let’s say it’s two extractions that’s 200 a piece, and implants of 5,000 a piece. That’s $10,400. So we quantify the value of that appointment as 10,400 then the machine what it does, is it looks at the mode and the sentiment analysis and allows our human coaches sitting here in Tampa Florida who have been in dental for a while to identify areas in the call where we could have done better. So it’s still not completely AI driven. The machine helps our human coaches identify areas in the call where we might have messed up or we did a good job. And so we visualize those areas using color-coded shading to be able to send that alert out within one hour. So that’s how the machine and the humans works together really in getting relevant, accurate information within an hour. So that’s where I see that’s where we’re doing it.
In AI as far as dentistry goes, I do see a virtual receptionist coming aboard, an Alexa receptionist in the next few years. I do see someday a machine learning to understand behaviors of patients better. I mean, we could use, for example, data to prevent no-shows from happening. We could plug in the data and look at the characteristics of people that no-show, right? And sometimes the machine will come up with– and one of the key elements to know about machine learning is that it sometimes it’s not about what we feed. So don’t have an output variable in mind, all we do is provide the machine with a set of inputs and then machine figures out the patterns that are relevant to that and then gives us insight.
So that’s the way machine– if machine learning is not where we provided questions and answers and then you ask a question then it provides the answer. Those were the expert systems we had in the ’80s. But today machine learning is let’s provide the machine with the set of inputs, let the machine analyze the patterns that exists that maybe humans don’t even know of, and let it come back with insight that are kind of sometimes surprising in getting us that. So the no-show problem could be resolved, we could have lots of predictive analytics that we could work on in the future that could predict what would happen with revenues, with all sorts of things.
That’s amazing. One of the first things that we have our clients work on when we’re trying to pick the phones, as Dr. John said it, it’s painful and there’s a lot of steps and there’s a lot of effort that goes into that. But one of those common things that we challenge them to do is keep a record of frequently asked questions. So what you’re telling me is your software could actually provide the doctor with data about things like that even to the level of specificity of what are the most common questions that a patient’s asking that our team needs to be better prepared to answer. So you’re saying that it does provide insight to the practice on things like that?
Oh, absolutely. And we go really deep. We look at 17 different elements in a call that are relevant, and we measure whether every receptionist did those 17 things correctly and then dive back. Sometimes we can say, “Hey, John at the call center or at the receptionist always forgets to mention financing to patients or 50% of times.” So what we want to do is provide really good insight to these folks to be able to fix what their weaknesses are and be able to drive a big change. Sometimes it’s just a small change in behavior that could lead to big improvement in performance.
Of course, Dr. John’s famous quote “small hinges?”
Swing big doors. And fixing these things they seem so small and they’re not even noticed or noticable really unless you really focus on it but it can make a significant difference in new-patient flow and better retention of current patients as well. So do you have some results that you can talk about and some of the practices that have been using your software to a high level?
Yeah. We have improved conversions anywhere between 30 to 60 percent without spending an additional dollar on marketing, and these practices are able to bring in an extra 30, 40 percent of new patients to be able to schedule. Sometimes, the easy thing to say is, right, and most of us like, “Oh, I need new patients. Let me spend more money on marketing.” Right? “Let me spend money on advertising.” But the reality is I think you’ve got to fix your people first. You’ve got to fix the front, the back, the middle, and sometimes people want to press the easy button and do that. So we’ve seen people do it 30 and 60 percent improvement in conversion rates. We’ve also seen one of the side effects of our software is it allows minute-by-minute visibility on what marketing channels are actually working for you and not working for you. So by tagging every single campaign, every single medium that you use to advertise out there, and we’re able to display to our clients, “Okay. Billboard number one is working really well, but billboard number two hasn’t resulted in any patients. Oh, Yelp is working really well for this office, but Google AdWords is doing well.” So what it has allowed practices to is, is make smarter marketing and advertising allocation decisions by knowing what is working and what’s not working. So that has improved a lot, and now, the intern has improved another 20% increase in the number of new patients that these guys see.
Most practices don’t have the capacity to be able to grow by 30 to 60 percent in new-patient flow, and an additional 20 on top of that. So it’s really pretty incredible what the difference this can make. And we’ve seen offices that once they fix their phones there’s just this dramatic effect of now all of the sudden they’re struggling to handle the load and flow. And that’s a lot more fun to work with than sitting around in your office twiddling your thumbs. It’s a whole lot more fun.
Right. I mean, I think you’re absolutely right. And as we all know, dentistry is going through a lot today. That there’s intense competition coming from the bigger groups. So I think it’s imperative for all our listeners to really understand that when you’re spending your hard-earned money to drive new patient calls into a practice, it’s vitally important for us to make sure that we handle each patient with the same level of compassion and care and respect and kindness as we would our family member. And it not only helps in converting them into a booked appointment, but I think it helps them through their journey in the office. It helps with case acceptance. It helps with everything else because the first impression is what really matters in many cases.
That’s for sure.
I so agree. Dr. John, I think it would be great if we could get some resource from Amal to put on our Double Your Production podcast homepage so that anybody who’s interested in contacting you or details about the software or any of the services that you provide– do you have a PDF or something you could share with us Amal so that we can post that there for easy access to that information?
Absolutely. I do have some PDFs that you can decide which ones to share with. And certainly, we update our website quite often and at least once a week. And we have some amazing videos, testimonial videos and stuff like that. So I’ll share some PDFs, as well as patientprism.com, is a great website to see what we do on a daily basis. Our blog is very active. So absolutely, I’ll share those resources.
Oh, that’d be great.
So what’s the website, Wendy, where we’ll aggregate all this stuff to make it a one-stop-shop for everybody?
Yes. it’s theteamtraininginstitute.com Double Your Production podcast. So we’ve got a lot of resources there. In fact, probably most of our listeners have been to that homepage. And frankly, if they want to know a little bit more about how we teach to fix the phones, I believe in our very first podcast we discussed this element. So there’s a lot of additional resources there for listeners to visit our homepage. So we will include the link to all of Amal’s resources there on that homepage.
That’s fantastic. We would certainly welcome your listeners to contact us. We will give them demos. And we truly have stayed true to our purpose. Our purpose really is we want to make sure that more Americans can get access to the dental care that they deserve because dentistry will change their lives. And we’ve stayed true to purpose where if we do believe that a practice is not going to benefit from what we’re doing currently, we will certainly tell them that, “Hey, I think you should fix the other things first before you engage with Patient Prism.” And so we’ll do an evaluation. We’ll make sure that we’re helping these folks, and we want them to see results right away. And that’s why we have been successful in retaining 100% of our clients is because that approach.
Yeah. In my experience, Amal, there are very few practices that do this at the level that they would be proud of. So I appreciate that attitude of doing the analysis first because there are going to be some that won’t be helped by it, but the vast majority will. And I appreciate you so much being on our podcast today, Amal.
You have a fabulous product, and I’m really excited for our clients to be using it because I really believe that’s going to make a huge difference on the success of their practice.
Thank you so much for having me today, and letting me tell my story. I tell it every day, but I’m equally excited every single time I tell it. So thank you so much, both you, Dr. John, and Wendy for inviting me today, and I really appreciate it.
Well, you’re sure welcome, Amal.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Yep. We’ll see you soon, Amal.
Thank you so much.