EP38: Trends Impacting The Patient Journey

A patients journey with your practice begins before they even pick up the phone. EVERYTHING you do in your office matters and its time to evaluate what you can do to make that journey better for anyone that walks in your doors! Dr. John and Wendy talk about practical solutions and implementable strategies to help engage patients and increase their overall experience. With what they say, and what they GIVE their listeners— you DO NOT want to miss this episode!

"EP38: Trends Impacting The Patient Journey" Transcript:

[music] 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, who are 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.
Hey, everybody. Welcome to this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast on Dr. John Meis. And I'm here with the amazing Wendy Briggs. Hey, Wendy. How're you doing?
Hey, good morning. Good to be with you.
Yeah. It's great to be with you, too. Well, we've got a really exciting topic right now, and it really stems from kind of a semi-secret lecture that, Wendy, you were invited to on high technology and dentistry. And I think the ideas that you came back with are really, really fascinating and really so relevant to dental practice today. So do you want to talk a little bit about this kind of top-secret meeting that you got invited to that I didn't that I'm so jealous [laughter]?
You bet. You should be jealous because it was held at the Sundown Mountain Resort, which is just a gorgeous place any time of the year. But it's nice to be invited to participate in some of these amazing events.
Yeah. This was sponsored by our friends at Podium, and it was a health care summit. So it was super interesting because they invited CEOs and leaders in the health care industry, not just dentistry. And I was invited to be on a panel where we were discussing trends in the patient journey. And so I wanted to share some highlights from that as well as some of the information that was shared in a few of the lectures because whenever I'm invited to go and participate in an event, the true value to me far beyond my contribution is what we can learn from the other speakers and from the other knowledge that is shared. And there was just so many gems, if you will, that were shared that I think will make a fascinating topic for today's podcast; really, trends impacting the patient journey.
Yeah. So for those who aren't familiar with Podium, they are, really, a preferred vendor for us. And what their company does is they do several things. The things that they're-- the thing that they're most known for is helping you increase the number of reviews that you get on the review sites. And they have a fabulous product to help people do that.
And they also are expanding into tools to help us streamline patient communication, which is so valuable to so many practices. So I was invited to come and participate in this event, and what I thought would be helpful to talk about today is some trends that are shifting primarily in dentistry and health care. We sometimes find ourselves behind the trends because change sometimes is so difficult and costly and time-intensive. But some of these things that were shared, I think, are super important for us to know especially given some of the concerns that we hear on a regular basis from dentists who are in the trenches struggling every day to improve patient communication, growth, or practices. A lot of these trends do have an impact in those areas.
For sure.
So the first trend she talked about was that our brand is everywhere. One of the speakers that shared some insights was from a company called Yext, who also partners with Podium. But what they're doing is they're looking at trends when it comes to consumers looking up health care providers online. And the concept of your brand is everywhere was really fascinating because she kind of took us through a timeline on how people really connect with their health care providers. And, of course, we're looking specifically at dentistry and it used to be that website and email were really the only ways that patients would connect with us as a practice or as a business. And she shared how in recent years, that is completely changing. And I thought this is so true. A couple of examples that we could talk about here is we now have insurance companies, Aetna for example, that are extending their reach and going into the retail sector. There's been an announcement that [CBS?] now has a health department. And they're going to be doing a lot more health services as a part of the retail experience, right? And this has a direct impact on all of us. The fact that insurance companies now have ownership or are driving the engagement with patients in a retail setting should be fairly interesting and maybe somewhat alarming to some of us because this is again evidence to me that insurance companies are really pushing their limits, and they're trying to bypass the traditional provider structure and go straight to consumer. So when I look at that, I think, "Okay. Your brand is everywhere. Beyond the website and email, what are some ways that patients are trying to connect with us?" And there are so many. It can be a little bit overwhelming at times.
Yeah, for sure. If you just take the category of social media, that alone [laughter] covers a wide swath with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter would be the main ones. The whole idea of Geocaching and all of that is another way that we're driving connection with patients through online means.
Exactly. Snapchat stories. Companies are even starting to do some of that. I mean it's just-- for me, I feel like, "Okay. I've just gotten to where I feel comfortable on this platform and the next new one, the next bright shiny object enters the space," and then I get a little bit overwhelmed. And frankly, one I just shut it all down and not do any of it. Well, we can't do that, right, if we're trying to grow the practice. And so recognizing that the marketplace is changing and that we need to have a focus on our brand. It's not just the website. It's not just communicating on people via email. There's so many different avenues that patients are choosing to connect with us. Reviews being really an important point, an important avenue. Really at the top of list why [Podium?] is something that a lot of our clients are utilizing right now very successfully. [inaudible]--
You and I have a patient experience checklist that has 60-some items on it. And really, we need to go back and revamp that, right, because the patient experience really begins before they call, right?
And so we don't have [inaudible] on that. And so we have an upcoming summit, and one of our speakers is actually going to be talking about that is how do you adapt your patient experience before they call? What are the things that you can do using mainly online tools to improve the patient experience before they're even a patient?
Yeah. So important and such great information. And I found it fascinating. Like I said, one of the best parts for me about being invited to participate in some of these meetings is when I can sit there and absorb. Another trend that they talked about was that for many of us in healthcare, our website is upside down. And when they first said that, I thought, "Well, what is that even mean?" But the principle that, for so many years, healthcare as an industry has been provider-focused and not patient-focused is something that's no news to us. We've been preaching that for years.
One of our common exercises when we meet with new groups is to go through what patients want and what providers want and on which list are we doing better. And everyone will admit that, "Oh yeah. We're doing better on what the provider wants than on what the patient wants." And so that's no news, but this is just another way to look at it outside of the office-- the patient experience outside of the office.
Exactly so. And so one of the things that they meant when they said the website's upside down is a lot of the websites are built based on language or structures that the providers want; not necessarily focused towards the patient journey. What does the patient want to know? What is the patient interested in? And we share this a lot in a lot of our clinical lectures because we'll show horrible video pulled from doctors' dental practices websites showing specific procedures-- blood flying, bones flying [laughter], and the [netizens?] are turning green when they watch these things.
Oh. So it's so painfully true. Some of the things that people put up on websites are really awful. And it's because they're excited about a procedure. They're excited about their technique. They're excited about their clinical skills, and they should be. It's just that that may not be the best place to brag about it [laughter] because--
[inaudible] because media is [hell?], right, Dr. John? I mean, I'm stunned with what some dentists-- implant dentists are the worst of this. They post these [inaudible] on their social media, which again, that is very provider-focused.
Yeah. Yeah, [that's true?].
And I thought it was super interesting as well that they said the current data is showing that less than one in five new patients actually visit the website of the doctor or the practice that they're going to visit before they visit.
And that is such an interesting thing because, really, my mental model was that I can't imagine going to a provider without checking out their website. But most of them are so bad that they really aren't that useful. Most of them are just terrible. So one in five. That's so fascinating.
One in five will visit the website. I think it's probably because-- if you think about how you search out businesses, my experience in recent months-- I'll look for restaurants or shop thing or whatever I'm looking for near me, and then the list will pull up. I'll look at the star rating; I'll look at the reviews; and then often, you'll have the phone number right there. You can just click the phone number and contact the business or the entity without visiting the website in today's world. And so that's how so many people are doing it. And I'm not saying-- we're [simply?] not saying the websites aren't important, but how the website is built is becoming even more important than it has been in the past. And as you said, so many are horrible based on our standards just from appearance and usability, but many websites are not built at all based on the patient journey. Instead, they're built on the provider perspective. And so that's why websites are considered upside down given how consumers today are making contact and connecting with practices.
And once you have the awareness, it's like, "Oh, of course, they're built upside down," because it's all about the procedures the doctor does, and there's the pictures with the [inaudible]. I'm not saying those aren't important because they do start to build a connection. But where is the part where the patient gets to learn what they want to know? Where is the pathway of how a patient thinks and how is that handled on the website? And frankly, it's handled by being missing.
Right. So we've long said one of the most important features of a good website or a dental practice is an amazing video. A four to five-minute video that really tells the story from the patient perspective can be such a powerful investment, and it gives a return on investment. And that video can stay on the website for how many years without needing to be updated. And that's really, I think, a truly amazing selling point for many websites. And most of the websites I visit for demo practices have no video. So that is one example of how the websites can be and should be adjusted to speak to what the patient wants to know, right? Fascinating stuff.
Yeah. That's true.
Another trend that was discussed at this meeting was the fact that today's patient journey often starts with a question. And this is something I had never even really thought about. But if you think about the presence of Alexa in many homes or Siri on many devices. How people are searching for businesses, in general, has changed. It used to be that they would type in implant dentist in their city. And that's how they would be searching for a practice or information. And now, it starts with a question. Instead of typing in a few just jointed words, people will actually say, "Who is the best implant dentist in my neighborhood or who is the best dental practice in their city, in Los Angeles?" And so the entire journey has changed, and it starts with a question.
I happen to have one of these little devices right here, Wendy. So let's test it out, okay? Alexa, who's the best dentist in Las Vegas?
Sorry. What was that [laughter]?
Who is the best dentist in Las Vegas?
Sorry. I don't know that one.
She says, "Sorry. I don't know that one [laughter]." But it's exactly how people are thinking, and how they're using technology to make decisions that were made in a much more personal way in the past. So how do we create that personal touch, that being responsive to the patient in all of our preappointment connections?
Exactly. So I think the point was that people are searching more specifically. So they may actually start to say, "Who's the best dentist? They may say, "Who offers IV sedation in a pleasant growth, or?" They're getting very specific with their searches. And a lot of us don't have our online presence built to handle that level of specificity when it comes to patients asking those detailed questions.
Yeah. Fascinating.
Yeah. Isn't that interesting? So I think in many ways, we need to take a good look at how we are. What is our brand look like online because our brand is everywhere? It's not just about email and website anymore. And how responsive are we when patients have these specific questions in regards to services that we have? And what can we even do to adapt and change to basically embrace these trends because I don't think these trends are going to change. I think technology is advancing to the point that we have to understand how we can adapt and adjust and begin to focus more on the patient-focused journey. So that's really the next thing they talked about was how to shift our experiences that we're providing to be more patient-focused. And that is, of course, a topic that is near and dear to both of us. We spent a lot of time working on this, a lot of time researching it and studying it. in fact, that is actually the topic that I will be presenting about at our upcoming summit in April in Orlando is how we can provide a more patient-focused experience, how we can have an impact on the patient journey from the patient's perspective, and what the latest trends are. What patients [inaudible] do they want? What the latest customer experience rankings are showing? What lessons we can learn from that? That's what I'm going to be talking about at this upcoming event. And so I found this information was super helpful, timely for me as I'm developing this content but also, something that our listeners will find very interesting as well.
No, no. That sounds fantastic. I think there's going to be a lot of excitement around that.
I think so, too. Dr. John, why don't we do-- why don't we put a special offer out there for our W Production listeners if they wanted to attend the summit? I know we have an early bird special. Maybe, we can extend that special to our listeners. And why don't we post that link on our W Production home page so that they can go ahead and register at those special pricing even beyond the early bird date if they click that link?
Yeah. That would be great. Yeah. Great idea.
All right. Well, I'm excited to hear your presentation at the summit and all the presentations. We have a fantastic group of people that are going to be speaking, and I always love it because at every single summit, something about the way I think the way I think changes. It fundamentally changes how I process things, and so I'm super excited for that. And anything else for today's episode, Wendy?
No. I think that's wonderful. As I said before, We're going to be studying this and researching even more and hopefully, we'll have more great insights to share here going forward in the future.
Awesome. Very good. Well, thanks everybody for listening to this episode of the W Production podcast. We'll see you next time.


1. All listeners of the Double Your Production Podcast are welcome to schedule a customized Practice Analysis Amplifier where we will review your current production and create your personalized roadmap for doubling your production. Click here to set up your call

2. All listeners of the Double Your Production Podcast, can test-drive our Double Your Production Membership where you have access to the trainings, videos, and live Q&A's with both Dr. John and Wendy. Check it all our for just $1. Click Here to See Everything That Is Included.

3. Contact Brian Colao at his email: bcolao@dykema.com or at dykemadso.com