Should Dental Practices Be Offering Online Booking for Patients?

Allowing patients to book their dental appointments online can be a convenient option for them - but is it a good idea for your practice? We’re taking a look at the benefits of online booking and how to ensure a smooth transition.

Should Dental Practices Be Offering Online Booking for Patients?

From 3D imaging to digitally-designed implants, advancements in technology have transformed the field of dentistry. But aside from dental procedures themselves, technology can also help with making the day-to-day running of a practice simpler and more efficient.

While your practice is likely to be using some form of automation when it comes to taking patient bookings, online booking systems - which allow patients to book appointments themselves on your website or through a third party website - are becoming increasingly popular.

In this article, we’ll look at why you may want to consider an online booking system for your patients and what to keep in mind when implementing the system.

Online Booking: Better For Your Patients, Better For Your Practice

In our age of Ubers and on-demand food delivery, we’re all becoming increasingly used to making arrangements with a few clicks or taps. The ability to book a dental appointment online offers the kind of ease and convenience your patients are used to in other areas of their lives.

By allowing patients to make an appointment from anywhere, at any time, from any device, online booking is a huge plus for anyone who’s busy and time-poor. No lengthy contact forms or waiting on hold if the receptionist is busy means online booking is often quicker than making a manual appointment. Being able to arrange dental appointments outside of practice hours also means patients are less restricted.

What’s more, automated booking reminders make it less likely that patients will forget to show up to their allocated appointment, which removes a common frustration.

Clearly, online booking offers plenty of benefits to patients - but what about for your practice? Is online booking a help or a hindrance?

Online booking can provide a wide range of advantages to dental practices. For starters, an online system frees up your admin staff, as they’ll spend less time taking manual bookings over the phone. In addition, an automated booking system results in a lower rate of human error, which is an inevitable occurrence for manual systems. Enabling patients to book appointments 24/7 also means your practice is no longer restricted to taking bookings during opening hours.

Plus, a study revealed that when customers have access to online booking, about 26% prefer to choose same-day or next-day appointments - meaning those empty slots in your schedule are more likely to be filled. There’s also a reduced chance of appointment ‘no-shows’ when automated booking reminders are sent out.

Finally, let’s not forget that happier customers are better for business! Offering patients a simple and convenient way to book their dental appointments online can increase customer satisfaction, which is a positive for any practice.

What to keep in mind when implementing an online booking system

If you’re considering introducing an online booking system that allows your patients to make appointments online, here are our top tips for a smooth implementation:

1. Ensure your staff know how to use the system

As with any new technology, it’s crucial to make sure all staff members are trained appropriately to avoid mistakes, confusion, and frustration. Allocate sufficient time to show your team how the system works and get people on board by explaining how online booking can make their jobs easier.

2. Let your patients know that online booking is available

Once the system is up and running, you’ll need to make your patients aware that they now have the option to book appointments online. You might want to send an email informing clients about online booking, call attention to it on your website, and put a sign up in your practice so everyone knows this option is available.

3. Make it easy for patients to contact you

Despite all the benefits of an online booking system, you don’t want patients to feel they can no longer pick up the phone and speak to someone if they have a query. Reassure patients that they can always contact the team for advice and information, and that the option to book an appointment manually is still available.

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