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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning is being applied across the world of business and industries such as dentistry, refining processes and best practices. 

By identifying potential areas of improvement through data analysis, changes can be made for the benefit of customer and service provider alike. The simple reason why: AI is much better, and more efficient, at predicting human behavior, working in sync with your front-office human minds. 

Why AI
It’s possible for experts and statisticians to arrive at correct predictions by analyzing data. However, AI does it more accurately. Machine learning can also do it faster, much faster, than old-school analysis systems.

The concept is not new. What was lacking in previous decades however, was the computing power required to do the massive amounts of number crunching quickly enough to be of practical use. That computing power is now here, and faster than ever. The time for AI has arrived.

What is AI Exactly? 
At its very core, AI is the simulation of human intelligence, driven by computer systems. The machines ingest large quantities of specific dental practice data, looking for correlations and patterns. These correlations and patterns activate, making predictions about the future in, for example, a business setting. 

Technological Evolution in the Dentist’s Office 
Dentistry, traditionally is known for being heavily dependent on one-on-one human contact. In fact, the dental industry has’t been particularly aggressive at moving with the technological times. The traditional “call to the dentist’s office” remained pretty much static over time. When you need your dentist, you typically call the telephone number connected to that office.  

The reality now, is that times have changed, and continue changing at a pace never before imagined. It’s the classic “what came first – the chicken or the egg” scenario; did technology change society or vice versa? The answer is largely irrelevant. 

The new dynamic is here, and it is constantly evolving. With new capabilities and technologies, the consumer world has consequently become more demanding of instant response. We expect the right answers, fast. Competition for consumer dollars is more fierce than ever. 

Just a few recent dentistry-related AI-driven innovations include:

  1. Smart toothbrushes – that allow patients to share their brushing data with their dentist, through an app. Some of these can even remind the patient when it’s time to make their next dental appointment.
  2. Treatment planning – AI analysis of treatment records, to determine the best course of action for a patient, and predict the likelihood of success. Older methods of scheduling and programming are being replaced with data-based planning.
  3. Analysis of phone calls, from clients/patients, and prospective ones here is a wealth of useful information to be garnered from analysis including:

There is a wealth of useful dental practice information being garnered from #3, including analysis of the following:

  • Why someone calls a dentist’s office – Understand the purpose for the call in real-time. Eliminate steps like switching systems, looking up information or taking timely call notes. (Call notes are built in!)
  • What services they are interested in – Is this a new or existing patient? Emergency situation or regularly scheduled hygiene appointment?
  • The potential revenue associated with the call – Do you know the current Lifetime Value of a new or existing patient? Now you can, understanding data specific to your dental practice or DSO.
  • Whether the call resulted in a scheduled appointment or not – See instantly which individual calls resulted in increased production for your practice. If a call did not result in a booked appointment, get key insights as to the “why”. Was a call was missed? Was a call placed on a long holding time? Was the patient’s insurance not accepted, etc.

AI is a powerful data source that powers Peerlogic software, in order to assist dental practices in improving their service and ultimately, their profitability.

Old-school Dentist Office Practices are Out 
A dental clinic is typically a beehive of activity, no matter what the size. Dentists and their staff like it that way, thriving on the energy and the bustle. Clientele and prospective clientele, on the other hand, may object to the business, particularly if it impacts timely and professional responsiveness to their phone call.  

Customer service is the name of the game in today’s business climate. If a prospective patient doesn’t get the experience they desire on the first phone call, in the first minute or so, they may simply hang up and try somewhere else.   In fact, the playing field has shifted so much, you could rename the target “enhanced customer service”, or even “customized customer service”. 

Clients want to feel special; they want your services, as much as possible, tailored specifically to them.  They also want answers or advice without delay, or hesitation.  Often, there are no second chances. It’s a concept that has been, for all intents and purposes, impossible to achieve in the past. 

The power of AI and machine learning are now providing real-time solutions, a revolution in helping dental practices better understand customer needs. We’ll go through some of these exciting developments and how a dental practice may be losing out today, and benefitting tomorrow, from AI Analytics, particularly how it can be applied to their telephone system. 

Statistically Speaking – Lost Revenue Opportunities in Dentistry 
Here are some startling stats that the average dentist office may not be aware of:

Percentage of clients who book via telephone – 48% 
That’s right; even in today’s hyper-charged online world. Nearly half of us still prefer speaking with someone over the phone, regarding our next dental appointment. 

There’s a psychology at work here. When it comes to discussing a topic as personal and sensitive as the inside of one’s mouth, an individual very often wants both a knowledgeable and sympathetic ear – a real voice on the other end of the phone.  Virtual services, such as online or digital interactions are, of course, gaining momentum – cell phones are ubiquitous – but there remains a basic need for the human touch when it comes to dental services. Many, many of us continue to dial-up a number to inquire about or discuss our dental needs.   

That said, let’s turn to some of the potential negative outcomes resulting from less-than-optimum phone protocols at a dental practice. 

Yesterday’s Telephone-Related Reasons for Losing Clients Mishandled phones – the telephone remains a hugely important link to just about any field, dentistry included. As noted above, we know that many, approximately half, of prospective dental patients will attempt to contact a dental office by telephone. 

It’s also likely the primary point of contact for its existing client base.  Dropping the ball, with a less-than-perfect phone response, is almost certainly a source of lost revenue.  Statistics show that the average dental practice misses 20% of inbound calls from new prospective patients.  

Of the remaining 80% that are answered, the conversion rate to appointments is less than 50% – a figure that could be much higher, as we’ll discuss shortly.  Nevertheless, mishandled phones add up to significant dollars worth of missed opportunities.   

Check out these telephone-related failures that can lose both prospective patients, as well as established clients: Voicemail – often translates to “bye, click!”  There are statistics that show voicemail, being put on hold, or not being greeted properly, results in the prospect hanging up and never calling back 87% of the time

There is simply no substitute for a proper greeting, followed by an efficient, professional, and pleasant human voice over the phone. Anything else can mean lost customers. Let’s say you had an average of 10 inbound calls from prospective or new patients per day this year; you could be losing up to $15,269 in revenue per day, and up to $5 Million+ annually.

Understaffing – if the people charged with handling the phone are constantly being pulled away to do other tasks, such as assisting the dentist, or handling mountains of paperwork, phone response is bound to suffer.  Voicemail, as noted above, is no substitute.  If the office telephone is a significant source of communication with customers and prospects, it must be staffed properly.  However… 

Poor training – it’s not enough to simply ensure every call is picked up.  Today’s phone inquiries demand knowledgeability, promptness and pleasantness, all at the same time.  Being put on hold, covering the mouthpiece to ask coworkers for assistance, or even taking down a number and pledging to call back, are not going to cut it.  The prospect will just as likely hang up. Peerlogic Solution: Coaching and real-time insights 

Faulty or out-of-date phone equipment – the last thing a patient will want to hear is a busy signal, or a dropped call; or an endless ring-ring-ring… and finally a voicemail greeting.  All of these will likely convert to a frustrated hang-up, rather than an appointment. Peerlogic Solution: Seamless integration with existing phone systems or custom VOIP Whatever the reason for missed calls, or hang-ups, the end results will be the same for any dental practice: 

Lost revenue – do the math; multiply the number of missed potential appointments by the average revenue one successful conversion produces – it can be significant – into the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Peerlogic Solution: Capture lost revenue + convert to revenue won = increase in daily production. 

Damage to reputation – word gets around about poor service.  Remember the old adage about communicating negative experiences; they are communicated exponentially more by word of mouth, than anecdotes of excellent service. Peerlogic Solution: Improved two-way communication and higher patient satisfaction with overall dental practice experience. 

Loss of referrals – those missed calls may have been from prospects directed to the practice; golden opportunities down the drain. Solution:  All of these shortcomings point to the need for a cutting-edge phone strategy for a top-performing dental office. That means taking all the above points, and ensuring all the negatives are addressed – proper training of staff, proper, and up-to-date equipment.  Advancements in equipment, both hardware, and software, have progressed by leaps and bounds in the last few years; AI is also having a tremendous impact, and it too can be successfully applied to the dentist’s office. We’ll discuss some specific solutions shortly, but first, a telling statistic to back up all of the aforementioned: 

Percentage of new calls to dentist’s offices which result in an appointment – 23% 
It’s an astoundingly low number, though many offices may not recognize just how few calls are being converted into actual patients.  We mentioned just how busy the average dental office can get.  The here-and-now of current case-load always takes precedence, and the search for new business is sidelined, often on a continuing basis.  Here is where the power of technology can address the low conversion rate, and simplify everyone’s life around the dental office. 

Today’s Telephone-Related Solutions for Gaining and Keeping Dental Clients 
Utilizing the power of AI provides the tools that can bump that low conversion rate by as much as 70%.  This type of system can take all your incoming phone data, crunch it in a way that a human being, say, or a spreadsheet, cannot, and assist in developing strategies and practices to address the shortcomings.  

Historical information, along with new incoming data, can be constantly updated and refined. Applying new procedures ensures that fewer callers hang up, dissatisfied with the conversation and that more “tire kickers” become actual patients, through improved phone interaction.  Success can become predictable and improvements with the process tracked via insights and simple reporting.   

This is how an AI-based phone system, such as Peerlogic’s Practice Connect+ with AI, can become the analytical powerhouse for any dental office.   Essentially, your own client base can become the central nervous system for developing process improvements, marketing initiatives, scheduling, and more.  This is achieved by:

  • Analyzing front-office phone interactions
  • Providing actionable insights – “we should be doing this, or that”
  • Optimizing patient conversations by reducing call times
  • Eliminating missed opportunities, by winning them back
  • Endorsing top performers in your organization – identifying the “rainmakers”
  • Improved patient communications
  • Improved overall patient satisfaction rates

The Peerlogic Approach 
Peerlogic harnesses the power of conversational analytics.  In analyzing front-office interactions, or those real-world conversations your frontline staff are having with either existing patients/clients, or prospective ones, data can be transformed into insights. These, in turn, can be transformed into actionable processes and improvements to your day-to-day operations. The result: increased customer satisfaction and retention, along with an increase in conversions from prospects into patients. 

How Peerlogic can Help your Dental Practice or DSO 
At its core, Peerlogic is:

  1. A proprietary, cloud-based phone system or VOIP with real-time insights
  2. A powerful AI analytics tool used to grow dental practice revenue
  3. Automation that reduces repetition and simplifies workflows

Peerlogic dental software is much more than a switchboard and communications center. What it does is optimize conversations between patients and staff. One of its most powerful features is this fact: dental practice staff fielding phone calls are armed with pertinent information, in real-time, as calls are being conducted.

With Peerlogic in place, there’s no more fumbling around for your staff, trying to look up information while attempting to keep a professional demeanor in their speaking voice. Putting potential patients on hold while “looking something up” becomes a thing of the past. The information is right at the fingertips of the frontline person. All the information being shared and integrated is 100% HIPPA compliant, as well. Additional key outcomes include:

  • Replication of winning behaviors – learn what works and what doesn’t in creating new patients and keeping them (think about this in terms of Lifetime Value).
  • Increase customer satisfaction – apply AI recommendations and watch patients reviews improve.

Additional key features include:

  • Easy integration with other dental practice technologies
  • The system can be managed from anywhere
  • Scalable for all size practices
  • Affordable and versatile

Your organization may already be taking advantage of technologies such as Dentrix and Callpop.  Peerlogic integrates seamlessly with these and other dental practice tech solutions and products. In fact, Peerlogic AI Analytics acts as a booster for these technologies.  

Adding it will allow your existing tech platform to perform even better, by increasing its accuracy.  Using one or more of these types of tech applications is an excellent way to aid in your day-to-day operations.  

Leaving your telephone system old-school, however, will ensure that major hurdles to increased efficiency, service excellence, and customer satisfaction stay where they are.  By upgrading the very front line – the telephone system, and how it is managed – you are impacting in the most direct way possible, with both your valued patients and new incoming prospects.  

The information is already flowing into your practice on a daily basis, via the phone. AI-based solutions, such as Peerlogic, can harness it, to take your practice to the next level. 

The Future: AI is Here to Stay 
There is no looking back to yesterday for any dental practice that wants to stay in the game.  Embracing technological advances has become the norm for anyone who is serious about staying in business.  

Dentistry is no exception. By identifying areas for improvement, you are not only working to increase your bottom line, you are also harkening back to a simpler time when the patient was everything.  Making a major enhancement to your telephone processes, such as with Peerlogic Connect+, is, in fact, providing that customized customer service referenced earlier.   

Every type of business, commerce, and industry recognizes the potential of AI moving forward.  Dentistry is no different.  The American Dental Association recently devoted a post to the future of dentistry and the role AI is already playing.  

Similarly, the Academy of General Dentistry has delved into the topic in several of its posts.  Everyone acknowledges the game-changing potential of this technological advance.  Already in dentistry, AI is being harnessed in many innovative ways.  

To ignore this evolution is to be left behind.   Particularly with regard to enhanced customer service, and the possibility of increased revenue, it makes sense to embrace the AI-based innovations out there. At Peerlogic, we have gone out of our way to make the whole initiative easy to implement. 

Practice Connect+ has all the bugs worked out in advance, so your operations are not negatively impacted by the rollout.  The implementation process is divided into a five-stage process that makes it simple for you and your staff.  Everything is covered, including:

  1. Planning – team assembled, resources assigned, equipment order placed
  2. Execution – system design, engineering, testing, review
  3. Launch – date confirmed, phone installation
  4. System Iteration – review of implementation, customer features added
  5. Training – train the trainer, train the team

The Peerlogic team is with you every step of the way, from planning to launch, and every step in between.  The end in mind is your total satisfaction with the system.  Prepare to be blown away: Schedule a Practice Connect+ demo, and watch the game-changing features in action.