JULY 20, 2022 (20-MINUTE READ)

Jess Webb:

How do you make your practice digital and really improve the patient experience? I mean, it's one bite at a time. And doing what is going to be most efficient and most helpful for your practice.

 

Corey Brown:

I'm Corey Brown, and this is Provide's The Path to Owning It Podcast, where I sit down with trusted industry experts in Provide's network to give you the tools and advice you need to take your practice ownership dreams into your own hands.

Corey Brown:

From owning your own practice to expanding or improving existing practice, we'll help pave the way for you to achieve your dental or veterinary career dreams and guide you through all the nuances of the practice ownership journey. Please make sure to follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen.

Corey Brown:

On this week's show, we're going to be discussing the benefits of taking your practice digital. We're joined by Jess Webb, a marketing manager at Provide, just started in the dental industry as a dental assistant.

Corey Brown:

After earning a bachelor's degree from Ohio Dominican University, she moved into an office manager role managing a small private practice and then a large corporate practice. She transitioned from working in practices to dental lending about 10 years ago.

Corey Brown:

During that time, she's been a practice coach, underwriter, a member of Provide's portfolio monitoring team and now a marketing manager. Jess, thank you so much for joining us. We're really happy to have you here today to hear your expertise on this subject.

Jess Webb:

Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here.

Corey Brown:

Now, you've worn quite a lot of hats in the past 10 years. So what's it been like going from working for a dentist to supporting dentists through practice lending?

Jess Webb:

Yeah. I started back with a bad experience as a kid and wanting to get into the dental field after having a good experience, what a difference that could make and making the patient experience better. And so as a dental assistant and office manager, my focus was always working with the patients and improving their experience.

Jess Webb:

And really, I get to do the same thing with dental lending, helping the dentists have the practice of their dreams and helping the dentist ultimately want to help the patients and have the patients have an incredible experience. So really, the goal has always been the same. It's just improving patient experience, just doing it in different ways.

Corey Brown:

It's a very brave story. A lot of people start with a bad experience at a dentist. I don't know why that happens so often, but it seems to. So going from that to wanting to get into the field is pretty awesome. So commend you on that one.

Corey Brown:

This industry, we see it continue to evolve the more that time passes. In what ways has going digital made it easier for practice owners?

Jess Webb:

Probably going to show my age a little bit on this, but thinking back to when I was working in practices, dip tanks, dark rooms, paper charts, those impressions that patients are gagging on makes a really big difference.

Jess Webb:

Nowadays with all the technology that we have, the time that a doctor can spend with the patient chairside versus developing those X-rays or getting them cleaned up, getting the algenate out of somebody's beard was always a little bit of a headache.

Jess Webb:

So I think that the technology has just really evolved to improve the patient experience. Also, that improves the doctor's efficiency and time when they are with the patients. And I think that ultimately it will help practice revenues grow.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I totally agree with you. What do would you say those digital tools enable practice owners and providers to do that they wouldn't otherwise had been able to do in the past?

Jess Webb:

I think that one of the things that we're seeing a lot more with doctors coming out of school with a lot more specialty in their back pocket, I think that they're able to keep that specialty work in their practice and keep patients in the revenues in their practice, less referrals out.

Jess Webb:

Obviously when a patient needs to see a specialist, a doctor is going to get them in the right hands, but if they're able to do that endo in their office in a familiar space, I think that a lot of the specialty work in-house has made a huge difference.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I agree with you. And whenever we can keep patients seeing one provider not going to multiple places, I mean, you always see more success in that patient and actually completing the treatment that needs done.

Jess Webb:

Yeah. If you're handing them a referral and they're walking out and saying, "Oh, I'll call," it's probably in their glove box from a year ago at that point.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. They're on that be back bus. We never really saw that bus come around very often. So I'm sure a lot of our listeners have heard about, and probably even to some degree take part in some sort of automation. When it comes to going digital, how does that improve convenience for both patients and staff?

Jess Webb:

Yeah. I think that the efficiency is the most obvious. I recently heard some doctors talking about some of the automation sort of being an unbiased system, which can help with that patient accepting the treatment because the doctor can tell you need something, the hygienist can tell you need something, but there's this computer that is also saying it.

Jess Webb:

And for some reason, especially with the technology that we see everywhere, we're very likely to kind of jump on board with that. So I think having those unbiased systems is really helpful, different imaging to get that treatment acceptance.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I think a big part of it too, is just allowing patients the ability to be in charge of their own appointments, right? Whether that be scheduling themselves online or adjusting that appointment, rescheduling online. A recent Accenture survey said 77% of all patients found that to be a very important factor in picking a dental office. So I think going forward, that's going to be a must for providers.

Jess Webb:

Absolutely. I think if we have the opportunity to not talk to somebody for some reason, that's definitely the way we do it.

Jess Webb:

If we can order a pizza without having to talk to somebody, we should absolutely be able to schedule those dental appointments and probably partially just the multitasking in the world that we're living in, that you can do it from your phone while you're at another appointment, or something along those lines. I definitely think the convenience of all the scheduling helps.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I would totally agree. How would you say that automation helps providers kind of define their workflow?

Jess Webb:

I definitely think automation can help doctors stay more organized. Obviously it's more clear and concise. There's less room for error. I think back to when I was making phone calls half the day to confirm appointments and spending all my time on the phone in between the patients that were coming up, that I'm trying to help in the practice.

Jess Webb:

And now that's all text messages and emails that's automated. And when the patient confirms, that's already showing on your screen, so you're not having to chase any of that down. I think it just makes the doctors experience a lot easier.

Jess Webb:

Having to chase those patients and getting people to answer phone calls or reschedule appointments, having the treatment plans. I think is really, really helpful being able to have a patient walk out with their treatment plan, but that treatment plan also stays within their chart.

Jess Webb:

I think that's a huge difference. You're not searching back through a paper chart saying, oh, well, did we say that was an occlusal back there? Or was it a DO? How long ago did we diagnose that? Digging through the chart to find out what those treatment plans are.

Jess Webb:

I think that sending those treatment plans home with some of the intraoral pictures and scans that people have seen can be really, really helpful in helping the doctors with that treatment case acceptance. I know we used to always try and utilize the treatment plan and then stapling that picture to it.

Jess Webb:

Maybe the person didn't want to schedule, they would take that paper home and throw it on the counter and their husband or wife might say, "Oh, that's a really ugly picture. You should really get that fixed." So I think that's really, really important just utilizing all of the automation has to offer.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. That was a trick that we used in my time in dental too, and it worked like a charm. Right. Nobody loves to see that awful looking tooth image. It really helps them understand-

Jess Webb:

At seeing cracked tooth.

Corey Brown:

Yes. Yeah.

Jess Webb:

Absolutely.

Corey Brown:

So there's a great tool that providers could probably easily integrate into their practice in no time. I mean, it's minimal setup, minimal training. And I do think, I agree with you, that's one of the biggest things for treatment plan acceptance that we found to be helpful.

Corey Brown:

So going into that, how can a provider who's maybe not as privy to the digital experience begin to integrate some digital tools into what they're currently doing?

Jess Webb:

I think starting with the basics is really important. Understanding what your practice obviously can afford most importantly, but also buy for who you are and what your patients will be responsive to.

Jess Webb:

If you're not doing full mouth rehab cases and implants, maybe not necessary for you to have that comb beam, but there are a lot of smaller pieces of equipment that you can integrate into your hygiene appointments. We mentioned those intraoral scanners, as well as the intraoral cameras, caries detection devices.

Jess Webb:

I know there's some AirFlow Master type scaling pieces of equipment that can really improve the hygiene experience, voice works and other types of integration that you can use for hygiene perio charting. How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?

Jess Webb:

How do you make your practice digital and really improve the patient experience? I mean, it's one bite at a time. And doing what is going to be most efficient and most helpful for your practice.

Corey Brown:

Now I know you've actually been through a transition with a practice going from paper charts, for example, to a more digital experience. Can you tell us about some of the difficulties you had transitioning to digital?

Jess Webb:

Yeah. I think it was a really interesting time. Obviously, I think most of the practices that you're going to get into now are going to have some sort of digital software in place. This practice was unique and it had the full paper, scheduling book, full paper charts. There was not a camera or computer screen to be found.

Jess Webb:

So it was definitely a big undertaking, but it was really exciting also for us to be able to bring in the digital radiography, because it was better for the patients. Some of those patients who hadn't had X-rays in a long time were very quick to say, "Oh, you're not using as much of the radiation and I'd happily have those X-rays, those bite wings taken today."

Jess Webb:

So from a patient acceptance standpoint, it was wonderful. Funny story about some of the employees that worked with us, were a little bit less eager to get rid of their paper scheduling book and their paper charts.

Jess Webb:

And one of our hygienists would, I didn't realize this until one day, I don't know if I was staying late, but I saw that she was still pulling all of her paper charts after we had stopped pulling the paper charts. And she's like, "Well, I just still like to write in these and as well as put it in the computer as well."

Jess Webb:

And so I think it's okay to let them have a little bit of a baby blanket as they make that adjustment. Obviously depending on what the technology is it may be a little bit different now, but people are going to hold onto what's comfortable, but that adjustment happens very, very quickly once they realize how easy it is.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. We all are creatures of habit. It's sometimes hard to make that change, especially after doing something for 10, 15, 20 years, but-

Jess Webb:

Exactly. Exactly.

Corey Brown:

... once they realize and embrace how much easier it's going to make their lives and their daily work routine, that's so important. So what things did you find that made that transition a little bit easier? Any tips or tricks?

Jess Webb:

Well, I think in general, I mean, I think we all know change is hard. Like I said, letting them have that baby blanket or whatever piece of security that they need. And then when you have, and you're integrating the new technology within your practice, if you understand it and you're trained properly, like you said, I think it will become second nature for those people to jump on board.

Jess Webb:

But speaking to that as well, I think if we are not trained or are not comfortable using the new technology, it's really, really important to go back to those reps and ask for more training. Make sure you're utilizing all aspects of whatever this new item is and that it's all the capabilities, whether it be some sort of software or a new tool.

Jess Webb:

Make sure you're using it for everything that you can because you don't want it to just sit and gather dust after you've made an investment into it just because you don't understand it. Those reps are there to help you and are usually eager to bring more training in.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. That's great advice. Jess, we've talked a lot about the benefits of going digital and this technology-driven world we live in, but I'd also like to dive deeper into what that means going forward for your patients, your staff, and ultimately you as an owner. Jess Webb and I still have much to discuss after this break. Stay tuned.

Corey Brown:

I'm Corey Brown, and this is Provide's The Path to Owning It Podcast. We're back with Jess Webb, a fellow marketing manager at Provide. And now I'd like to transition, Jess, into talking more about the benefits of going digital, not just for practice owners, but also for their staff and their patients.

Corey Brown:

Jess, since the pandemic, we've seen healthcare practice owners kind of across the board restructure their processes to keep everyone safe. From what you've seen, does a healthcare practice benefit more from being digital in this kind of post-pandemic world we live in?

Jess Webb:

I think with the dental industry, it's no different than any of the industries, we're seeing so much change from just the last few years. And I think everything's going digital. I think that we're going to see more teledentistry appointments for those new patient appointments.

Jess Webb:

I think less time of kind of chatting in the chair, people can do that via a Teledoc appointment. And then when they're in the practice having worked on it's going to be that time when they're producing. I think with all of the different technologies, we're going to see more of the Pearl or voice works or AI sort of technologies integrated into practices.

Jess Webb:

Where, again, going back to that perio charting, where a hygienist is not having to call someone else into the room, they're not having to touch another keyboard. I think all results of a pandemic. And then they're able to, through a voice, do that charting. And we're going to just continue to see technologies change and improve in dental practices.

Corey Brown:

Sure. Even for providers who maybe aren't ready to make a large financial investment, even small things I've seen work, texting from your car when you've arrived for an appointment. So you're not waiting in the lobby with how many other patients. Doing forms digitally before you come into the office. I think those are some small things providers could probably change now that would help with that as well. Would you agree?

Jess Webb:

Absolutely. And I think patients are looking for that in a sense, that they're looking for that place where they can feel comfortable.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I totally agree. Going digital, you've mentioned saving time a bunch and of kind of what we've talked about. In what ways does that kind of help providers save time, going digitally?

Jess Webb:

Ultimately when a doctor's in their practice they don't want to be sitting in their office. It's going to come back to two different things and that's the patient experience. And the patient is spending less time in the dental office, which I think is something that they would be on board with.

Jess Webb:

But I also think that the doctor's time that they are in their practice is going to be more productive and efficient and that's something that they want, they have more time for their hobbies. We know how hard our doctors work when they are growing a practice or transitioning in as a new owner.

Jess Webb:

And they really, really have to spend a lot of time there. And they're usually having a growing family at home and they want to spend time there as well or have other places that they want to be. So I think everybody's happy to get a little bit of time back.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. I totally agree with you. And a big part of what a dentist is doing in their daily practice is kind of treatment planning with these patients, right. How do practice owners benefit from going to digital as it relates to treatment planning?

Jess Webb:

I think we kind of touched on this earlier, but I do think it's so important. You can have those automated reminders also for patients who have outstanding treatment, making sure that they're staying comfortable with that cracked tooth or whatever it may be.

Jess Webb:

But again, like I said, you're not digging back through charts to find what's there. They can easily make that appointment, right, online. Because they know exactly what it is they need because they have that clearly in front of them.

Corey Brown:

I've even seen things like patient aftercare, even after they have a treatment appointment, sending those kind of aftercare instructions as an automated text message or email, that way they have their questions answered as soon as they have an issue. And they're not calling in.

Corey Brown:

And it's not wasting time answering their questions, but it's taking time from the front desk doing something else as well as maybe having those 20 or 30 minute free office visit appointments kind of sprinkle throughout the provider's day. So I've seen that really help.

Jess Webb:

Oh, absolutely. I think it would be great to have it on your phone. I love that idea. And also that the patients has it to kind of refer back to because when you're in the office and you just had a procedure done and you're numb and you're chewing on your cheek, even though the doctor's telling you not to. You're not thinking about the aftercare at that moment. So I love that option.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. Absolutely. And do you think providers are able to see more patients ultimately by going digital and using some of these strategies?

Jess Webb:

Oh, absolutely. I think that more patients, better experience people are going to be more comfortable again going back to those X-rays that would cut the patient's mouth or the impression material. There's so many different technologies that have come about to improve the patient experience.

Jess Webb:

It's going to make things faster. It's definitely going to allow the doctor to see more patients in their day and being efficient with the time that they are in the practice.

Corey Brown:

Absolutely. Another big factor too, I want to touch on is we've read the 83% of patients desire more cost transparency when it comes to their healthcare automated billing, I would think should be one thing that our providers should consider. What kind of advantages can practice centers see just from making that change alone?

Jess Webb:

Yeah. I mean, I know I'm more likely to pay a bill if I can just pull up a web browser and pay it. I think that there's even text automation that we talked about where someone can do it from their phone.

Jess Webb:

I think you're going to be a lot more likely to collect on that if you make it easier for the patient to pay. And we talked about this also, but I don't want to have to call and give someone my credit card number or make a phone call and-

Corey Brown:

It will make it easy for them, right?

Jess Webb:

Right. Right. Absolutely.

Corey Brown:

So looking back on your time in the dental industry, what would be the one digital strategy or tool that we kind of discussed today that you wish your dentist would've worked with or could have utilized?

Jess Webb:

Yeah. I don't think that this is something that we've discussed, but it's something that I started to hear about, this smart mirror technology, where when the doctor has their mirror and explorer in the patient's mouth, the mirror is actually recording what the doctor's seen and the doctor or the patient is holding an iPad and is able to view exactly what the doctor's seen.

Jess Webb:

And he can walk through that patient's mouth. And I just think that that is some really incredible technology. The intraoral camera is similar that you could take a picture of, this is what I'm seeing, but to kind of walk through it at the same time with the patient is something that I think would be really, really fun, just to let the patient see what you're seeing.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. That power of co-diagnosis is really a strong tool when you're presenting treatment to patients and ultimately getting them to decide if this is something that they're ready to proceed with. Okay.

Corey Brown:

So let's talk about when your providers are ready to make an investment in upgrading to digital in their practices, how can Provide help when they're ready to do so?

Jess Webb:

Well, we have an exceptional equipment product and a great team to help.

Jess Webb:

But whether it's a full project build out, a remodel or just small pieces of equipment that you want to do to improve the practice, I think that talking to the director of practice finance in your area is probably the first start.

Jess Webb:

If you're purchasing a practice and you're having some of those initial conversations with the director of practice finance in your region, I think it's really important to let them know of your long-term goals.

Jess Webb:

Our underwriters and our team has a really, really good knowledge of what's important and how these different pieces of equipment add value to the practice. And they're likely to maybe have a little bit of more leniency if they understand that there may be some pieces of equipment that you need, and you're going to be looking to explore it in the months to come or the years to come.

Jess Webb:

And working with your regional director and setting up the underwriting to understand those goals. We really want to be a part of that big picture. And you're not going to have to be piecing together small equipment loans here and there in the future if you can just let us know upfront.

Corey Brown:

Yeah. Fantastic advice. Well, Jess, I have certainly learned a whole bunch from this conversation. I thank you so much for joining us today and I hope to have you on again soon.

Jess Webb:

That would be great. Thanks Corey.

Corey Brown:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of The Path to Owning It. If you're ready to take your practice ownership dreams into your own hands, be sure to visit getprovide.com to pre-qualify and browse our practice marketplace or check out our news page for more helpful resources.

Corey Brown:

The Path to Owning It is brought to you by the team at Provide with production assistance from Sarah Parkey, Tiara Thomas, Jessica Armbruster and [Liv Canton 00:19:56]. And it's produced by Podcamp Media, branded podcast production for businesses. Podcampmedia.com. Producer Dusty Weis, editor, Larry Kilgore III. From Provide, I'm Corey Brown. Thanks for being on the journey with us.


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