Building Trust with Patients Through Your Digital Presence with Brian Leffler

Brian Leffler, founder of Modern Practice, shares insights on leveraging technology to foster patient trust in our "How I Grew My Practice" podcast. Discover his expert perspective on building trust through digital marketing.

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Alec Goldman (00:08.682): Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast presented by NexHealth. I'm your host Alec. Today we have Brian Leffler, founder and owner of Modern Practice here to talk to us about building trust with patients through your digital presence. Brian, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
Brian Leffler (00:26.815): Thanks, it's great to be here, doing wonderful.
Alec Goldman (00:30.334): Awesome. Well, kind of just for folks who may not know you, if you can give us a little bit of background about who is Brian Leffler and what is modern practice.
Brian Leffler (00:38.987): Sure, yeah, happy to. So I'm originally from Chicago. I moved out here to Los Angeles about 10 years ago to launch the West Coast Market for a company called ZocDoc. I know that a lot of dentists follow this channel and ZocDoc is one of the kind of [the] first wave of different tools and technologies that a lot of medical practices, dentists specifically, rolled out to kind of modernize the patient scheduling experience. And then there's been a number of companies since then that have come through and really revitalized and brought that process to the kind of the modern times that we exist in today, NexHealth leading that charge. And so, very familiar with the overlap with ZocDoc over to NexHealth and that's really what brought me out here to the West Coast and what allowed me to build really meaningful lasting relationships at a pretty early stage within this process within the medical community. And then from there, co-founded another medical marketing startup that actually just went public last year. And through those two experiences that I had had, building meaningful relationships on the provider level and really learning firsthand what some of those pain points that doctors, what I saw consistently was that there was a direct and distinct need for personalization within the marketing space. And so that's really what led me to leaving the startup world and starting the marketing agency of Modern Practice. And today we're still a small specialized team. We're based on the West Coast, but we serve clients across the United States from Anchorage, Alaska, today all the way down to Miami and the Panhandle grown quite a bit, but really the concept has remained with this mantra of doctors deserve better marketing. And that's really what has led us on this charge for the last five years or so since we started the agency. And that's really kind of full circle where we're at today, which is providing personalized hands-on marketing processes, consultation, advertising, branding within a marketing suite to private practices.
Alec Goldman (02:42.67): That's really cool. So typically, the next question I'll ask is there's so many things that go into making a dental practice super successful, but obviously marketing, getting the word out is incredibly important and then doing it in a way that evokes trust. If we think about what is marketing, marketing is just communications and being personalized to creating trust with potential patients is the name of the game. So I know that it's super important, but given all of your background.
Alec Goldman (03:11.158): What you're doing in modern practice, what does it mean to you to create trust and personalization through marketing?
Brian Leffler (03:17.875): Yeah, trust can be kind of a tricky concept within the medical space because in a lot of ways, doctors don't, trust is the core of what they're trying to portray to their patients. There's... obviously there can be a lot of anxiety when providing medical care, especially in the dental space for patients that haven't been to the dentist or actively tried to avoid going there. But what it really comes down to and what we have the ability to do in modern times today is to provide authenticity and to create trust within that medical community, within the patient community so that patients feel comfortable going to you. Obviously, if you're in private practice, you know that you're in a heavily competitive environment and trust is one of those core pieces that a patient will look to feel comfortable scheduling with your office or not. And so when it comes to trust, we try to make it as bite-sized as possible for the average provider to really understand this. And it comes down to three A's, if I could break this down. So the first A within that trust component is gonna be awareness. So just... obvious awareness, if a patient can't find you to begin with, they're never going to have the opportunity to learn more about your practice, to get comfortable with your practice, and ultimately schedule with you. So awareness is kind of that first A within that trust, within that... trust concept. The second would be authenticity. So obviously, today, it's hard to really conceptualize how do I represent my practice or my brand the way that I would want my patients to know me or to understand me. And the best way that I can describe it to our clients is to create an environment where you're being authentic. And that's a number of routes. One would be just simply through your website. If you have stock content on your website, whether it's by somebody else, the words that are written by somebody else, or whether it's the imagery that shows stock families, we've all seen all these dental sites of just stock images everywhere that don't represent you, that don't represent your patients, that don't represent your staff, that don't represent your office, right? All of those things, if you don't have those, that's a barrier to that trust that you're looking to build. People want to see you. People want to see you in your actual environment within your practice. And then the third A can actually be split into access or accommodation. And again, this is where we felt that NexHealth has really thrived for our clients in that patients want to know that they have access to this practice, that they have ongoing updates, that if there's forms that they need to fill out, if there's reminders that need to come their way, that they have that direct access to you and your practice. I mean, if we think about it from a standpoint of every other core industry that we live our lives interacting with on a day-to-day basis, whether it's how we get our food, all the apps that say, hey, with a couple clicks, you can find the food type you want, where you want it, how you want it, and the cost of it. You have travel, right? At our fingertips through travel, whether it's Uber, whether it's flying somewhere, whether it's booking a hotel.
As people today were used to that modernization in every other industry, healthcare seems to be the one space that lacks slowest, lacks the most because it's so predicated on private practices, which all make your own decisions. So when it comes to creating that trust, obviously giving patients the awareness to find you through digital means, through the marketing process, through authenticity, truly being yourself, representing that on your website, social channels, et cetera, being authentically you. And then accommodating those patients' expectations a higher level of access are the three core ways that you can really tackle this in a bite-sized way.
Alec Goldman (06:56.298): That's great, Brian. So if we can kind of break down and go through each of them, starting with awareness, typically people think, okay, awareness, I need to be on all the social media channels, right? Then often in times comes with, well, what do I post on these channels? But then bleeds into the authenticity part. But if you could break down for perhaps a dental practice, who has yet to really think through a content strategy, they obviously know what they stand for. They know that their team is excellent.
Brian Leffler (07:01.32): Yes.
Alec Goldman (07:25.506): They know that they provide a great service, but they're maybe not making the time to building out that content. What are your initial thoughts on creating awareness when perhaps their specific dental practice history has been based off of referrals, which means that the ball is not really in their core. They don't really have the control of creating more demand.
Brian Leffler (07:47.433): Yeah, a great question. The way that I would break this down is to use social. Social is the first thing that we think of when it comes to awareness or content. Social is one of the three major pillars that I would say to be aware of, but your Google presence is also an absolute essential today. Most providers don't know that they think website or they think social or they think ads, but the one core piece that so many providers leave on the table is that Google presence. And what I mean by that is used to be called Google, my business. Now it's called Google business profile. That Google Business profiles what you're gonna see if somebody's typing in their search bar even if they were referred patient over to you they're gonna type in the name of your practice or the services that they're looking for just straight into Google right so if you're a cosmetic dentist and they are looking for veneers patients are gonna say best dentist for veneers in Los Angeles or San Francisco wherever you know market they reside in whatever market you reside in. First list that Google gives is yes, the ad campaigns that reside at the top, but the very second piece that you're going to see when you look at that result are the local businesses that are really pouring into that Google business profile. And when I say pouring into that, what I'm saying is those practices that are engaging on that level. So that means reviews, that means responding to reviews, that means updating your profile with new photos. You can actually upload videos to that profile. Now, there's a lot of things that Google actually awards businesses that are engaging with that profile and that's free. You know, if you do that process the right way, you don't, it's the least amount of your time, certainly less than social media. It's the least amount of costs, certainly less than building a full custom website and pouring into written content. So that's one of the core pieces. We can always talk about Google Business Profile a little bit more later. That's a whole separate podcast probably. But when it comes to the other core aspects, social and your website, those are bigger undertakings to take on. When it comes to social, I always tell our clients, don't even think about social unless you're willing to really invest hours of your time each week, whether it's shooting video that talks about the authentic areas of your practice, whether you're pouring into the technology, whether you have patients that are singing your praises that you want to make sure that they're getting on social and showing that reflecting that there's so many concepts today that we really need to emphasize consistently on social if we're going to use that as a means to build trust build awareness with the practice and then your website really comes down to a few things I already mentioned it before which is authentically showing imagery from within your practice showing yourself showing you interacting with patients you know a $2,000 or $2,500 photography session with a local photographer that you trust is money well spent today Because you can use that imagery and distribute it across all profiles social Google business profiles and mentioned in your website And then lastly within that website concept Awareness side you might have the prettiest looking website in your city But if you're not creating active content in article format We used to call these blogs, right? If you're not writing content from yourself, this can't be pushed out. Don't leverage chat GPT today. Don't go pay a third party writer to write your content. You can use some of those tools in conjunction with your authentic approach to the services that you provide. But in order to really gain awareness in the space today, you have to have consistent, new, relevant, fresh content that speaks to the services that you provide. So social.
Alec Goldman (11:03.199): Yes.
Brian Leffler (11:26.875): High level of engagement and consistency, Google, Google Business Profile specifically, that's the easiest method to consistently engage and create that ranking improvement against your competitors and then a consistent content plan that resides on your website are the three core ways that you can really unpack the awareness piece.
Alec Goldman (11:45.35): Yeah, and I think it's a really great point, specifically on the Google business page. The amount of effort it takes just to get that spun up. I mean, you're talking about name, images, a couple of videos, the address. Those are things that are at your fingertips that take no time. Building up reviews takes time. It takes some serious effort and often requires your front office team being a part of that strategy to ensure that patients are leaving reviews. Because again, it's not just a quality of a couple of them. You really want frequency. And again, just to double down on the Google Business page strategy, a majority of patients, medical, dental, are still doing the dentist near me, to your point. Or they actually even know the problem that they want to solve and type in veneers or veneer practice, whatever it might be. So again, that's where having that Google Business page, knowing that might be the entry point to finding you and landing on your website.
Brian Leffler (12:44.795): Exactly. And just piggyback off that, Alex. So 50% at least of patients that actually see that Google business profile won't even go to the website.
Alec Goldman (12:45.23): Um, take care.
Brian Leffler (12:54.995): And that's a huge number. So it's imperative today that you have images on that Google Business Profile, that you are to your point getting steady reviews, not just 30 reviews day one from friends and family and former patients, but that you have a tool that consistently drives more reviews to that Google Business Profile, that you're responding to those reviews. Very important as well, because that shows Google that you're engaged. But then there's all these other avenues. Services, so you can add services to Google Business Profile rich with those. And then as you know, of course, with NexHealth, having a tool that allows patients to go right from the Google Business Profile to schedule that appointment, again, going back to that 50% number, 50% are never even going to go to your website. That's staggering to a lot of providers to say, why wouldn't they go to my website? Because they're looking at your reviews, they're looking at your services, they're looking at your imagery, a lot of things that your website should be providing. And a lot of times that's looking for a general search, as long as you have a link in there that says here's how you schedule it, here's where you call, patients, again, we're looking for access, we're looking for simplicity within our daily life and a lot of times if we get the information that we need to make that decision, more information on the website isn't even needed.
Alec Goldman (14:11.338): Yep. So the last point that you made after awareness and authenticity was really around access. I think it's really obvious, right? If you think about all the different services to the point that you made before about Uber, Amazon, OpenTable, Rezzy, whatever it may be, making a reservation or making a purchase at this point in time, 2023, requires nothing but internet access and a device. But for whatever reason, the medical space doesn't… quite the same adoption. Maybe it's obvious, but how does the technology stack play into building trust with patients? And why is it so important to have, I guess, a modern technology to create trust?
Brian Leffler (14:58.379): Well, the first thing is we're busy. So in our daily lives, we're used to being really efficient with the things that we're trying to get done, whether it's a task list, whether it's just trying to fit in a couple things on your lunch hour to get those things done. But that's the third A that I had referenced earlier split between access and accommodation. They kind of go hand in hand in that it's not just about booking that flight. It's not just about ordering that food. It's about, it's not just about booking that medical appointment. It's about what comes after that and how easy that process is for me as a person in my daily life to make sure, oh, that's right. I'm being reminded now, not just scheduling the appointment but now I'm being reminded of that appointment time. People, as we all know, we forget. You know, every dental office deals with no-shows. Well, having the reminders that come in throughout the day, ah, that's right, my appointment today is at one o'clock. Or just the paperwork, right? The forms that need to get filled out within the office. Nobody wants to go to an office and sit there for the first 45 minutes filling out forms on a clipboard. We've all done it, but nobody wants to do that. And so in today's day and age, you don't have to fill out any paper forms anywhere else you go, maybe except for the DMV. But aside from that, even the-
DMV is coming up to a modernization within that process. And so when we get to a dental office, it's part of the trust-building process to feel comfortable with, okay, these guys are with the times. Just like every other aspect of my life, this is also digital. So I not only can schedule my appointment, that I'm reminded of it, I can get my forms knocked out ahead of time. If there's any follow up items that I need to be made aware of, those should be digitized as well to keep us up to date.
Alec Goldman (16:39.062): Yeah, and I think what's interesting, I mean, even the statement like keeping up with the times, if you really think about the patient as one experience, right, and that experience is far from just the service in the seat, perhaps it's the most memorable and at times the most painful. But the patient experience really begins from the second that they find you perhaps on Google or go to your website all the way to the point of making that next return. So what is the general feeling across that patient experience is the question that I think dental practices need to ask. So if it's still being stuck with a phone call, if I said, how are you doing veneers? And you said, oh, I'm making them tooth by tooth. I would say, why aren't you using a 3D type tool? And there's certain connotations that have with, perhaps, a phone call or doing paper forms, where it's much more than just the convenience in the practice, but the general feeling of, am I at an outdated location?
Brian Leffler (17:35.536): Exactly right. Yeah, I mean, it really, this does need to be applied to as many aspects within a practice as possible, whether it's the scheduling process, the follow up process. We have a lot of practices today, some of our top dental clients that are using virtual tools to even submit the smiles to begin with, right? And a lot of that initial consultation process is done virtually, rather than, well, you're gonna have to come in, schedule a time out of your day, I'm gonna have to look at your teeth physically in person. That the virtual world really needs to be applied to every possible element within a practice today in order to really emphasize that modern feel that people are gonna be expecting.
Alec Goldman (18:19.87): Yeah, and I mean, kind of to bring this back to the idea of trust, I mean, trust at some level has, it's about what you expect. And are you are you meeting those expectations? Right. So if you are now as a human being, you have expectations around convenience that is provided by technology, places that do not offer that are looked as are at as out of date.
Brian Leffler (18:23.951): That's been tough. Exactly, yeah.
Alec Goldman (18:46.13): And then you start going back to how do you build trust? I mean, that's where I think the technology component is so interesting.
Brian Leffler (18:51.563): Absolutely. And if we look at that from a retention standpoint, right, there isn't a provider out there that doesn't want to retain the great patients that they're attracting. And so that's another piece of the trust side is you might actually, because of one of the areas that we've already discussed, you might attract that patient to the practice, have that consultation, or maybe do a checkup or cleaning with that patient. And if you don't have the follow-up process, some of the other things that we've mentioned may be buttoned up, you might lose that patient, right? If you don't have the appointment reminder, there, but they might not come back if they didn't really feel that their experience was up to par or up to standard with what they would have expected. So that's a critical piece to this is it's not just attracting the patient, but it's retaining them over time, which as we all know leads to referrals, could lead to a great video testimonial, could lead to a great review. And to circle all of this back around to the awareness side of things, the great experience that you're providing the patients should be accompanied by a tool that requests feedback from those patients to your Google Business profile consistently so that you can drive those great patient experiences that you're creating in your office to actually help more patients find you through that Google Business profile because as we've talked about the more reviews you have on your profile the higher you're gonna rank the more you're gonna compete and create more trust so it's very cyclical and we need to really you know incorporate this as much as possible within every practice.
Alec Goldman (20:21.77): Yeah, exactly right. Brian, we're coming up at time of the 20-minute mark. I wanna make sure that you have kind of a final moment. What are your last thoughts on the idea of building trust, whether it's something that you feel like you may have missed out on the awareness component, on the authenticity or the access and accommodation?
Brian Leffler (20:36.871): Yeah, I guess the best way that I could sum all of this up is really, it's critical in today's day and age to understand what makes you unique, what makes your practice unique. Is it just simply your personality and how bubbly you are and how gregarious you are with your patients? Or is it that plus all the great technology that you've invested in? Is it how much you've renovated or invested in your actual office space? Is it your staff? All of those things, when you really look at what your practice brings to the table that you want your patients to know about you, that's what should be demonstrated. Whether it's through your social channel, be authentic. Whether it's your website process, be authentic. Make sure that it represents the unique qualities or attributes that you've invested so heavily in, that you've hung your hat on as a provider whether it's the profiles that represent your practice. Everything that you have out there digitally that's representing you, the way that it's gonna create lasting trust for patients not only on the awareness side, but also the retention side, is by being authentically you and representing that.
Alec Goldman (21:48.41): That's a great final note. It was really awesome having you here today and certainly would love to do this again hopefully, maybe not June, but certainly in July or August when I'm back in town.
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In today's digital age, an effective digital presence plays a significant role in helping you build trust with patients. In a recent episode of the "How I Grew My Practice" podcast, Brian Leffler, the founder and owner of Modern Practice, shares his expertise on leveraging technology to build trust with your patients.

With a background in launching the West Coast market for ZocDoc and co-founding a medical marketing startup, Leffler understands the importance of personalization in the marketing space. He emphasizes the need for doctors to have hands-on marketing processes to better connect with patients. Join us as we explore Leffler's insights on building trust and personalization through marketing in the digital era.

Creating Awareness

According to Brian, building trust starts with three A’s: awareness, authenticity, and access.

The first step in building trust is making potential patients aware of your practice. “In the age of information, building trust starts with creating awareness,” says Brian, leverage social media and online platforms to engage with patients and showcase your expertise.” 

Without visibility, it is impossible for patients to learn more about your services and feel comfortable seeking care from you. Leffler emphasizes the significance of utilizing social media and Google Business Profiles to boost awareness. Engaging with patients through social media platforms, sharing authentic content, and leveraging Google Business Profiles can help drive organic traffic to your practice.

Embracing Authenticity

Authenticity is a powerful tool for establishing trust with patients. Leffler suggests representing your practice or brand in a genuine manner to foster a connection. Avoid using stock content on your website, such as generic images and pre-written text. Instead, showcase real images of your practice, staff, and patients to provide an authentic glimpse into your environment. Investing in professional photography and creating a unique online presence will help patients relate to your practice and build trust.

Enhancing Access and Accommodation

In today's fast-paced world, patients expect convenience and accessibility. Leffler highlights the importance of offering patients easy access to your practice and providing accommodation throughout their healthcare journey. A strong Google Business Profile is essential, as it often serves as the entry point for patients searching for dental or medical services. Regularly updating your profile, engaging with patient reviews, and offering services and appointment scheduling options directly through the profile can significantly enhance accessibility.

Leveraging Modern Technology

"As people today were used to that modernization in every other industry, healthcare seems to be the one space that lacks slowest, lacks the most because it's so predicated on private practices,” says Brian. 

To build trust, it is crucial to embrace modern technology and provide patients with a seamless experience. Leffler stresses the significance of using technology to streamline administrative tasks and enhance patient convenience. Leveraging automated reminders, online forms, and digital paperwork minimizes waiting times and improves patient satisfaction. By adopting technologies like NexHealth, healthcare providers can simplify the appointment process, ensure effective communication, and reduce no-shows.

“50% of your patients are never even going to go to your website, because they're looking at your reviews, your services, and your Google profile,” says Brian, “that’s why you need tool like NexHealth that allows patients to go right from the Google Business Profile to schedule that appointment.”


Trust is a fundamental element in the medical field, and employing effective strategies to establish and maintain it is essential. Brian Leffler's insights provide valuable guidance on building trust within the medical community. By focusing on creating awareness, embracing authenticity, and enhancing access and accommodation, healthcare providers can cultivate trust, attract more patients, and foster long-term relationships. Embracing modern technologies further streamlines the patient experience and reinforces their trust in the practice. Ultimately, these strategies contribute to the growth and success of healthcare providers in today's competitive medical landscape.

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