Effective Communication Strategies to Retain and Engage Patients with Ryan Corby

In this episode of "How I Grew My Practice," presented by NexHealth, we welcome Ryan Corby, CEO and founder of Retain and Smile. Join us as Ryan shares his valuable insights on optimizing patient communication strategies to enhance retention and engagement.

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Alec Goldman (00:00.69): Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast presented by NexHealth. I'm your host Alec. In this episode, we have Ryan Corby, CEO and founder of Retain and Smile, here to talk about effective patient communication strategies to retain and engage patients. Ryan, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Ryan Corby (00:22.483): Thank you, Alec. Looking forward to it. Appreciate it.
Alec Goldman (00:25.506): For those who do not know Ryan, do you want to just share a little bit about what you're up to at Retain and Smile?
Ryan Corby (00:33.599): Absolutely. Yeah, we at Retain and Smile, we're kind of a boutique marketing slash services agency. We primarily or exclusively work with dental practices and help them in the area of internal marketing, patient engagement, effective communication, which I know is a big broad generic term, but in reality, really our focus and our niche is, is helping a practice use the communication tool. You know, you can't operate as a dental office these days without a communication tool that's sending reminders and text messages and emails and internal marketing. And so we've really sort of seen an opportunity to come alongside practices that are using those tools and really help them use them more efficiently, more effectively. I always say do all the things that the engineers spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars to develop all those great ideas that were on whiteboards when a company was founded. We really wanna help the practice get the full benefit out of a communication platform like that. So we have a number of different services, but really we're sort of a hands-on consultant, managed consultant, but we do a lot of marketing lift for our clients, which are dental practices as well. And we nerd out on the technical details and capabilities and features of the automation platforms.
Alec Goldman (01:41.102): That's really cool. I mean, I think kind of the first question, which I'm sure you get often, which is why aren't these dental practices just using the tools more effectively themselves? Like you've made a whole business around perfecting the use of all these different patient experience, patient engagement platforms. Why do you think they're not, I guess, being a little bit more curious or more inquisitive about all the functionality that they're getting in their contract?
Ryan Corby (01:53.395): Sure. Sure. Yeah, I think it's just the inevitable sinking sand of a SaaS product or technology and tool. You know, you only have so much adoption by the users and the software companies and engineers, you know, getting continue to develop it beyond beyond. So specifically within dental practices, we see a couple of different things. You either have one set of employees or demographic of employee that's been around forever and they have not really adapted to technology. And it's the classic Susie that's worked at the front desk forever and ever. And she's not going to really adapt to that. She's kind of set in her ways that figured out not to be too stereotypical, but that's sort of that method. Or you have kind of the other pendulum swinging, the other far end is very uneducated or very untrained staff that are younger that are coming in and they're more transient. They're not there as long. They're not being trained up as much necessarily on the technology. And also they're not there to learn technology. They're there to work in a dental practice and they're…their mind, they're just working with patients, they're scheduling patients or they're treating patients, those sorts of things. So there's this sort of gap in the middle of like efficient technology use that kind of goes by the wayside a little bit. So I asked myself the same question. This is so easy. You have this right here. I'm not doing any magic behind the scenes. Like this is your tool and you can do this. But also I think it comes down to, you know, the same reason that I pay an accountant to do my taxes or those sorts of things that I want an expert that's going to know the tool. I know that if I pay my CPA, a certain number of... you know, dollars every year, he's going to get a far better return or manage my money much better than I'm going to. So I think offices finally are kind of coming to realize that they like we could have a $17 an hour younger, you know, team member upfront that's just kind of trying to survive in the practice. They're not going to be able to effectively manage this tool, just like a doctor is a better, you know, does a better job using a handpiece and an assistant does. I think that's sort of the same thing that goes with this communication technology in a practice. So, yeah, the short answer is I think either offices don't want to invest in having a technology person on staff all the time or just the nature of those jobs and roles are not as defined in the practice that you're late internal marketing person, or they're just not big enough to hire it. You know, a medium sized dental practice has to have all the standard roles. And, you know, they've got assistants and hygienists and doctors and, you know, maybe there's not enough budget to go around to hire a person just to focus on that stuff. So we're kind of that we say we're an inside outside sort of person with them.
Alec Goldman (04:26.606): Cool, so the positioning of Retain and Smile, would you say is an IT firm? Oh, and.
Ryan Corby (04:31.607): Yeah, we're a managed marketing service. I think you could say, yeah, we try to stay away from some of the real technical IT sort of stuff, but managed marketing. So we look at their communication. Primarily we focus on internal marketing. There's the age old issue with the dental practice of, you know new patients, new patients who want new patients, which yes, that is needed, but also how many patients are you losing because you're not following up with them or you're not proposing treatment enough, or you've followed up one time and not two or three times. I mean, we just know how busy our lives are these days and one phone call or one email might not be enough. You need to meet the patients where they are and how they communicate and after hours, if you text message and if you don't have that technology in place, then you're gonna lose them or you're not gonna follow up. So yeah, that's kind of our primary focus is to help them manage that and not let anybody slip through the cracks because of lack of communication.
Alec Goldman (05:16.238): Cool, so let's jump right into just like what are the goals we're solving when you are approaching a dental practice who perhaps is not getting the most out of their solution. What are the problems, what are the metrics that you're trying to achieve with better, more effective patient communication?
Ryan Corby (05:33.375): I mean, the simple ones are more butts in seats, more hygiene recall is filled, where their schedule is fuller and they're engaging their patients and people are scheduling their appointments. We're making it easy for them to schedule their appointments. The schedule is open enough. You're able to put people on the schedule where they have availability. And accepting treatments, so engaging the patients to accept treatments. So you have all these treatment plans that are proposed, how much are getting followed up with. So putting these effective communications into places is clearly communicating to the patient why they need this treatment done. Here's some information about the treatment. Go do your research. Here's maybe what it's going to cost or those sorts of things. Here's when we can get it done for you. So just really keeping an effective line of communication between the patient and the practice. Now, you can't leverage that and scale that you know, as much without a technology. So that's where we try to take, you know, what one person, maybe one treatment coordinator has been doing as a full-time job and how do we sort of multiply that through effective communication. Or another one that we work with quite a bit is post-op instructions. Simple stuff like, you know, if somebody goes home and they have a toothache at 10 p.m. instead of calling the doctor's emergency line to ultimately just get the answer, it's okay just to take ibuprofen, you know, a follow-up communication would be sent out afterwards. Hey, you had a crown done today. Here's some follow-up, you know, treatment you can do at home treatment sort of stuff. So if you're implementing that, that's ultimately making less workload on the staff and allowing them to be more efficient in their job. So we always say, you know, properly communicate to the patient and that's going to be more time that you can spend with the patients that are in front of you in the practice. So I think the problems that we're helping alleviate is those providing information and treatment information to the patients have to manually communicate that every single time.
Alec Goldman (07:18.966): Makes sense. So it sounds like, I mean, you're going to go in and take a lot of the perhaps not super straightforward or friendly or on-brand template, tedious. Work with the tool. Figure out ways to automate the right branding, right frequency to ultimately reduce no shows, fill seats, engage with patients. So tell me, when you go in, like step one, you're evaluating those templates. What does it mean to, you know,
Ryan Corby (07:26.987): Tedious. Oh yeah, yeah. Tedious stuff, yeah.
Alec Goldman (07:48.254): Improve and make for more effective patient communications.
Ryan Corby (07:53.151): Probably the first thing that we do when we start working with the practice is to, as cliche and cheesy as it sounds, get to know their DNA, what's important to them, how do they propose treatment, how aggressive are they, how conservative are they, and how much do they want to follow up with the patient. If somebody doesn't schedule a treatment, do they ever want to follow up? Do they want to just cross the fingers and pray sort of model that they'll come back or how aggressive do you want? And so we sort of run an analysis on our, on our practices, just through communication and relationship. You know, what are those sorts of things? How much do you want to communicate? How do you want to communicate? And then we go through the platform and essentially mirror that verbiage or their sort of culture into their wording. So we'll rewrite the text messages or rewrite the campaigns will set how frequent they follow up or how soon after the treatment they'll follow up or you know we'll try to adjust the communication to fit the tone and the style of that practice so that when the patients receive it, it's not abrasive to them. If you have a patient that's been with a doctor for 20 years and Dr. Johnson rarely ever suggests or pushes treatment, and all of a sudden the patient goes home and they get five texts in a row that says schedule, that's very disjointed and disconnected from them and their relationship that they've had with Dr. Johnson for 20 years. So we try to help them be an extension of how their real personality is, and doing that through. I mean, we're starting to get into the world of AI now and how can we more effectively write communication and change the verbiage and present grammar and tone and all that sort of stuff to more sound like the practice. Because we want it to be an extension of the practice. Communication is a living breathing thing. And it needs to resemble the people that I always joke and say, the person's hands that were in your mouth last time you were in their practice. So how can we make it seem like Dr. Johnson is the one that just sent you a text and he's caring for you? Call every single patient at the end of the day and follow up with them. Because it's a nice, loving, caring tone, hey, wanted to make sure you're doing okay, how are you doing? Sort of idea. How can we use the technology to sort of emulate that same feel of the doctor but not require the doctor to make 80 phone calls or 180 phone calls at the end of the day?
Alec Goldman (10:05.058): So step one is really getting to understand the brand, understand the words they use to make sure that we mimic the doctor, the hygienist, the feeling of the office so that it actually feels like it's coming through a text message or email. What would step two be?
Ryan Corby (10:08.543): Yep. Mm-hmm. Then we look at the areas that they declined or they didn't want to enable, or we provide new insight saying, hey, you've only been doing it this way. You've been sending one recall reminder afterwards. Why don't we turn on four or five or six? Or what about, well, we have Sally, she works one day a week and all she does is call past two patients. Okay, well, what if we turned on the technology to work this way where we send two automated communications and then Sally knows that she follows up step three in communication. That's a phone call. And if she doesn't get them scheduled there, then we know steps four and five are this method. So then we'll sort of, you know, bend it around what they're already doing, and then sort of find out ways to coach them and consult them. And I have, we use a lot of like flow charts and documentation to help, you know, we'll put this sort of plan together for practice. We'll provide these sheets to them so that the whole team kind of knows what's going on and they can kind of live on that. I'm happy to follow up with, you know, start our listeners afterwards if they want to look at those templates and use those as a resource. But so then, you know, we kind of figure out what they're doing, what their DNA is. Then we take what they've done, and then we sort of add our influence on top of that, of like, here's what you could be doing. Hey, here's the tool you're using has these features and these capabilities, let's weave those into your current process. And here's how we could extend your reach beyond what you're currently doing by implementing these features and these tools and those sorts of things. So I say that that's probably a big step too is set it up the way that they're used to, but then we sort of say, here's some extra that you can do based on your recommendations that we would say, tool that you already have, that you're not utilizing, or here's how to more effectively utilize it or more effectively click another step onto this campaign, additionally help carry the load of what you're already doing. Yeah.
Alec Goldman (11:56.59): Cool. So it really sounds like step two is almost about implementing the first thing, measuring, and then, quite frankly, iterating to say, hey, I got a couple more ideas here. We might want a few more reminders. We want a few more emails. Post-op should be two times instead of one just after the appointment.
Ryan Corby (12:14.171): Yep. Absolutely. And then sometimes that's just enough getting the ball rolling with them. Then, you know, doctors for the most part are pretty creative people and they're like, oh, well, if I could do this post-op instruction, then I would love to do this. Could we do this thing? Like we had one of our offices, they said, I'd love to send a communication six months after their last appointment. So, you know, when they should be, but not a standard recall, just like halfway through the year, hey, we wanted to let you know, we're thinking about you, you know, staying top of mind of the patients and getting there, you know, just keeping top of mind mid year. And they came up with some cheesy videos. We ended up shooting a video for them for that. But that initial sort of post-op instruction, follow up, how you do it. And he's like, oh, let's follow up with them six months down the road and say, not pressure, no scheduling, nothing. We just wanted to see how you're doing, anything we can help you out with, that sort of idea. So a lot of times us nudging, so we have this sort of compounding growth of them seeing extra capability, then they're like, oh wow, let's do that, that'd be cool too. Or that spurred this idea, let's go for that. So, you know.
Alec Goldman (13:13.974): That's great. I mean, going back even to the initial statement you were saying in regards to what sounds like the premise of founding Retain and Smile, which is you have this tool, does a whole lot. Not really sure what it does. You don't have a lot of time. So hiring somebody who is an expert in that tool, almost as if you were to the point that you made before in relation to the accountant, hiring an expert to lead you through and make sure that you're getting the value out of the tool, sparks enough creativity for them to say, hey, I have a few ideas and then lean on your expertise to actually execute them.
Ryan Corby (13:46.199): Absolutely. And not to bag on technical salespeople, but they're doing a job and they're trying to get somebody on board. And I even know from our own services that we sell, there's only so much you can go through with the dental practice on that first call. So they might have heard you say that you could do this feature, but they forgot about it because all they really cared about was making recall work or whatever. So resurfacing some of those features and technologies is sometimes that's all it's needed to get them up on board with that. The other thing that we do is not just take it all on ourselves and do it. We work with the teams quite a bit to say, Hey, to make this, if you guys do this one little thing here, then all these other efforts that we're putting into place will be that much more effective. Like bounced emails. Like if you guys are properly collecting emails. So we do work with each team, and then oftentimes it's a repeat team. So a lot of times an officer will come and say, hey, we lost so-and-so at the front desk. We have somebody now, can you help get her up to speed or get him up to speed? And we have a whole sort of series of videos that we do with that too. But that one little thing about making sure that they're effectively collecting email addresses and effectively getting them to PMS, that turns on 50 other opportunities to follow up down the road that we can do. Or, hey, the system's noticing that these are a bunch of bounced emails from typos or whatever else. Hey, team member, once a week, I want you to go in here to this little corner of the software and take note of this and follow up on those sorts of things or create this template or follow up with them. So those are things where we still not only put them into place and get them up and going, but we sort of continue to monitor them as they go and say, hey, do this a little bit better here and this is gonna compoundly affect this stuff over here. And a lot of that comes through just our time and spent with offices and with practices and we have the ability to say, hey, this little thing worked awesome for this practice over here. Now we can kind of coach other offices. So, you know, it's the whole, all boats rise with the tide sort of idea that we figure out them as a little niche there. All dental practices are the same in a lot of ways, so what works for one most of the time will work for others if it's tweaked a little bit. So.
Alec Goldman (15:43.978): Yeah, that was a really interesting point when, especially if somebody leaves the office, you have some turnover. So does that mean that Retain and Smile is also helping out with SOP and documentation of onboarding new potential employees of a dental practice?
Ryan Corby (15:58.75): Uh, it's a necessary evil. Yes. Yeah. We basically had enough phone calls from our clients that have said come down or get on the call or whatever and retrain those. And I'm like, oh, after the seventh time of like, clearly that doctor doesn't keep anybody at the front for more than a month, then we kind of started creating our own internal training materials specifically for an office. So we'll have sort of a hidden landing page or a training series of, you know, the top five getting started with this practice. And because we've recorded those videos unique to that practice, then they can see that it's there. You know, we're not dealing with HIPAA violations. It's all protected and stuff, but then they can see, oh, this is how this office does it. Because again, you have two different practices is they have two different rules of school thought here with how they like their reminders. So if we had a blanket sort of answer of like how they like their appointment reminders 14 days before or two days before, that uniqueness needs to stay with the practice that we had originally set up with, said office manager owner number one at the beginning. So, yeah, we have offices that we create specific training tutorials for so that when I always ask our clients, if somebody comes on new, at least just tell me that they came on and we'll kind of get them into the pipeline because half the time they're like, oh, she joined six months ago. And it's like, you should have told me that when she came on or he came on, you know. So, yeah. So that kind of following up and continuing to further reinforce the plan that we put together with the owner of the practice when we first started working together. So that DNA can live that way. And this is something I learned early on too. That way office managers come and go, staff comes and go. But ultimately, you know, that's what I love about dentistry is it's small business. I've born and raised in s mall business owners and operators, you know, the nine times out of 10 or maybe 8 now these days, you know, the dentist is still the owner operator and you know, they, they know what's best for the practice and you can have people come and go, but sort of the communication and that culture of engagement, communication can kind of stay the same. And that's what we really help in. You know, we help with a new office manager comes in and she says, this is how I did it in my last practice. Then sometimes we have to step in and say, no, but the owner of the dog, you know, our practice is set out this way. And this is the course that this, this office is sailing. And so here's how to sort of, you know, continue on or this is what we found works best with this practice, those sorts of things. So those conversations are not the funnest, but the truth is setting that consistency that works best for the practice that's mostly dictated by the owner or the doctor or the face of the company and then continued on. So that plays out through all the training and everything.
Alec Goldman (18:21.89): So at some level, you're certainly a lot more than just the effective patient communications team. It's much more than retaining and engaging patients because you're also doing a whole damn lot when it comes to making sure that the staff are equipped to know how to use those tools, but also onboard new folks to make sure that when somebody leaves, a new person comes in, that nothing is really felt from the patient experience.
Ryan Corby (18:47.451): Yeah, absolutely. Nothing slips through the cracks. We like to say that. No patients, no staff, no sort of policies, procedures. Yeah, very systematic sort of approach, but very customized systematic approach. Yeah, because when it's done effectively, when it's done efficiently, it's very, very effective. You know, we track metrics. Really cool thing about dentistry, especially with automation, you know, platforms like NexHealth is that you are tied into the PMS and you have down to the penny of accuracy. I mean, people want to talk about money and return on investment ROI. I mean, it's just incredible how much that you can track and how effective. You can see that this recall campaign has produced a quarter of a million dollars this year or this specific email that we sent out went to these patients. These many patients opened it. These many patients scheduled treatment from it. Well, now we can see that. yYou know, retain and smile. We paid this much this month. Well, one newsletter that we sent out or one follow up campaign sound, you know, provided that. And there's no arguing with that. It's like, Hey, this is real money, real dollars right out of your, you know, PMS. This is your patient. You can very clearly see how impactful this was to your practice, bottom line, your patients, you know, et cetera. And that's what's cool thing about working with the tool again, like NexHealth that integrates to PMS so deeply that all that's there. This is not a total third party software that you're hoping and relying on Google Analytics for some big crazy complicated thing. You're mirrored to Egosoft, Dentrix, whatever, and that gives trust to the owner of the practice that it's real numbers, it's real patients, it's real dollars, and hopefully they see that value in working with somebody like us.
Alec Goldman (20:17.238): Yeah. So certainly with the tool itself, you have trackability. So, you know, what's effective, what's not effective. But I feel like there's often a weird perception that when you use tools instead of people, you're lacking personalization, which obviously, it certainly sounds probably, certainly to me, perhaps to you, sounds a little ridiculous. Given that you're somebody who really lives in the weeds of a next health of a revenue well. Can you explain a little bit why that may not be the case?
Ryan Corby (20:50.767): Oh, quite simply, we are taking so many little tedious tasks off a staff member's plate that they spend more time with the patients. They get to spend more one-on-one time with somebody that has a really, you know, tough treatment case or whatever else it is. You know, if we take X number of hours off of labor for calling and recalling or sending postcards or whatever, then that's even more time that they are able to, to deepen a relationship with a patient that's in front of them in flesh and blood right there that they can spend more time with. It allows them to spend more time on the important things and less time on the mundane tedious tasks. I mean, that's really the bottom line of it. So, you know, again, when it's put in effectively, you could reduce your phone calls. You just always drives me nuts even with some of our current clients, we walk in and they have like somebody on the phone nonstop and it's like you're calling people on the phone during the day when they're at work, whatever else. One text message probably just saved you three minutes. I'm an efficiency, not, you know, crazy person obviously minutes matter here and there. And when you over cost a hundred phone calls a day, one text message that can save three minutes on a phone call times a hundred patients in a day. That's real savings. Bottom line for the owner of the practice, bottom line hours of the day for the manager and assistance and front desk people. So yeah, the short answer is the technology people don't need a human touch with everything as simple as confirming an appointment. They said, are you going to be there? Yes, I'm going to be there. That's it. If I get my haircut, I get an appointment reminder from him. I get from my dental office, I mean the car oil change. I don't need to spend three minutes on the phone call doing that. I want to get on my way and do my own sort of thing. And then when I get to the office, I can spend time talking with the doctor when I need to. So yeah, that's the biggest sort of goofy thing is that like, oh, it's going to be more robotic. No, it's not. It's going to allow you to spend more time and create a deeper relationship with your patients when they're in front of you.
Alec Goldman (22:38.866): Yeah, I think there's a great point you made there in regards to like, there's certain moments where you just want the reliability. So if personalization of a message, which is far from the truth anyway, um, if you were to prioritize that and the message didn't go through because somebody forgot to send it, I just would rather the reliable automated message thing show up, show up, show up. So I don't miss my appointment as opposed to this perception that having it come from a person, which is probably going to be missed 50% of the time. To me, it sounds like a clear trade off.
Ryan Corby (23:08.707): Oh, absolutely. Yep. And what if humans break down, you know, have a human's breakdown system, systems break, but not as often as humans. So if Sally was out sick that day or got busy because something big case came in or they had a kid that was out of control. I mean, there's so many things that can happen and she forgot to get that far down the list or he forgot to get down the list. There's more room for error with, you know, relying 100% on it. The perfect hybrid is the technology and the human. But again, if the technology can do 80% of the work, leave the human to come in and do the 20%. And that 20% is a very important part, so we can't get rid of it entirely. But it's a lot more richer, more effective work that they're doing when they're not having to just call over and over and over again with all those other reminders. Yeah. We and I will steal the term from somebody else, but I like the idea of it, you know, of, of no human in the loop, you know, like how much can we rely on technology, but not be the robots are taking over. There are so many things in our life that we don't need a human for. Let's let the technology do that and have no human in that loop. But, allow more time for a human to involve, be involved where they need to be, where it matters most. You know, it doesn't matter if a human says, yes, I'm an indentrix. I'm going to mark you from unconfirmed to confirm a human doesn't need to do that. But a human does need to have a personal touch when they're dealing with somebody that's going through a hard situation. They don't have the money to pay for a desperately needed treatment, whatever it is, you know, how much of other life stuff happens between you and your caretaker, your care provider that you need to be free and available to do. So yeah, I can rant about all that all day long. But it's true. Yeah.
Alec Goldman (24:44.93): Right, we're coming up at time. I always want to make sure that we always have our guest on, make a last statement. Is there anything that we did not cover in regards to effective pitching communications that you wanted to cover?
Ryan Corby (24:57.843): Well, you know, we obviously talked a lot about keeping patients top and keeping you top of mind with patients through reminders and the basics for this stuff. You know, there is this whole other world of really where I'd say if you really want to look at our dollars, internal marketing is so effective. When you have some of these other communication tools set up, then your internal marketing is even more effective. And I think not underestimating how powerful internal marketing is and using your communication system to do that. Yeah, don't underestimate it. I mean, how many times I'm like, and we're talking with a client, I'm like, you have that technology, you have that scanner, you have that laser. Do your patients even know about that? Send out one marketing campaign about that. And all of a sudden you're, you know, you're doing laser chemistry, you do all these things. So, using your communication tool to just at least remind patients of the things that you have, the technologies you have, the services that you can provide. Did you know we have sedation dentistry? Maybe somebody hasn't been in three years and you just started doing sedation dentistry last year. How many more patients would you have back if you just let them know that? So, people hear marketing and they hear this all the time. We don't need marketing. Our patients just come in when they are supposed to or whatever else. But how many more things as a dental practice are you advancing your ability to care for patients by investing in technology or new treatments or other sorts of things that, you know, ha-. An average office has thousands of patients in their roster. If you have not kept them up to speed with the things you're doing, how do you expect them to come in? Maybe they just decided to jump on your website and hopefully you put it on your website. So I really encourage offices to let's get the communication sort of stuff dialed in and the day to day is for stuff going. But then using that tool, like NexHealth to run filters, run reports and do internal marketing simply, you don't even have to have a deal. People are like, I don't offer discounts. Okay, don't, but just tell people, did you know you can get a crown done in a day at because we have this cool thing, come in and do it. You've been thinking about it, whatever. So yeah, internal marketing has such a sleazy feeling sometimes. You're just communicating with your patients. You're reminding them what you can do for them. You're reminding them why you can do that and that you care for them and that you want to do that for them. And here's how you can do that. Case solved.
Alec Goldman (27:07.299): Yeah, I think it's just, again, it's when you talk about effective patient communications, it's being authentic. It's having your patient or your consumer in mind. So if you were to say, hey, I have this new thing, there's obviously a way to say 20% off, come get this thing. Sounds extremely salesy. But if you say, hey, if you've been thinking about something, we just invested in this new technology, we would love for you to check it out. If it's something that you're, if you have questions about, let us know. It's an entirely different sounding statement that does offer the same thing.
Ryan Corby (27:33.884): Mm-hmm. Yeah, absolutely.
Alec Goldman (27:35.65): So really about thinking about, I guess, your communications in more of a patient-centric way as opposed to a salesy message.
Ryan Corby (27:44.315): Yeah, absolutely. And patients have different responses at different times. I mean, marketing really is simply sending the right patient or the right message to the right person at the right time. My wife gets 400 emails a day from Macy's and 99% of them she scraps. But if she's sitting at gymnastics waiting for 10 minutes to pick up my daughter and she just so happens to get one at the right time and she's got 10 minutes. Oh, well, there's the thing that you wanted to buy, you know. So there is a balance of like spamming people, but also providing the information that they need. And they didn't know that they needed a crown or they just heard their neighbor talk about laser dentistry and all of a sudden they just can email from their office and says, did you know that we can do, you know, whatever laser cavities with no shots and get it done? Oh man, now they need that done. So you know, you're meeting the people with what the issues that they have. The other one is following up with, maybe they're saying no for a number of different reasons. So a lot of our treatment plan follow-up sort of campaigns that we send out, if somebody goes into practice, doctor or staff proposes a treatment, they don't schedule it and they go home. Whatever the reasons, they got to talk to their spouse, they got to do this, they got to do that, they don't schedule that treatment. That's where the cool platforms can pick that up and start marketing to those patients. Hey, we know you didn't have this done. But don't say the same thing over and over again. We have a pretty standard three to four different campaigns. The first one is, hey, wanted to just follow up with you. Did you have any questions about the things we line item? They don't book the appointment from that message. Then the next one goes out a week later. Hey, are you worried about money? Is money the issue? Did you know that we work with a third party financing called fill in the blank? It's 0%. It's the sort of, if money is a problem, we partnered with this company and let's get it done and you can pay it off later. Whatever that goes by. Next one goes out. Hey, are you afraid of the dentist? Are you afraid of pain? We do sedation dentistry. No problem. It's complimentary nitrous. It comes with every practice. If that's what you're worried about. No big deal, dude. Click here, book the appointment and we're good to go. So they might've ignored the first two because those weren't the problems. It was the fear that was the problem. And then you finally nailed it. Now they're like, awesome, I'll move forward. So those are the things you just got to serve up and you can't do that in one follow-up phone call. You can't do that in one email. You got to be intelligent with it and look at the things that the reasons and this is the marketer. I mean, look at the reasons people are saying no or why they say yes. And you got to be consistent with serving those up. So yeah. Yep.
Alec Goldman (29:58.23): Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the show today. There's a whole lot of tangible advice, even just getting to the marketing stuff at the very end. I know we could do a whole episode on that, but we'll definitely get you back on the show soon.
Enlive will officially sunset in

Welcome to "How I Grew My Practice," a podcast presented by NexHealth. In today's episode, we have a special guest, Ryan Corby, the CEO and founder of Retain and Smile, here to share his insights on effective patient communication strategies to retain and engage patients.

Patient retention and engagement are crucial factors for the success of any dental practice. This episode highlights Ryan's tips for enhancing patient retention and engagement, focusing on key strategies and the role of technology in streamlining communication processes.

Why Effective Patient Communication is Crucial

Ryan Corby emphasizes the importance of effective patient communication in achieving specific goals for dental practices. These goals include increasing patient appointments, improving hygiene recall rates, ensuring a fuller schedule, and encouraging patients to accept proposed treatments. By establishing clear and informative communication, practices can educate patients about the importance of recommended treatments, provide treatment details, share cost information, and find convenient appointment times. Utilizing patient experience technology like NexHealth is crucial for scaling effective communication efforts and reducing staff workload.

Understanding Your Practice’s Values

When working with a dental practice, Ryan Corby advises starting by understanding the practice's values, treatment approach, and desired patient communication style. “So step one is really getting to understand the brand, understand the words they use to make sure that we mimic the doctor, the hygienist, the feeling of the office so that it actually feels like it's coming through a text message or email,” suggests Ryan. 

This analysis helps tailor communication strategies to align with the practice's culture and brand. By adapting verbiage and communication frequency to match the practice's tone, the messages become more personalized and less disconnected from the established patient-practice relationship. The goal is to make patients feel like they are receiving care and attention from their trusted dental professionals.

Implementing Effective Patient Communication 

The first step in implementing effective patient communication is mirroring the practice's existing communication style and processes. Ryan Corby suggests adjusting and rewriting text messages and campaigns to reflect the practice's culture and values. This ensures that the messages resonate with patients and enhance the patient-practice relationship. Additionally, Ryan emphasizes the importance of utilizing technology to automate communication processes while maintaining a personalized touch. This allows practices to extend their reach and provide consistent communication without overwhelming their staff.

Measuring Results and Iterating

After implementing the initial communication strategies, Ryan Corby advises measuring their effectiveness and iterating based on the results. This process involves monitoring patient responses, analyzing data, and continuously refining the communication approach. By tracking patient engagement, practices can identify areas for improvement and experiment with different communication frequencies and channels. This iterative approach fosters creativity and encourages practices to explore additional communication ideas, such as follow-up messages, videos, and personalized touchpoints at specific intervals.


Patient retention and engagement are essential for the success of dental practices. By implementing effective communication strategies and leveraging technology, practices can optimize patient appointments, improve treatment acceptance rates, and strengthen patient relationships. Ryan Corby's expertise in patient communication provides valuable insights and guidance for dental practices seeking to enhance patient retention and engagement. By understanding the practice's DNA, implementing personalized communication, measuring results, and collaborating with the practice team, practices can create a positive patient experience, leading to improved outcomes and long-term success.

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