6 Strategies to Harness the Power of Online Booking for Your Practice with Harrison Grant

In this episode of How I Grew My Practice, we delve into the strategies that can help dental practices overcome the prevailing stigmas and misconceptions surrounding online booking to accelerate growth.

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Alec Goldman (00:04.726)
Welcome to How I Grew My Practice, a podcast presented by NexHealth. I'm your host, Alec. In this episode, we have NexHealth's very own Harrison Grant, a sales leader, and one of NexHealth's very first employees.
Alec Goldman (00:33.718)
here to talk about the stigma and importance of online booking in 2023. Harry, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Harrison Grant (00:40.978)
Great, Alec. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.
Alec Goldman (00:44.822)
For those who don't know Mr. Harrison Grant, if you can just give us a little bit of background on yourself, I know I gave you a little bit, but who you are and kind of what brought you to NexHealth and what have you been up to here?
Harrison Grant (00:55.71)
Yeah. So I joined NexHealth throughout college. So graduated college in 2019 joined as a, I was the first SDR here. So SDR person that calls practices a hundred times until they agree to meet with, meet with us for a demo, right? Um, since then I've, I've been in SDR. I've been in an account executive. So like running those demos, showing practices NexHealth. Um, I've been, uh, like a team lead.
Harrison Grant (01:25.162)
as well as now I manage a team of account executives, teaching them how to show next off to practices, how to convince people that something like online booking, for example, is beneficial to a practice.
Alec Goldman (01:41.774)
Cool. Well, I mean, here, for those who don't know, Harry, given that he's spent, I mean, two plus years speaking with thousands of dental practices, has really seen the pitfalls of ways that, you know, practice kind of fell and then other ways and recommendations or making recommendations to improve practices. Again, one of those things that we at NexHealthNexHealth certainly recommend is online booking. But Harry is, you know, and I now know after being here for years, a lot of practices just do not have online booking.
Alec Goldman (02:11.742)
available on their website or their social media channels. There's really a stigma behind online booking. If you can share a little bit about what that stigma is and why practices haven't quickly adopted online booking at their practice.
Harrison Grant (02:25.758)
Yeah, absolutely. It's pretty interesting. Because like online booking, it's like, it's so prevalent, like in society, right for all sorts of different things. Like if there's an option to book online, majority of people are going to take that option every time, whether it's a, you know, haircut, you know, booking a plane, movie tickets, etc. But in dental, it's like, very, very, very low prevalence, like very few dental practices have online scheduling, like true, you know, integrated online scheduling.
Harrison Grant (02:55.986)
Um, and from my experience, like there's a few reasons why, uh, the main one is it's not that like, don't practice, don't see the value of it. Like they, they know people like scheduling online, like they know people call them after hours and such, right. Um, but it's typically a stigma of like, maybe they've tried it before with a different company. Um, and that company probably had like more of a templated, like one size fits all approach for online scheduling.
Harrison Grant (03:24.398)
and didn't really pay attention to the fact that like every dental practice is very unique, very different, both in like how they schedule patients, like their workflows for scheduling patients, as well as their priorities, right? Are they trying to like grow a ton? Are they trying to get just cash patients? Do they not want certain types of insurances, that sort of thing? So I think this stigma is generally not believing that
Harrison Grant (03:53.89)
a company that does online scheduling like Next Health can actually provide a scheduling tool to an office that's like not going to make a huge headache for their scheduling team, right? And so that's ultimately like what we have to like try to battle like every day is like, you know, yeah, online scheduling makes sense, but like, is it going to destroy our schedule? And is the doc going to be upset and all these different things, right?
Alec Goldman (04:19.71)
Yeah. When you say that there's headaches at the office, so let's say a practice adopted online scheduling, but it caused a headache to the point that it wasn't being used and it was just causing more mayhem than it was being productive. What do you like? Can you describe a little bit about what that headache is? What are, what are things that happen in the office where they would be like, this, this just doesn't work anymore?
Harrison Grant (04:42.506)
Yeah, it depends. Like, if I had to try to, you know, sum up all the bad experiences that can and have happened with our unscheduling tools, it would take take quite a long time. I would say like, generally, it's patients not knowing what appointment they want to book booking the wrong appointments online. And then that scheduling tool, you know, not being able to account for doing that appropriately, as well as like, you know,
Harrison Grant (05:12.39)
not scheduling someone at the times the practice like would like to schedule them, right? So for example, like a doctor has a preference of only doing let's say, hygiene from 12 to 5pm. Most scheduling tools in the past like don't have the ability of like executing on like making that happen. And so there's this general just belief that like scheduling doesn't work, only scheduling doesn't work for a dental. I would say there's also like a lot of misconceptions, I think.
Harrison Grant (05:41.838)
You know, one of the most common one when I talked to, um, office managers, Dennis and such is like, there's no way an online scheduling tool could like book our treatment, like procedures, um, in the way that like, uh, office manager or like scheduling coordinator can to which like they're a hundred percent correct, right? It's like, if, you know, one patient needs an hour and a half for an extraction, the other needs, you know, two hours for the extraction. Um, like we're not going to really be able to differentiate that.
Harrison Grant (06:11.458)
But also it's like, if someone needs an extraction, like the ease in which they can schedule that appointment, it's like not going to play a huge factor, right? Like whether they have to call or email or send like a homing pigeon, you know, they're going to like get, get their extraction if they, if they need it done. Um, so I think that misconception that we're going to be booking all these like treatment procedures, which are super, super variable, um, a lot of preferences that surround them, um, not going to be doing that.
Harrison Grant (06:38.766)
like what we generally focus on with online scheduling is like there's more preliminary appointments like the new patient exam or new patient exam and cleanings, the consultations, the existing patient cleanings, like recalling patients back into the office. Because those appointments, like to be honest, like a cleaning can oftentimes be relatively trivial to a patient and like their overall health, like they're not going to die if they don't get their cleaning. But at the same time, it's like typically always covered by insurance. So it's not like they're paying a ton of money for that appointment.
Harrison Grant (07:08.97)
And what that causes is like the ease in booking actually does play a factor in like whether or not they book with that practice or book at all. Um, or, you know, maybe it takes them a super long time to remember that. Okay. They got to call the office during the day at work and such.
Alec Goldman (07:27.174)
So when obviously there's online booking that's offered that will not meet the needs of a practice, their online scheduling workflow, and that there are some technology out there that does actually customize enough to fit the bill. What are the characteristics of technology that dentists and office managers should be considering when finding the right online booking tool?
Harrison Grant (07:53.514)
Yeah, good question. First, what I would consider kind of like table stakes is the integration with the health record system. I can definitely understand massive frustration with scheduling tools if every time someone books, the appointment time they booked is not actually available in the schedule. Or it would be like a double booking, right?
Harrison Grant (08:21.942)
or the office gets the request for the appointment and then by the time they go to put it in the health record system, that appointment's already taken, right? That would cause massive frustration if I was in those shoes, right? So the integration, super key. Making it so that there's a 24-7 receptionist working with the practice, that's gonna put the appointment actually into the health record.
Harrison Grant (08:47.362)
record system and if they want a new patient to be created upon scheduling, like doing that for them as well. That's super important. Um, but the only reason like that is effective and not like a fiasco for the scheduling team is the custom building of the scheduling tool. So if you're going to sign up with a company that is like a one size fits all approach, right? Like where they just give you like this template tool, um, and you know, tell you to, you know,
Harrison Grant (09:17.406)
get after it, it's not gonna work majority of the time. So making sure that you're using a company that is consultative about, hey, like how do you schedule patients? What are your priorities, right? And then customizing the scheduling tool based on those things. And there's like hundreds, if not thousands of different iterations of how you could, curate the scheduling tool. And ultimately it all depends on like the...
Harrison Grant (09:47.25)
what they need, how they're scheduling patients. So if you don't have those two things, it's probably not gonna work. And that's where I can understand like the stigma, right? It's like, I don't think there's many companies that actually can do that.
Alec Goldman (10:00.01)
Yeah. So 2023 practices often fall into their habits. They have technology that they may like, they may not love. Some, I guess, I think the stat is that only around 25% of practices have online booking. So there's still obviously so many that do not. Why make a change today in May now?
Harrison Grant (10:05.138)
Alec Goldman (10:26.85)
to consider an integrated online booking tool for your practice.
Harrison Grant (10:33.39)
Yeah, good question. I mean, I can, I'm one of those people where like, it's almost never the right time to do like anything different. Like I'm always like, yeah, I'll do it tomorrow. I'll do it next month. So I definitely understand this concept of like, I like the idea of scheduling, but like maybe after the summer when like, we're not as busy. I definitely understand that.
Harrison Grant (11:01.542)
And I would just say like, uh, in terms, it depends like what the office is, like what their goals are, what they're striving for. Um, like different people and different goals require like, um, different reasons for having like online scheduling, of course. So if, if you need to grow, for example, um, if you need to grow now, not in August, then like that's a good reason to get online scheduling. Um, also.
Harrison Grant (11:30.418)
Uh, I guess with, you know, summer coming up, like one of the busiest times of years of people looking for dentists. So, um, I think there's a lot of opportunity out there. It just depends on how soon you want to try to capitalize on that. Um, and in obviously like you can acquire patients without scheduling goal, like of course, but, um, I think it's hard to argue that it doesn't increase.
Harrison Grant (11:54.918)
your chances of getting that patient, if they find you at 8pm, and you can get them right then and there and you don't have to rely on them getting hold of you tomorrow or your staff getting ahold of them from like a contact form, for example. So yeah, just depends, I would say like depends on the practice. Like if you're booked out super far in advance, and you know, you don't really need more new patients or need more, you know, consultations, like Invisalign and stuff like that.
Harrison Grant (12:23.642)
then I probably wouldn't try to convince you to get it. But if you are looking to fill the schedule, it's ultimately a more convenient way for patients to get on your schedule. And I think we've seen time and time again in like society in general, it's like convenience equals more opportunity, ultimately like more revenue.
Alec Goldman (12:45.674)
Yeah. So I think intuitively, it totally makes sense that if you have online booking, it essentially means that a patient can book you when they want to, which is often after hours from their own work. But can you explain a little bit about how online booking helps practices from an efficiency perspective? Because I think that that's something that a lot of practices don't see right off the bat.
Harrison Grant (12:56.771)
Harrison Grant (13:11.746)
Yeah. Yeah. And it can be like, you know, fairly obvious. I think that the important thing is to understand is, you know, a scheduling tool can actually make it more time intensive to get like that same appointment in a lot of cases, I think that's where like a stigma comes from, you know, it's like you get this appointment request. Now you have to get ahold of that patient to like try to reschedule their appointment, like all these all these things. And so
Harrison Grant (13:42.854)
For the efficiency side of things, first of all, it needs to be set up, like I was saying earlier, based on their goals, their priorities, and how they're already scheduling patients. And once that is true, then ultimately, it's just another patient that you don't have to get a hold of on the phone. I think we can all sympathize with front office workers and all the calls they have to make, all the smiles they have to keep throughout the day. And so just...
Harrison Grant (14:12.602)
Reducing that call volume, I think it's pretty self-explanatory. Like less calls, same or more amount of appointments. And, uh, like what I tell people is like, you know, offices that I've signed up in the past that I speak with, like one of their favorite things is like getting to the office in the morning, checking their voicemail and instead of having like five voicemails to reach back out to, like they can, their calendar has five booked appointments on it. Right. Um, so.
Harrison Grant (14:41.53)
I think it can be pretty obvious. It's just less patients you have to track down over the phone or play email.
Harrison Grant (14:51.086)
they can book it, you know, when they are being proactive, which to be honest, like for like a hygiene appointment or something like that, like pretty slim windows of time when the patient's like, I need to get this appointment, you know? So like when they feel that proactivity capitalizing on it immediately is.
Alec Goldman (15:10.606)
Cool. All right, we're coming up at the 15 minute mark. I just want to give you a quick last opportunity. Is there anything on online scheduling that we have not discussed that you think is top of the mind for the audience to be aware of?
Harrison Grant (15:13.074)
Thanks for watching!
Harrison Grant (15:23.342)
Um, yeah, I would say like, I think it's pretty easy to talk about online scheduling. And I think it's pretty common to think of it from like a new patient perspective, right? Like people, it's online scheduling, right? People going online on your website, your social media, any marketing and ads you do, right. But I would say one of the like, what's even more beneficial for practice than that is how effective it is for your existing patients as well.
Harrison Grant (15:52.162)
And so one of the main things people love about NexHealth is that we don't wanna be like a notification tool to say like, hey, you're due for your appointment, figure out a way to get ahold of us to book that, right? We wanna say, hey, you're due for your appointment, here are the next available times to come in for that. So the patient can book with one click, we already know who they are, we already sent them the email and the text, right? So they don't have to fill out all their information over again.
Harrison Grant (16:21.654)
Um, and that process for getting your existing patients back on the schedule and making sure you're retaining patients that are high rate, because a lot of offices paid quite a lot of money for like each new patient, it's important they keep coming back. Um, I can definitely understand frustration with having to track all those patients down yourself, like over the phone. So, um, I would say like, don't forget about online scheduling in all your communications, right? So any message you send to a patient has the goal of getting them to book an appointment, let them book it.
Harrison Grant (16:49.878)
right from that message. Don't make them track you down.
Alec Goldman (16:54.262)
Yeah, we'll definitely need to get you back on to have a whole conversation about retaining patients, re-care programs. But folks, this is Harry Grant. If you want to have a conversation with him, feel free to go to NexHealth. You might be lucky enough if you click the Get a Demo button to have a conversation with him. If not, just ping him at harry or harrison.grant@ nexhealth.com.
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Online booking has become prevalent in various industries, offering convenience and efficiency to customers. However, the dental industry has been slower to adopt this technology due to certain stigmas and misconceptions surrounding it. In this episode of How I Grew My Practice, we will explore strategies to overcome the stigma of online booking in dental practices, based on the insights of Harrison Grant, a sales leader at NexHealth.

1. Understand the Unique Needs of Your Practice

Dental practices have specific workflows and priorities when it comes to scheduling patients. Recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to online booking may not work for every practice. Customization is key to ensuring that the online scheduling tool aligns with your practice's requirements and enhances your efficiency.

2. Choose a Tool That Offers a Consultative Approach

Many practices have been hesitant to adopt online booking due to past negative experiences with generic scheduling tools. Address these concerns by partnering with a company that offers a consultative approach, taking into account the unique characteristics of each dental practice. Know that online scheduling can be tailored to the needs of your practice, and a reliable tool will ensure your system is set up based on your preference.

3. Integration with Health Record Systems is Crucial

To ensure a seamless scheduling process, it is crucial to choose an online booking tool that integrates with your practice's health record system. This integration prevents double bookings and discrepancies between the online schedule and the actual availability of appointments. It also eliminates the frustration of manually transferring appointment information to the health record system.

NexHealth built a proprietary technology called the Synchronizer to give you the most reliable way to automatically sync patient records between your office and NexHealth, so your staff never has to manually enter patient bookings and forms again. Learn more about NexHealth.

4. Let Patients Book 24/7 

One of the benefits of online booking is the ability for patients to schedule appointments outside of regular office hours. Ensure that the online booking tool includes a feature that automatically adds appointments to the health record system, even when the office is closed. This virtual receptionist support enhances patient convenience and reduces the burden on the scheduling team.

5. Focus on Preliminary Appointments

While online scheduling may not be suitable for complex treatment procedures, it is highly effective for preliminary appointments such as new patient exams, cleanings, and consultations. Emphasize the ease of booking these types of appointments, as they are often less time-sensitive and typically covered by insurance. By streamlining these processes, practices can attract more patients and improve their overall efficiency.

6. Capitalize on Seasonal Opportunities

Timing is crucial when considering the implementation of online booking. Harrison suggests that practices should highlight the upcoming busy periods, such as summer when people are actively looking for dental services. By offering online booking during these peak times, practices can seize the opportunity to acquire new patients who prefer the convenience of scheduling appointments online.

A Final Note

Overcoming the stigma of online booking in dental practices requires addressing the unique concerns and needs of each practice. By customizing the scheduling tool, integrating it with health record systems, and highlighting its efficiency and convenience, practices can embrace online booking and enhance their operations. By implementing these strategies, dental practices can improve patient experience, attract new patients, and ultimately grow their practice in the digital age.

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