SoftwarePundit Technology Innovator: Dr. Julia Heinrichs, DDS
In this Technology Innovator installment, SoftwarePundit spoke with Dr. Julia Heinrichs about how she used teledentistry to acquire more new patients than her practice could handle. The strategy outlined below helped her practice grow, boosted her team's morale, and was a key factor in the successful sale of her business.
In 2018, Dr. Heinrichs was managing a general family and cosmetic practice based in Lenexa, Kansas. Dr. Heinrichs is naturally curious, and like many dentists, was searching for an innovative way to bring new patients to her practice. She had experience with teledentistry, and hypothesized that this technology could help her unlock a new acquisition channel without ever leaving her office.
Dr. Heinrichs began contacting local business owners to see if they would be interested in offering free on-site dental screenings as an employee benefit. By offering these free screenings, she believed that her practice could identify local patients without a dental home and convert them into new patients. Her strategy worked.
How to Acquire New Patients Using Teledentistry
Below, we break down Dr. Heinrichs' innovative patient acquisition strategy. Learn about the specific technology tools she used, the details of her process, and the ultimate impact it had on her business.
Business Goal: Acquire New Patients
All dental practices must acquire new patients to stay in business and grow. However, many of the well-known acquisition strategies are expensive and ineffective. As Dr. Heinrichs noted, "Dentists pay a lot for marketing. Whether it's flyers or spending a fortune on SEO."
Dr. Heinrichs hoped that on-site corporate screenings would be a low-cost patient acquisition channel that could scale. "The goal was for this to be a very low cost, extremely effective way to gain new patients", Dr. Henrichs said.
Technology Used by Dr. Heinrichs
Dr. Heinrichs used an innovative combination of dental technology to execute her patient acquisition strategy:
- PDF Filler: HIPAA-compliant tool that can be used for patient intake, $15/month.
- MouthWatch Intraoral Camera: Camera used to produce high-quality images, $299.
- MouthWatch software: Teledentistry software, $149/month.
- VELscope: Oral cancer screening system from Apteryx.
- Diagnodent KaVo: Tool to measure depth of cavities.
- Vsee: HIPAA compliant telehealth software, $199-499/month. Or use Doxy.me's free plan.
- EagleSoft: Dental practice management software.
- Laptop with video camera: Used by her dental assistant while on-site.
A Step-by-step Overview of Dr. Heinrichs' Process
In our interview, Dr. Heinrichs broke down her strategy step by step to make it possible for other practices to replicate. Here's how it worked:
- Find local businesses that you would be interested in partnering with.
- Ask the business owner or HR department if they're interested in offering their employees a free, on-site dental screening.
- Interested businesses contact your dental practice to ask questions and work out logistical details.
- Provide each business an informational handout & sign-up sheet to post in its office.
- Interested employees sign up for a free 30 minute screening on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Email the registered employees HIPAA-compliant intake forms.
- Once the intake forms are complete, you are alerted and can review.
- On the day of the screenings, a dental assistant goes to the business' office with the necessary equipment.
- Perform the corporate on-site screenings – 20 minutes with the dental assistant, and 10 minutes with the dentist.
- At the end of the screenings, have a 1-on-1 conversation with the patients about the screening and encourage them to sign up for a new patient exam at your practice.
- Onboard the patient with your existing intake workflow to ensure they arrive for their new patient exam.
Impact: How Many New Patients Did She Acquire?
Dr. Heinrichs' patient acquisition strategy was very effective. "This strategy allowed us to acquire as many new patients as we needed," she shared.
While on-site, Dr. Henrichs and her team saw a new patient every 30 minutes. Two-thirds (66%) of these patients became high-quality new patients. This means four new patients could be acquired in a three hour visit.
Bringing new patients to the practice also had an impact on her team's morale. "Being a part of a healthy, growing practice is inspiring for the whole team," Dr. Heinrichs shared. "It gave the team confidence in our operations, and they enjoyed getting to know new patients."
Who Can Take Advantage of This Strategy?
Dr Heinrichs believes that this strategy can work for any general dentist. "As long as you can take a little time of out your schedule to see the new patient and make a connection with them, this should work," she said. "You can't do full exams in all states, but all 50 states do allow remote screenings."
Marketing strategies also tend to be far more effective before they become mainstream. According to Dr. Heinrichs, there aren't many dentists using this approach to acquire new patients. "I was doing this in 2018, and there's still no one doing it in my area," she shared.