Watch Now: Why Isn’t Your Website Converting Inquiries Into Consults?

How is your website at converting visitors to leads? Your website should be working for you to convert inquiries into consults. We recently held a webinar on this very subject in partnership with DynaFlex, a leading source of orthodontic supplies, 3D digital services, and dental sleep medicine.

In this educational video we reviewed:

  • How to increase conversions with target webpages
  • Best placement for calls-to-action on your website
  • Importance of a user interface and experience
  • How to utilize a website chatbot correctly

If you missed the webinar, don’t worry. You can still watch the entire presentation below. Let us know what you think.

At People + Practice, we will work with a client to develop a website that takes full advantage of all of our digital marketing services, creating a 360-degree program that begins and ends with customer engagement with your brand, quickly and efficiently – whether it’s on social media, email, or Google search results. When a potential patient finds a website built by People + Practice, they will stick around and they will convert.

Avoid Legal Entanglements Before They Become an Issue for Your Practice

Orthodontists today already have a lot on their plate. Running a practice involves a whole host of business and management skills outside of the specialty and protecting yourself from legal issues before they become a problem is an important part of it.

Recently, we sat down to speak with Trey Lawrence for a wide-ranging discussion about the critically important legal issues that an orthodontic practice might come across. Lawrence knows his stuff. He’s the Vice President and General Counsel at the American Association of Orthodontists. He also practiced with a large law firm in St. Louis for over 15 years, concentrating in the areas of litigation and regulatory matters.

Below is the result of that interview, which is chock-full of advice and strategies to help mitigate any legal entanglements you might come across in your own orthodontic practice.

Online reviews

One of the foundations of People + Practice’s marketing services is reputation management. We primarily focus on getting positive reviews posted online. Invariably, we have to field a negative comment. Our reputation management system helps to keep those comments off sites like Google and Facebook by providing a vehicle for orthodontists to address the negative experience before the public can see it online. But every once in a while, a negative comment does sneak through and appears on the web. Without a reputation management program in place an orthodontist must deal with public negative reviews.

While our knee jerk reaction is to respond – which is not necessarily wrong – taking some time to consider how to reply and in what way will be the best strategy. You want to keep your responses as brief as possible and take that discussion offline as quickly as possible.

“You want to respond because you don’t want to just ignore it and appear unconcerned,” said Lawrence. “The wording – and there’s no magic wording – should be something like ‘it appears there’s been a misunderstanding; please contact our office to schedule a time to discuss.’”

He said that this response works because you are addressing the person’s concern, and you are not admitting liability – something that might come later if the issue does escalate for some reason.

Also, we might have the tendency to apologize in our responses when asking them to contact us. We are all taught to be kind and say sorry, but Lawrence recommends not using the word “sorry” in a response because it could be misconstrued later as an admission of liability by a third party.

When getting into a discussion online, comment number two is often meaner and nastier than the initial comment – so Lawrence recommends not getting into a flame war with a commenter and again invite the reviewer to reconcile their issue directly offline.

Keep it short and simple. By arguing substantively in response to a patient’s accusations you might inadvertently create a HIPPA violation or violate State and Federal financial privacy laws.

“It’s very easy to quickly wander into additional violations that didn’t exist before you started responding to the patient,” said Lawrence.

He also warned of the potential financial hit that this might incur to a practice.

“Those privacy laws – both HIPAA and financial – tend to carry with them some potentially weighty fines,” he said.

Digital aligner printing

Many orthodontists have or are thinking of investing in a digital printer to produce clear aligners in the office. As a practice, we like to take a page from Madison Avenue and brand our digital aligner service to make it seem unique and associate it exclusively with the practice. A great concept but one that might come with a few legal landmines you might want to avoid.

“People are aware of the FDA requirements for registration of medical devices so naturally they have a concern about printing their own aligners in-house,” said Lawrence. “Do I need to fill out paperwork with the FDA?”

Lawrence said the law isn’t entirely clear on this one but the consensus is that even though clear aligners are a Class II Medical Device that  in some instances are regulated by the FDA, if you are printing aligners in-house and using them in treatment for your own patients you do not have to register those with the FDA.

“There is a carve-out for doctors who are using a medical device for their own patients and the consensus is that the aligners fall into that,” he said.

On the issue of advertising and packaging of the clear aligners for orthodontists, he further explained that the same logic applies. There doesn’t seem to be any issue with branding your own aligners for your own patients with your practice’s name and logo.

There were two caveats, one of them directly applicable to an idea that many clients of People + Practice come to us with. Lawrence said in these two instances there could be some legal issues.

First, if the orthodontist prints aligners and sells them to another practice, meaning if the orthodontist that produces the aligner is not the doctor of record for the patient. Second, if the orthodontist creates a completely separate brand for the aligner service totally different from the practice’s own name, this could also invoke some FDA requirements.

Lawrence recommends consulting with an attorney with FDA experience if you are considering the above two scenarios.

Referral for patients

No one wants to run afoul of ethical or legal rules. Some are pretty black and white, but others are a little grayer. For example, fee splitting is one that most people understand well but do other types of referral incentives also fall under this category?

“If you made an agreement with a GP that for every patient they send, you give them 10 percent of the fee; clearly that’s going to be a fee splitting situation and it’s going to be a problem under the law in every state of the country,” said Lawrence.

More informal agreements where an orthodontist has a program to give gifts to GPs for referring patients – like giving them a case of wine every holiday, or even a golf outing – might be fine. If you are still curious whether what you are doing can be construed as fee splitting, Lawrence gave further guidance. He explained that while rules differ slightly from state to state and across the various dental boards in each state, one thing is pretty clear when it comes to determining if a referral incentive is in fact fee splitting.

“One situation you want to be careful about is if there is a one-to-one correlation per patient,” he said.

For example, giving a patient or dentist a gift card for every new patient they sent to you.

If there is a one-to-one correlation per patient though, even then it’s not automatically considered fee splitting if the dollar amount of the gift is nominal. Lawrence said that the $45 to $50 range is what many states consider nominal. But, it gets more complicated than that for other states where they aggregate the total amount of gifts monthly or annually to calculate fee splitting.

“If you’re going to be doing a referral program on a per patient basis then you really need to check with your state’s dental board rules,” Lawrence said.

Patient termination

Disruptive patients can be upsetting for everyone, your staff and your other clients sitting in the waiting room. Hopefully this has never happened in your practice but every once in a while, we must deal with an irate parent or patient. Someone might be argumentative about a small issue or because they can’t get an appointment for something they consider an emergency.

Lawrence said that state rules are very generous in the discretion that a practice has over when and why it can terminate a patient.

“There are a lot of reasons where a practice can terminate a patient and be perfectly justified under the law to do so,” he said.

Problem patients who are yelling and disrupting the office is one situation. Another is when a patient fails to abide by treatment instructions perpetually missing appointments, and chronic nonpayment are also justified.

Terminating a patient in the proper way is key to avoiding problems with your state’s dental government body if they file a complaint after you terminate their treatment.

Giving a written warning when appropriate – like missing appointments – is an important way to document your due diligence before issuing a final termination letter. Also, when you do terminate a patient, to avoid being accused of abandonment, you should outline the reasons you are ending treatment, offer to treat the patient if there is a true medical emergency, and also offer to suggest alternative providers in the area.

The word malpractice should send a shiver up every doctor’s spine. And when terminating a patient, it’s also important to check the chart to determine where they are in their treatment plan. You don’t want to leave a patient in worse shape than when you first began working with them, possibly leading to the accusation of malpractice.

“The general rule is when you discontinue treatment you need to leave the patient at least in the same or better condition that when you began treating them,” he said.

For example, in an extraction patient, you should continue treating them, especially if the extraction was very recent, so that you aren’t leaving them worse off than when they first sat down in your chair. Of course, if there is an active appliance in their mouth then you should remove that before terminating care.

Lawrence said the best resource to advise on the legal and clinical components in these situations is to consult your own malpractice insurance carrier.

The above advice is meant to offer orthodontists a guideline when dealing with certain legal issues. Rules do vary from state to state, and it can be hard to go it on your own when you think you might be coming up against a legal issue and have questions. There are a lot of resources out there, some right on the AAO website. You should also consult your state dental board or legal counsel if you have one.

Want more great advice from experts in the orthodontics industry? Click here to subscribe to our podcast, The Survival Guide For Orthodontists.

Is Your Website Working For You or Against You?

The classic baseball film Field of Dreams is known for the oft-quoted line “build it and they will come.” That snippet of wisdom imparted by a ghostly voice haunts the main character played by Kevin Costner until he takes on the task of making a baseball stadium in his corn field. Spoiler alert: Everyone thinks he’s crazy until they do in fact come from far and wide to watch America’s pastime in the middle of an Iowa corn field.

Orthodontists have the same optimism about their websites that Costner’s character did about his corn field baseball stadium: Just build it and patients will come queuing up.

Sadly, for many (or most) orthodontists, they launch their website with the best of intentions – getting all the pertinent information in there like phone number, email address, a Google Map that shows all those new patients how to get to the office for a free consultation, and perhaps some stock blog posts about the joys of straight teeth and clear aligners. Then, they sit back and wait.

Sometimes life doesn’t imitate art.

Your website is a finely tuned machine that attracts the right visitors and then converts them into leads that turn into patients. Or at least it should be. It also needs to be more than a billboard. It needs to be an active space that funnels visitors to a place where they can engage through chat, forms, or contacting a live agent to answer questions and build trust in your services through smart, up-to-date content. At the same time, your website has to be responsive to multiple screen orientations (like desktop, mobile, and tablet) and it needs to be organized, easy to navigate and tell your story. Your website has to communicate your unique brand – why your practice is different in the marketplace from all other practices. Everyone straightens teeth but why should someone come to you over some other option.

If a potential patient isn’t engaged with your website or can’t because it’s too difficult to navigate, then they will bounce, and probably to one of your local competitors or – heaven forbid – a mail order aligner company. Marketing data shows that 97% of your visitors don’t convert to consultations.

Optimizing your website for conversion is imperative. You have to lead the user where you want them to go. That means plenty of calls to action to contact you directly and putting them in the right place near killer content that engages the potential patient. You also have to deliver on your promise. Do not wait to contact anyone who does convert on your website by filling out a form. Data suggests that contacting someone within five minutes is 21 times more likely to end up in a sale than 30 minutes. Even better, implement a chat function on your website for immediate engagement.

At People + Practice, we will work with a client to develop a website that takes full advantage of all of our digital marketing services, creating a 360-degree program that begins and ends with customer engagement with your brand, quickly and efficiently – whether it’s on social media, email, or Google search results. When a potential patient finds a website built by People + Practice, they will stick around and they will convert.

Looking to learn more? Get in touch with People + Practice today!

What Type Of Orthodontic Practice Is Right For You? Read Our Latest McGill Advisory Article

The traditional fee-for-service model in orthodontics has taken a huge beating lately, due to a number of disruptions to the profession. The latest was the pandemic that left many offices struggling to meet with patients and finding it difficult to sign up new cases while lockdowns were in place.

Is a traditional practice still the safest bet, considering the number of other options available today? While there are different delivery models for orthodontics, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, at People & Practice we see many fee-for-service solo practices still thriving.

Click here to read the full article on the McGill Advisory website (log in required).

The Golden Age of Orthodontics: Already Ended or Just Beginning? Read Our Latest Journal of Clinical Orthodontics Article.

People & Practice co-founder Dr. Leon Klempner was a practicing orthodontist for more than 40 years before he retired. He saw a lot of change in those decades. He also knows that every generation thinks that the golden age of orthodontics is always at some point in the past. But, he begs to differ. Dr. Klempner thinks that the golden age of orthodontics is now!

In this article he offers up his advice on the things a modern orthodontist must do to be successful and make sure a practice thrives despite the fast pace of change in our chosen industry.

Click here to read the full story.

Watch: Marketing for Orthodontists – Interview with Dr. Leon Klempner at AAO Winter Conference 2021

During the virtual AAO Winter Conference, SmileSnap hosted an interview with our founding partner, Dr. Leon Klempner. We covered a number of topics within orthodontic marketing including:

  • How the evolution of practice marketing has accelerated over the last few years
  • The different tiers that orthodontic practices fall into nowadays and what they mean
  • The components of a website that leads users to a call to action that converts them into patients
  • What you need to drive potential patients to your website
  • The essential components of an effective marketing plan

Watch this informative 30-minute video below.

Read Our Latest Journal of Clinical Orthodontics Article – Online Reviews: More Important than Ever

People & Practice co-founders Dr. Leon Klempner & Amy Epstein, MBA were recently invited to write an article for the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics about online reviews, which we deem to be more important than ever before. At our agency, we strongly believe that online reviews are essential to successfully converting patients in your local market.

Are you ready to supercharge your ortho marketing? Click here to get started.

In this article we offer tips for encouraging positive reviews and forestalling negative ones. We also describe a touchless review capture system to coordinate a practice’s patient feedback – an important strategy in collecting reviews in a post-Covid world.

Click here to read the full story.

Note: This article can only be viewed by JCO subscribers.

Creating Orthodontic Content Marketing That Converts

At People & Practice we are all about the content but not all content is the same. Anyone who has tried to create marketing for themselves without professional help knows how hard it is to come up with good ideas and translate them into effective communications. Especially content that converts into paying patients.

A study by DemandMetric says that content marketing can cost 62% less than traditional marketing but will generate almost 3 times as many leads.

Anchor content is a marketing term for interesting, unique content that serves as a foundation for other marketing channels – like email, social, and advertising.

Our agency specializes in creating anchor content that differentiates you from your competition and creates trust in your practice. You just can’t use any old content. Your content has to shine. It has to be unique enough to peak people’s interest, compelling enough to be shareable, and informative enough to make readers click to find out more about your practice.

Stats from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 72% of marketers say digital content marketing increases engagement. Almost three-quarters of them say it has increased the number of leads.

Good content that resonates does not come out of thin air. It takes research and planning, skill to write, and know-how to distribute at the right times and over the right channels.

Orthodontists – like most small business owners – know that they need to be producing more content but are usually much too busy to research, write, edit, and promote it themselves.  That’s where People & Practice comes in. Along with online reputation management, traditional marketing services, and social media marketing, we excel at creating effective content.

When you’re ready to supercharge your marketing and covert more patients, give us a call. Contact People & Practice today by clicking here to request a free marketing analysis, call 888.866.DOCS, or email hello@pplpractice.com.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Talking With Brad Kucharo About Financial Advice For Orthodontist

In Episode 20 of our podcast, The Survival Guide for Orthodontists, we invited Brad Kucharo, a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner from John McGill & Company, to give some financial tips and advice for orthodontics. This was especially timely as orthodontists have questions about how the recent change in administration might affect them, the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and issues specifically for practices that took Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in 2020.

What orthodontists should do to prepare in case they again have to stop seeing patients in-person for any length of time

How potential tax law changes under Biden’s tax plan will impact orthodontists

Last-minute 2020 tax planning strategies and advice

See below for an edited summary of some of the topics we covered during the show. To listen to the full episode click here.

Brad presented some interesting statistics about his client practices’ performance over the last seven months after Covid. In a survey of clients he asked how busy they were before the pandemic versus after. He said that almost a third said they were back to 100% production and 84% said they were back to 80-100% versus pre-pandemic.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the future,” he told us.

We asked Brad what actions orthodontists should take in preparation for PPP loan forgiveness and the Provider Relief Funds filing.

Brad explained that businesses have 10 months from the end date of your covered period before having to pay back the PPP loan. If your covered period ended in October 2020 that pushes it out to August 2021. He recommended that orthodontists delay filing for forgiveness for a while. The new legislation has some very interesting developments as it pertains to PPP forgiveness.

A National Law Review summary of the new rules says that there will be a simplified forgiveness process for loans under $150,000:

“The Act provides for a simplified loan forgiveness process for PPP loans of up to $150,000. Specifically, applicable borrowers will be eligible for loan forgiveness if the borrower signs and submits a one page certification to the lender (a) describing the number of employees the borrower was able to retain because of the PPP loan, the estimated amount spent on eligible payroll costs and total PPP loan value and (b) attesting that it accurately provided the required certification and complied with applicable PPP requirements. The form of the above described certification is expected to be available by January 20, 2021.”

And it turns out that waiting to file for forgiveness was good advice.

The article said that if a borrower has already received a forgiveness determination from the SBA the borrower cannot refile their loan forgiveness application to take advantage of the expanded provisions governing forgivable uses of PPP loan proceeds. While some language is still unclear, the article states: “The Act provides that its provisions expanding expenses eligible for loan forgiveness will not apply to a borrower that ‘received forgiveness before the date of enactment’ of the Act.”

“We shouldn’t rush to file for the forgiveness application,” Brad recommended. “We should wait until February or March to consider filing for forgiveness. Hold off on applying for PPP forgiveness. Time is on our side.”

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST EPISODE HERE

We also asked if Brad could shed some additional light as to how he thought orthodontists should prepare in case they again have to stop seeing patients in-person for any length of time.

Brad said that in the beginning of the pandemic, we were in deep water and uncharted territory.

“We looked at what we could have done better,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot we would have changed dramatically.”

One thing he did highlight is that he recommends doctors have home equity lines of credit on the personal side.

“When pandemic hit doctors who had it slept a little better at night,” he said.

Those who didn’t get them previously, couldn’t because banks were swamped with PPP applications. He recommends doctors secure lines of credit to be available in case of emergency.

He commented on the incoming administration’s tax plan as well.

“It’s really targeting individuals who have taxable income of $400,000 or more,” he said and recommended orthodontists “Biden-proof “ their tax returns.

“Get your taxable income below $400,000,” he said.

This is an edited summary of the podcast episode. For more great financial advice for orthodontists, click here to listen to the episode and subscribe to the podcast.

About Brad Kucharo: Brad is both a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner and has been providing customized tax and business planning services exclusively for the dental profession since 2007. He has helped over 500 dentists and specialists across the country plan for financial independence, reduced stress and greater peace of mind. Brad also developed and directs John McGill & Company’s comprehensive “Planning for Retirement” service. He formerly worked at Price Waterhouse Coopers and is a  current member of the American Institute of CPA’s and the North Carolina Association of Certified public accountants.

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay