Justin: Welcome to the Dental Marketing Guy Show. I’m Justin, the dental marketing guy and today it is an honor and a privilege to interview a very important business founder in your practice. You’re gonna wanna hear what Keith English has to say because we’re talking about a software that helps you book new patients online. Has gonna learned all about the nuts and bolts of it. I’m just going to let him explain that to you, but first of all, how are you, Keith?
Keith: I’m doing well. Just trying to keep the train moving forward.
Justin: There you go, there you go. Well, right on. Maybe you can tell us a little bit of your history and how you got into dentistry and how that gave birth to localmed.com.
Keith: So prior to this business I had absolutely no experience with the dentist other than as a patient. I had no background in it. I knew very little about it and with this particular project we had, the kind of, the three or four of us just sat around, originally not to discuss what we want to do operationally. We kind of kicked around a bunch of different things from the standpoint of addressing the court need of the ability to have greater access to scheduling for kind of a very broad medical spectrum. As we began to spend more time talking about it, I realized that there were some pretty significant challenges associated with addressing the market across all the different specialties at one time. So we really began to focus down on what we could handle first and we did a lot of research and came across the fact that for the number of appointments booked on a yearly (inaudible 1:59) dental was one that touched the largest number of individuals and the reason we kind of focused on scheduling to start with was it just seems logical that with the way technology has progressed over the past few years that it just didn’t make sense to have to call the offices anymore. That just seemed very arcane based on all the things that we could do online, and we want to spend our time and that’s kind of how we came to the realization that this is something that wasn’t being addressed very well and we thought that with this kind of our skill set amongst the folks we have involved. It was something that we can really dive into and make an impact on. We were unaware, however, to start with, of all the ins and outs and everything else. So we had a pretty steep learning curve related to actually office related activities and scheduling and so we sat in the office, there’s a local office here and they gave us, kind of, good access to bug them to death in understanding how things worked and why they work the way that they did and then we spent about 18 months, kind of in the dark if you will, writing before we actually released it out to any clients to kind of test it out.
Justin: Excellent, excellent. So tell me a little bit about how our listeners are able to take advantage of local med. Does it go into the practice management software? How does, I’m sure there’s a thousand questions dentists are wondering how do I, actually, what’s the first step and how does it work as I integrate local med into my website?
Keith: Sure, so at its core what we’re doing is effectively sitting side by side with the practice management system, then changes in the schedule so that we can accurately depict the openings with the same level of accuracy and filtering that is available by speaking with somebody at the local office. So, you know, one of the things that we deal with a lot and one of the fears of the local offices about utilizing online scheduling is that they have this concept of complexity surrounding their schedule and what the fear that patients are just scheduling kind of willy-nilly into their appointment book. But that’s why I also took this 18 months to write and while we’re constantly updating everything is that we actually use all of the same rules that are inherent in the actual practice management system. So they were accurately depicted what that schedule looks like. As an example, if you only see new patients in your hygiene chairs from eight to four on Tuesdays and Fridays that’s all we’re going to show as well if there’s an opening there. We’re not just allowing patients to pick what they want when they want it and schedule root canals for 7 minutes on Friday at 4:30 in the afternoon. It really uses all of those inherent rules in the logic that you use to schedule otherwise that’s all part of the setup process and how we generate that. So they were actually detecting what is available there. So what it takes to make that happen is a very high volume of information from the office so that we can have all of that in a real time fashion. And to do that, we spent a lot of time understanding how to interact with those systems in such a way that we don’t put a resource constraint on those systems. I’m sure that anybody that’s dealt with some of these systems that are very large, withdrawing large bar, pieces of information has seen resources rain that can happen at the local level of people are withdrawing a lot of information so we’re very cognizant of that and that’s what we spent all this time really working on.
Justin: Ok, so the dentist is in full control? The practice management software, they tell you the parameters like “Okay, we see new patients in the morning at 9am-10am. We see new patients from 1pm to 2pm and don’t schedule anyone who’s an existing patient during that time slot” and obviously don’t double book and all that. Is that, kind of, how it works?
Keith: So there are, there is a set of rules that is inside each PMS. So it tells us how long an appointment is supposed to last, which appointment types go into which chairs, and we read all of that stuff out that is available inside the systems. But there’s also a second level of information which we call native knowledge which is what the scheduling coordinator is holding either he’s (inaudible 7:16) in front their heads or are the things that make them have the ability to do the job that they are supposed to do and that’s what you just described a moment ago and we take all of those in as part of our setup process so that we are only showing the times that are specific for new patients or returning patients or hygiene or product appointments or those things that are necessary so that we’re not screwing up the schedule of the dentist. To us that’s kind of the worst case scenario, when you look side by side at your appointment book and what’s available online. Those should mirror each other, should not see something online and is not the same appointment you would tell the person on the telephone is available or whatever type of appointment that they’re coming in for. And that ultimately what our definition for us of success is, is the ability to display and schedule those things in an accurate fashion. We realized that nobody would utilize our service and it really wouldn’t be any good if we were showing openings at 4 o’clock that weren’t actually there. That would be bad for the office, it would also be bad for the patient because we’re giving them something at that point then that is not accurate and that, for us, is failure. And so what you just described is exactly right, it’s our job to take all of those scheduling rules that the dentist in the office is already set up, translate those into our system so that we’re showing is the exact thing that the dentist wants to show. Another important part of that is, in our system an office or a dentist does not have to show appointment types online if they don’t want scheduled online. So as an example, let’s say that a dentist doesn’t want crowns to be available online. They just simply don’t offer that as an opinion online, and if that person needs to schedule the crown they need to call the office to do that. So that kind of flexibility that’s built into the system keeps the dentist and the office in full control of their schedules so that we’re not doing anything that they are not wanting to be done online.
Justin: Right, okay so basically how does that work? If I’m a patient on a dental website and I want to schedule a crown, you, the dentist told you no crown schedule online. Does something pop up or how does it, does it say please call to schedule a crown. How does that work?
Keith: So it just isn’t an option online so they’re forced to call the office at that point. So we, literally, just beyond the drop down box of what are you trying to schedule today? It just simply isn’t an option and then the number is there for the patient to call if they don’t see the option that they want. In some cases, what they will have is we put the drop down in there, but “no availabilities” so that it shows that the person must call. I mean all of that stuff is flexible within our system to make sure that the office can customize it to the way that they see fit.
Justin: Right, right. Okay and then, of course, there isn’t, what was that?
Keith: I said it’s very important, what you brought up is the office is in full control of all of this. We gotta put in all of this instability so, because we realized that office A doesn’t operate like office B and sometimes within the same organization, different offices operate in different ways, they may have different scheduling philosophies and we want to make sure that each office has the opportunity to schedule in the way that they see fit.
Justin: Excellent, excellent. Ok, so let’s talk about the investment to get this started. First, let’s talk about time. How much time, dentists listen to this, I’m wondering Suzie Que is at the front desk, I’m busy at the chair. How much time are we gonna have to dedicate to get this local med set up?
Keith: So if it’s a single provider in a single office, you’re about 20 minutes, 25 minutes. For each additional provider you need to add about 10 minutes and the vast majority of that is what we just discussed a moment ago, is getting those scheduling rules of we don’t want new patients after 1 o’clock on Friday or whatever those may be. The actual software takes about a minute and a half, the rest of it is simply getting those filters and then the last step of that process is the training and you can schedule that separate, from the install or at the same time and the training is basically more about how to make adjustments within the system if needed. How to look at the reporting so that you can see a full reporting from where things are coming from within the system and then also to obviously answer any questions, things of that nature. With the last step in that is looking at the schedule side by side and making sure that what you want exposed and what you want to see online is exactly what you do see online.
Justin: Excellent, excellent so you know for the next generation of, you know, we have a lot of guests. We talk about Yellow Pages and, you know, Yellow Pages is still relevant to a certain market, I mean, maybe in Florida, you’re over 80, you’re looking for all in 4. That could still work, what kind of generation, I’m throwing all these questions at you, totally unscripted here, 100%. What kind of generation or what kind of demographic tends to respond most favorably to local med?
Keith: So, one of the fields we have is the birth date that we ask for. But I can tell you it’s spans the gamut, we have, I mean the only thing that really skews rely heavily on our side is that we have quite a few more women that schedule than men. And that’s because you have, and that not just dental, that is medical in general. If you look at those stats, it’s traditionally the woman of the household that is more active and scheduling for families and things of that nature. Again, that’s not dental, that’s across the medical spectrum and hold true on our platform as well as we have a lot of families booking for children. Pediatricians are very active, our pediatric dentists are very active on our platform. But we have, we do require that somebody has to be 18 so even though you’re allowed to schedule for somebody that’s under 18, it does require somebody that’s 18 to actually affect that schedule. But you know I don’t know the oldest at the top of my head but I can tell you that it spreads from 18 to 80 and everything in between. We have, I can run specific numbers and see that, but I would, I don’t know that it’s very heavily weighted in one way or another. Obviously it start to peter off as you get over about 65. Below that we see a wide, wide range.
Justin: Okay, yeah, and you know what that makes sense because everyone is moving online, everyone is, you know, people still use the phone. They use the phone especially in dental but I think what’s happening is everyone, like you said, is moving online and they’re moving towards this “I don’t have to meet with you face to face.”, “I don’t have to call you, I just schedules something online” and you know you’re seeing that in all industries. I mean like the way we use amazon.com, you know, you’re buying something, you don’t have to talk to a cashier, you don’t have to hand cash it- it’s just boom “I want this product” boom and then it gets to you the only one you might see is the mailman. So yeah, I mean I think this is the way the world is moving is, you know, yeah people do want that personal touch, they you want a dentist that they can trust and a front desk who’s polite and all these things. But as far as scheduling, I mean that’s just kind of a task that people have, right. So when you make it efficient, when you make it, you know, flow real easy that makes sense, so I definitely, I’m always preaching so dentists. I always say don’t project on the marketplace, don’t say “Well, I would use live chat”, “I wouldn’t use local med” and “I wouldn’t schedule your dental appointment online.” Well what would your patients do and sometimes you gotta test that, right? And so what’s the response been as far as, you know, I don’t know if you can provide any status as far as a dental website. The average number of appointments booked per month or just the percentage of traffic, I mean, I’m just wondering if there’s any kind of barometer we could give the listeners as far as how many, what percentage of people are actually scheduling appointments online?
Keith: Sure, well one other piece that’s very important to what you just mentioned, not inclusive of all the things you mentioned about people moving online. The other big piece of that is 38% of the appointments that are scheduled on our platform are done outside of normal business hour for dental offices.
Justin: That’s huge.
Keith: It is.
Justin: It’s because no one’s answering the phone during those hours.
Keith: Exactly, right. I mean there’s a lot of offices that we deal with that one of their key concerns is answering the phone during business hours much less after business hours and then you got weekends and you’ve got things that nature, I mean, if you think about it particularly those with young families or those working a 9 to 5 job or whatever else the most convenient times for them to deal with these things are when the office is closed. I’ll take my son as an example, he goes down 8 o’clock. That’s the first time myself and my wife get an opportunity to consider things like that, you know. It ended the rest of it, just kind of gets lost in today so this really gives an opportunity to do that. The other thing that s important there is the fact that the, by displaying all of the openings, patients are able to find the things that best fit within their schedule, you know. It’s one of the analogies I used in, I don’t know if you're old enough to remember this or not but it used to be when I was growing up, if I wanted to go to the movie theater, I had to call and listen to the list of movies at that movie theater and the times that things are being shown and then if the movie wasn’t there and I called somewhere else in and it was just, or if the movie was sold out (inaudible 18:05) bad time had to start all over again and it's effectively what’s happening right now when you call the dental office, is you get a list of things and then you “What was that on Tuesday and Thursday at 3, I don’t have that” and it turns into more of a negotiation and, you know, the ability to show all openings at one time lets the patient then say “Okay, the best time that fits my schedule is Tuesday at 2 o’clock.” I can do that and it lets them make that decision which leads to higher rates of show up and things of that nature. So some other stats and a really interesting one that you mentioned about not projecting on others about utilizing things that you personally would use as opposed to what your populace would use. We surveyed the folks that utilize our platform and one of the things that we asked this, over the past 2 months is we asked very clear and plain question of would you have scheduled at this office if online scheduling was not available. Just a point-blank, yes or no, nothing else. I really, you know, obviously for us the higher the number the better. But I didn’t know what to expect and I was a little bit of, the new patient would’ve made more sense to me. So it was an almost 31% of new patients and they would not have scheduled at that office had online schedule not been available. That one I didn’t know what to expect, but that was within range of what I thought it might be. The really shocking one, to me, was almost 19% of the returning patients said they would not have scheduled at that office if online scheduling was not available.
Keith: That one kind of caught me off guard. I figured they would, you know, there’d be a number, I didn't know what it would be but 19, call it around 20% of your patients would not have rescheduled with your office, that’s a significant chunk of patients that are looking for the ability to do things in an easier fashion. That’s not just new patients, that’s the existing patient numbers. So to us, that’s even more encouraging than we thought because that means that not only are we giving new patients access to this and existing patients easier. We’re actually this is encouraging people to go see the dentist. This is, by making it easier for them to do this it’s actually contributing to them going to the dentist more often.
Justin: Right, you know, that’s what I love about these services. Everything that we do, the guests I have on the show, you know, Fred Joyal was on the show and he was talking about, you know, 1800Dentist causes people to go to their dentist more than calling 1800Dentist. If you know those commercials, seriously its time and be more like “Oh yeah it is time and I already have a dentist so I’m not gonna call you but it is so I’m going to call my dentist.” But this is really huge, you know, that’s very interesting and, you know, people avoid the dentist and I think that there’s kind of this, you know, one of the most popular phobias is the of fear of the dentist and I think that’s very real. But I think that there’s a lot of innovation left in dentistry and I think that a lot of dentists are saying “Well, it’s the phobia, it’s the phobia that’s why people don't come to us.” That’s why whatever percentage I think it’s a very large force. I think it’s over 30% of people don’t have to go to the dentist regularly and they just love the chalk it up to some external factor but wouldn’t it be nice if our viewers could take personal responsibility and say “Look if car dealerships are doing it. If amazon is doing it, having these innovation companies are making it easy to schedule, why aren’t we doing it?” There’s probably a variety of answers to that question but that’s not really huge.
Keith: It’s, you know, I understand some of the fear because (inaudible 22:19) itself just hearing online schedule, it sounds scary than it turns out to be. Once you spend 5 minutes learning about it, you know, and it’s one of the things, we have a very good rate of getting folks onto our service. Once they give us a few minutes to understand that’s it’s not just a wide open, put yourself where you want to go and we’re gonna book other people on top of other things and there’s no intelligence wrapped around it and once they grasp that “Ok, I get to set the rules exactly the way that I wanted to be” they’re not gonna double booked. The patients not putting in our appointment a 10 minutes slot, you know, it’s only an accurate aspect. Once that’s grasp, then we really have a very good and very loyal base of customers once they get to that point. You know, it just takes some time to get folks to recognize that it’s not scaring. They just need to understand, just like everything else. I’m sure the first person that saw a car thought that was the most complicated thing on the face of the planet and then they got in and pressed one button and pressed one pedal and steer a little and it went where they wanted it to go. It’s kind of the same thing, once all those things, once you kinda remove that initial fear and learn a little bit about it then it doesn’t become nearly as scary. But, you know, those just some of the hurdle and, you know, we’re working through those since we, excuse me, our providers and we work through those things, it’s just part of the process.
Justin: Yeah, okay, so I know a lot of dentists. My job is to try and put myself in their shoes and say, you know, what kind of sales objectives or what kind of questions they have in their mind. I’m thinking I’m a dentist, I’ve been a dentist for 20 years, I’m thinking you know what I’m not sure these people show up. What is, compared to the thought, what, you know, on the phone even with things like, you know, solution, reaching Lighthouse, and all these recall systems- YAPI. You know even with those things people sometimes don’t show up. What’s the rate of people actually showing up because it does feel a little bit easy, almost not quite anonymous but kinda easy, kinda efficient to go in there and click click okay bam I have an appointment. So what do you do to ensure they show up and what kind of rates do they actually show up?
Keith: So in the scheduling process we require the patient to verify one form of communication with them so when they schedule they have to give us their email address and their mobile phone number. We send them a verification email that they have to click on or respond to a verification text before we will actually schedule that appointment back into the practice management system. So there’s nobody that can put Mickey Mouse in and onetwothree@AOL and they’ve got an appointment. They’ve got to verify that we have an accurate way of contacting them. So that’s the first step of those kind of weeding out the job. Now interestingly about 98 and a half percent verify. And one and a half percent month-over-month do not verify and those are never scheduled with the practice. Okay, so that’s the first way we kind of (inaudible 25:57). The second is it pretty much mirrors what the practice itself has an overall rate of show up. So if you’re an active practice and you send out welcome packets to new patients and you know, you have one of the systems you mentioned like a Lighthouse or a Yappy or whatever. It’s doing those reminders because it’s not a service that we do right now, if you’ve got those things it will effectively mirror what you see there, if you’re very passive and you don’t have a reminder system and you don’t send out new packets and you don’t try and contact them then you’re going to have, your rates are going to be last and somebody that is more active in doing those things in a normal flow. One important thing in this is once a patient schedules online they’re simply just a patient like any other. There not separated, they’re not segmented from everything else, they are treated exactly as if they scheduled in any other way, shape, or form. So they go into the same system that you’ve got in place otherwise. One other thing on that, via failed to mention earlier that leads into this though is over 60% of the appointments booked on our platform are within the next 72 hours.
Justin: Oh okay.
Keith: So these are actively looking right then and there. Whether it be an emergency appointment which is a percentage or it's somebody that’s just decided “I need to go to the dentist, I need a new dentist” they’ve moved, whatever else it is but of those patients with 60% being in the next 72 hours, these people have decided they’re going. This isn’t something that’s scheduled six months in advance in most cases. So it’s the customer profile tends to be those that have already resigned themselves to going and therefore these show-up rates are generally like I said they’re going to mirror whatever you see otherwise.
Justin: That’s excellent, that’s excellent. So I’m sure it’s in real time, right. So, now here’s a question, you know, Suzie Que, she’s at the front desk, she’s booking someone, she’s putting someone in the PMS and then someone else is concurrently on LocalMed trying to book an appointment. What happens then if it’s like, I mean, one in a million chances but what happens if it’s at the same time?
Keith: So if the person at the office schedules first and they fill that slot with Susie Smith or whoever is scheduling at that. Our person would get a message that says “We apologize, that appointment is no longer available. Here are some other options” and push them back into the scheduling flow again, it’s not going to double book, it’s not gonna put it in a different column, it’s not going to do any of that. It’s simply informing the patient “Hey, sorry, somebody got to that first, you know, here’s some other options for Dr. X and push them back through that so that they can select another time. That happens right, last month I was just looking at those stats the other day, last month that happened about .8% of the time so it does happen but we have built the entire workflow to make sure that the patient has options. That we’re not putting things in the wrong place in the schedule and that we then reappoint that patient to get them back onto the books in another time that’s not full.
Justin: Ok, yeah, that makes sense. So how about, how fast does the front desk know that a slot has been filled on local net?
Keith: So within 30 seconds it has come out of our system into the PMS.
Keith: And conversely if something is booked at the local level we’ll know within about 30 seconds as well so that we can update on our side to display it properly to those that are looking at the schedule online.
Justin: Okay, okay and you’ve got a good problem if you have people scheduling every 20 seconds.
Keith: I’m sorry you cut out there real quick.
Justin: oh I was saying if you’re a dentist you’ve got a really good problem on your hands if people are scheduling every 20 seconds.
Keith: Oh absolutely, absolutely and you know we look at them, when we see the logs of all the movement, you know, that takes into account people moving appointments from one place to the other and takes into account cancellations from another day that didn’t get moved into another day. I mean it doesn’t have to be something new to schedule. It’s just anything that covers that up, the other thing that happens on our side is it, let’s say as an example, an appointment’s supposed to be for 60 minutes. Let’s say it’s a new patient appointment, in that office has 4 units if they take for that, a lot of times it’s not the entire 60 minutes is taken but only may be the first or last 10 minutes as it bleed over from something else and it will effectively shut that space out for us. But it disappears because we now can’t fit a 60 minute appointment into a 50 minute slot. And again, we’re taking those things all into account in a big part of what we had to spend a lot of time doing was figuring out how to do that without putting an unnecessary resource constraint meant on the system. If you take, if you pull that system constantly to pull all of that information, you’ll shut it down and make it unusable at the office level or slow it down so much that they can’t do it so we really had to work very hard to design our system in such a way to get all of that information out but to do it in such a way that we’re not affecting their system performance at the local level.
Justin: Gotcha, okay now, I mean this must be an easy sell to the front desk, I mean, let’s talk about how much easier the front desk job is as a result of using LocalMed.
Keith: In some cases, yes and other they, some scheduling coordinators don’t believe that we do what we say we can do. You know, they’ll be convinced that we’re gonna do something that, you know, we say we’re not going to do or whatever else and then generally how we handle that is we simply, we give them one of our life clients and say “knock Yousef out, book your own appointment and this other office, call that office and see if your appointments in their schedule book exactly where you want, see if there’s a problem with it at that office. Call one of your peers at one of these other offices that you’ve scheduled with and see” you know our clients are our best representatives and then we simply just ask him to cancel the appointment so that it’s not within the other offices PMS but generally when we can get to that part, when you start asking questions and they want to see how it works, then you’re right, we do have a very good success rate in getting those folks to learn more about the system and believe in what we’re doing.
Justin: Excellent, excellent. You know we didn’t talk about any kind of like special offer, anything like that so I’m not going to put you on the spot but let’s talk about the cost of implementation and is it an ongoing thing or how much does it cost?
Keith: Sure, so as with most things it’s the known, depending on the number of providers. We are provider-based so you know some of the smaller offices don’t get zapped for the same amount that some of the Law Offices do which I know is something that happens in a lot of these. Our service starts at $79 a month for a single provider and then we have a one-time installation fee of $99 to get that started. So it’s, you know, if you’re looking at it effectively less than a good dinner to be able to provide this to your folks on a monthly basis and, you know, I know that it gets pitched around a lot but, you know, we are, our services is built such that we can each a large number of providers and patients are not, I didn’t build this company to make a ton of money off of just a few folks or any of that sort of stuff. We want a large ecosystem of users that makes it more robust. That means we have more people feeding us really good ideas about the next things that we can do. And that’s our goal is to really get a lot of folks on the system, a lot more patients obviously using on a daily basis, and that’s where we really start to see the excitement inside of our office is when we bring on and we have new records that we, you know, we set new records every single one for the last 8 months for the number of providers on the system, the number of patients utilizing the system. So those are the types of things that we’re really aiming for and why we’ve priced it at, you know, a very low number so that we can attract the largest number as possible.
Justin: Excellent. Alright well it sounds good, you said, what was it? 19% of current patients answer that they would not have rescheduled without online scheduling?
Keith: That’s the number that we have from our, we’ve been doing it for about 65 days on the polling. We’ve got about 1,100 responds, I think, I’ll have to go back and look at the exact number response but it's somewhere in that so it’s not, you know, it’s not an insignificant number that has indicated that “Hey, I wouldn’t have even scheduled at all.”
Justin: That’s amazing, well hey 19% of recall, that’s worth a lot more than $79 per month. So wow, that’s excellent.
Justin: Yeah, thank you for coming on, Keith. This is great information, maybe you can just tell the users where to find your website and any other way they can contact you.
Keith: Sure, so we can be reached at www.localmed.com or anybody that’s looking for further information can shoot us a message at email@example.com or give us a call at 800-90-3054 and thank you for having me on here today and looking forward to answering other questions anyone has.
Justin: Excellent, excellent. Can you say that number one more time? I think it cut out there.
Keith: I’m sorry, cut out on me?
Justin: Yeah. I think it cut out when you were saying the number.
Keith: Oh, it's 800-590-3054.
Justin: Cool and that localmed.com, so guys check this out if, you know, it sounds like it’s a lot of, I know a lot of our viewers probably don’t want to be early adopters but it sounds like you’re already working with a lot of dental offices who are really happy. So it sounds like there’s a pretty low attrition rate for this. Yeah, thanks, thanks so much, Keith. And guys if you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments below wherever you see this, on YouTube, Dental Town, The Dental Marketing Guy Blog, and The Dental Marketing Guy Show. Just let us know what you think and I may not have covered all the questions, but I’m sure there got some FAQs and they know what you’re pain points are. It sounds like 18 months of research and development and then, of course, ongoing, always fixing the kinks. So thanks again, Keith.
Keith: Absolutely, thank you.
Justin: Alright and thank you for watching the Dental Marketing Guy Show.
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