How Dentally helps dentistry practices dedicate more time for patients

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dental practitioners

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average monthly text messages

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average SMS Delivery Rate

Dentistry practices invite patients into their offices for important dental care every day. To make sure each patient gets the attention they need, dentistry schedules run like clockwork. This tight schedule doesn’t always leave extra time to what matters most—patient care.

Dentally envisioned a future where dentists have more time to treat patients. The company knew it needed to build a user-friendly, intuitive portal that would empower dental practices to easily communicate with patients via voice and text.

Both large chains and small family-run practices rely on Dentally’s platform to help improve their patients’ experiences. The software smooths the customer journey and minimizes the steps it takes to complete actions like appointment booking and reminders, clinical treatments, medical history records, and billing. This keeps appointments running on time and patients wanting to come back.

Empowering patient engagement from day one

Dentally was searching for a flexible SMS solution that would allow its customers to easily communicate with patients. From day one, Dentally decided to build its text message solution with Twilio’s Programmable Messaging API.

Nick Davies, the co-founder of Dentally explained why, “We love Twilio’s developer centric perspective. It’s so easy to build upon. That’s the reason we still use Twilio today. In the 9 years we’ve used Twilio Programmable Messaging, we’ve only had to touch the code once—and that was because of a regulatory change imposed by the industry. The API has been completely rock solid, it’s such a dependable part of our application.”

Dentally sends patients timely appointment reminders and recall notices via text. “We’ve been on a journey with Twilio Programmable Messaging since we sent our first patient a message on day one. Appointment reminders are table stakes.”

With an average delivery rate of 98%, Twilio’s SMS API ensures important appointment reminders are successfully landing in patients’ message inbox.

Building upon this foundation, Dentally added automation. Appointment reminders alert patients before visits. Patients reply to confirm and inbound webhooks seamlessly update the practice account within the Dentally system.

Dentally has also enabled two-way communication. In the U.K., the average appointment no-show rate is 5%— Dentally’s two-way text reminders have reduced no-shows to 1.3%.

“Two-way conversation adds extra patient engagement, and puts the practice in a position where it doesn’t feel like a robot sent the message,” Davies explained.

Each practice’s account is assigned a local number. Twilio’s Programmable Messaging API delivers reply message practices to their inbox, enabling the staff to hold back and forth conversations with patients. The average SMS reply rate on Dentally’s platform is 10%, which is well-performing for the industry’s use case. As Dentally has grown, the Programmable Messaging has allowed dentistry practices to send and receive 1.2 million text messages a month.

To continue delivering an awesome experience to more customers, Dentally uses Messaging Insights. If an issue surfaces, Dentally consults the real-time dashboard to quickly troubleshoot. Once, when two customers reported high message failure rates, Dentally quickly pinpointed the root cause. The dental CRM then alerted customers that an individual carrier network was down and would be up and running shortly.

“The fact that we could look into the information on Messaging Insights is really quite neat,” said Davies. “With that level of granular reporting, we had a quick answer for our customers.”

Dentally SMS Interface
Dentally SMS Interface

Purpose-built for a niche industry

The Conversations API powers internal chat messaging between practice staff within the Dentally platform, which is helpful for team members to communicate at separate offices. The API also enables Dentally’s team to communicate with dentist practices without using personal devices or other apps outside the Dentally system.

“Different channels mean so much differently depending on what industry you’re in,” explained Nick Davies. Slack is great for you and I, but in a niche industry like dentistry, that’s not necessarily the case. We’ve built a really niche solution for chat with Twilio [Conversations] so dentistry staff don’t have to leave our platform.”

Dentally Chat Interface Image
Dentally Chat Interface Image

The great digital acceleration

Over the past year, COVID-19 has accelerated companies’ digital communication strategies by an average of six years. Much the same, the dental industry has progressed in leaps and bounds. “We’ve gained 5-10 years of digital progression in just 12 months,” said Davies.

With Twilio, the dental platform helped practices quickly triage after COVID-19 appointment cancellations. Patients still needed care and a way to easily reach their dentists—so Dentally knew it needed to build.

“Within just a couple of weeks, we built and deployed a system powered by Twilio [Programmable Voice] where dentistry practices could make outbound calls to patients directly with a one click dial. And that went over really well with our customers.”

Practice staff were able to remotely re-book patients after the wave of cancellations. Plus, dentists could now make outbound calls to customers from the persona of their practices, rather the dentists’ personal mobile numbers.

For the practices who formerly relied on a single phone line to make patient calls, Dentally’s addition of Twilio Programmable Voice has been nothing short of a game changer. Multiple agents can make simultaneous calls without subjecting patients to frustrating busy tones.

Dentally’s customers now place 1,000 minutes of calls a week via Dentally’s phone system.

“If Dentally had initially chosen a singular SMS provider, it would’ve been much more difficult to quickly spin up Voice like we did, explained Davies. “The benefit of working with a multichannel partner like Twilio is that it’s all under one roof. Each practice shares the same long code for Voice and SMS, which means our customers present a unified presence to their patients.”

Continuing to build

As Dentally grows to serve more dentists across the U.K. and Europe, they continue to build with Twilio’s APIs. Dentally plans to equip its other product lines with Twilio Programmable Messaging and ultimately scale to send 12-13 million SMS messages a month.

Voice will continue to be a key channel as the organization grows. Dentally is adding inbound voice calling so practices can receive calls from patients. Additionally, since 70% of patients book appointments outside of the dentist’s office, Dentally is building Interactive Voice Response (IVR), an automated flow for customers to call an automated menu to check their appointment schedules. This will not only free up time for dentistry staff, but will let patients to confirm at their convenience outside typical dentist business hours.

“We’ve had a really good journey with Twilio over the last nine years,” said Davies. “Twilio has enabled us to easily build new channels to help our customers better engage with patients.”

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