Dentists want to offer great patient service, and that means being available after hours for emergencies.
But dentists understandably don’t like giving their cell phone number to their patients, and hate passing around an emergency-calls-only cell phone for after-hours duty. So, they turn to a dentist answering service to take patient calls.
Is that really the only option, though? The Loop app for dentists is one alternative that approaches after-hours patient calls in a different way.
Here’s how the two compare.
Dentist Answering Services Explained
A dentist answering service can come in different types, but they all function more or less the same by taking patient calls and recording messages for the dentist to listen to.
Answering services range from simple recording of calls to directing the calls to a receptionist-like person, who then forwards the message to the dentist.
One downside of these answering services is that they can be expensive, especially the ones that use a real person on the other end.
Another downside is that there’s a tradeoff between accessibility and control. The more accessible you are to the answering service, the less control you have over when you are notified. And the less control you have over your time, the less accessible you are to your patients.
Additionally, the amount of information that can be transmitted to the dentist through these services is often less than you need to evaluate the patient.
Finally, there’s no screening. If they call, they get to leave a message or potentially get through to you, even if it’s not really an emergency.
How the Loop App is Different
Loop functions like an answering service in that it’s a way to collect information from patients who call after hours. That’s where the similarity ends.
Loop notifies the dentist via an app whenever a patient attempts to call. The notification ensures that the dentist can reply if they want on their time.
Loop also allows for patients to attach images, which can be invaluable to a dentist who has to make a determination about if the call is an actual emergency or something that can wait until Monday.
With the app, the dentist gets to control everything about the process. It’s very convenient, too, because it can be accessed with your phone from wherever you are, at your leisure – without having to call into an answering machine or take calls from an expensive after-hours receptionist.
Loop is also more affordable than most dentist answering services, which is a nice way to save money while still being available to your patients.
Finally, you can do something with the Loop app that you can’t with a regular answering service: charge your patients for a call. Charging for after-hours calls helps ensure that only emergencies make it through, since few people are going to spend money if it’s not a pressing issue.
We may be biased, but we think the decision is clear: Loop offers a better way to handle after-hours patient care than traditional answering services today.