In multiple practice management lectures, I have heard it said that the telephone is the most important instrument in the dental practice. While that may be debatable, there is definitely no doubt that, even today, telephones are the primary mode of communication for dental practices. Your staff spends more time than you could ever imagine on the phone. Despite this, dental office telephones haven’t changed much. Maybe you are using a traditional landline; maybe you are using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. Either way, your office telephones probably do what phones do—they make and receive phone calls. Weave is a company that is trying to change that.
How Does Weave Change Dental Practice Phones?
While the company name might conjure up images of hair, Weave is a legitimate force in the dental industry. For those of you who have not heard of Weave yet, I will try my best to give you a summary of its services: Weave aims to integrate your office telephone system with your practice management software and become the communication hub of your practice in order to arm your staff with the information they need when they need it.
If you are using one of the compatible dental management software programs, Weave will link your phones with your computers, so a patient’s name and information pops up on the screen when he or she calls. Your front desk staff will be able to see any information that they might need at hand in order to maximize efficiency, including the patient’s outstanding treatment (if any), next recall date, balances, and family members’ information. In addition, Weave lets your staff send and receive texts and emails, depending on the patient’s preferred method of contact. Weave enables your staff to communicate with your patients better and more efficiently.
More than Just a Software
Weave isn’t just software, though. Weave becomes your phone provider, as well, by providing hosted VoIP phone service as part of the package. I was able to port my office numbers over from Time Warner Cable Business Class to Weave and eliminate my phone bill from Time Warner Cable. I did have to increase my Internet speed because the phone lines now run through the Internet service, but Weave provides a very nice digital phone system at no charge. For a small fee, you can upgrade to a very high-end phone system, if you desire. I am currently using the base system, and my staff loves it.
My experience with Weave has been interesting. There have certainly been some hiccups and some bumps along the way, but things are now running smoothly and stably. Initially, we had some issues with dropped calls, both inbound and outbound. We worked through the problem with Weave support and went through a few steps to try to remedy it. We tried doing another bump in Internet speed, but we still had issues. Next, Weave suggested we move to its new system, and the dropped-call bug was eliminated. Weave took care of the equipment change at no charge and got me a new system. They also sent us a new router to use. Since that was installed, call quality has been amazing, and there are no longer any dropped calls.
Weave’s support has been really amazing. They have worked with my office manager very diligently to make sure things are working as promised. I trust that they will fix the link with MacPractice soon. Once they do, I think having all of the functionalities that Weave offers will be an amazing experience because, during the time that the software link with MacPractice was working, we experienced the promise of Weave. The staff loved that all of the information they needed appeared immediately on the screen as soon as the phone rang. We were just getting into the more expanded functions, like texting and emailing, when we had to switch to the new system and lost the MacPractice link. Part of this is on me . . . As a MacPractice user, I understand that sometimes other programs don’t integrate with it as easily as they might with a more widely used program such as Dentrix or Eaglesoft. I was also considered a MacPractice beta user, meaning not all of the kinks had been ironed out yet.
The Smartphone For Your Practice
I think Weave holds a lot of promise. We use smartphones every day with our iPhones and Androids. Then, many of us get to the office and use dumb phones all day long to communicate with patients. As I see it, Weave is like a smartphone for your dental practice. While that promise hasn’t fully come to fruition for us, we got a glimpse of it, and we loved it. Since then, Weave has fully supported us, and I trust that we will be fully functional soon. I definitely think that you should investigate Weave and find out if it is right for you and your practice. It’s a solid product with a ton of upsides and room for future innovation.
Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD, describes his experiences with Weave, which integrates your phone with your practice management software and works “like a smartphone for your practice.”
Joshua Austin, DDS, FAGD, is the editorial director for Pearls for Your Practice: The Product Navigator, an e-newsletter from DentistryIQ.com and Dental Economics. He also writes the “Pearls for Your Practice” column in Dental Economics. After graduating from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School, Dr. Austin associated for several years. During October of 2009, he opened a solo general practice in a suburban area of San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Austin is involved in all levels of organized dentistry and can be reached @ [email protected]