Dr. Jeffrey B. Dalin
Editor`s Note: Dr. Jeff Dalin writes the "Internet" column for Dental Economics. The information below is condensed from several of the columns.
The Internet can be used to help you with your dental practice in many different ways. Some of these ways are:
* ordering supplies
* getting MSDS sheets
* gathering information from manufacturers
* finding instructions for use of materials
* communications with patients - i.e., e-mail, treatment plans, recare announcements, confirmation messages, statements, newsletters
* continuing education
These are some of the day-to-day uses for the World Wide Web. But wouldn`t it be great to figure out some new and different ways for your computer to help you? How about creating a Web site to establish your presence in cyberspace? If you use your imagination, the Internet can be utilized in some very inventive ways in your internal-marketing efforts. In fact, you will find yourself having a lot of fun figuring out new and different ways to use the Web.
What follows is a listing of sites to visit that can be used in some very clever and imaginative ways in patient marketing. Have fun with these and others you will find while exploring the Net:
* Almanac: www.almanac.com
This is the Farmer`s Almanac online. You can find all sorts of useful information here, even if you live in the "big city."
* Word Play: www.wolinsky-web.com/word.html
Here you will find links to all sorts of sites that deal with word games, such as acronyms, homonyms, anagrams, cliches, word oddities, and many others. These sites can be a lot of fun.
* Consumerworld: www.consumerworld.org
This site contains 1,700 useful consumer resources on the Internet. Your patients surely could benefit from some of this information.
* Phone Spell: www.phonespell.org
This will take your phone number and convert it into a catchy word or phrase. What does your number spell?
* Slanguage: www.slanguage.com
Here you can choose a city and talk like the locals.
* Puzzlemaker: www.puzzlemaker.com
This site will help you create different types of puzzles. This can be used with newsletters or just to help entertain some of your younger patients.
* Blue Mountain Cards: www.bluemountain.com
This site has incredible e-mail greeting cards for just about every occasion or sentiment. Send these cards out as often as you wish.
* Virtual Insults: www.virtualinsults.com
This site sends e-mail greetings as well, but from more of a "Don Rickles" sentiment. Use these with caution.
* Temperaments: www.keirsey.com
This site allows you to test yourself, your staff, or your patients to define your temperaments according to the Briggs/Myers test.
* Virtual Florist: www.virtualflowers.com
This site allows you to send real or e-mail bouquets of flowers.
* The Free Forum: www.gsmenter.com/dailyfreebie
This site offers you and your patients all kinds of free items, ranging from software, to things for your pet, to clothing, food, health items and so many more. The size of this site truly will amaze you.
* Next to Nothing Freebies: www.winternet.com/~julie /ntn1.html
This site offers you many more free items.
* The Free Site: www.thefreesite.com
Still more free items for you and your patients
I could go on and on with more sites, but the idea is to show you how to use the Internet to have fun with your patients. Nothing is better for the development of your practice than doing nice things for these people. You continually have to try to give patients more than they expect. These are some new and inventive ways to do just that.
In our chosen field, we can no longer concentrate solely on the oral cavity and the problems we find there. We have to treat our patients` oral needs as a part of their total, physical-health picture. We need to work very closely with physicians and understand the medical problems and issues that affect our shared patients. Both of our professions are changing very quickly, and it is very difficult to keep up with all of these advances.
This is where the Internet becomes very important. A myriad of Web sites can give you useful information on any illness, physical condition, or drugs that your patients (or you and your family) may need to learn more about. There is no substitute for good, solid information when you are dealing with health issues.
The following sites can be quite useful - and in some instances - fun to use:
* Health A to Z: www.healthatoz.com
This is a "search engine" for health and medicine topics. It has extensive links to just about anything in the health field, from fitness to pharmaceuticals to veterinary medicine to mental health.
* HealthyNet: www.healthy.net
This is Health World Online. It has a large news-feature section, along with an extensive library of information.
* FitnessPartner: www.primusweb.com/fitnesspar tner
This site is dedicated to fitness topics. You can find training and fitness activities, fitness activities for children, food and nutrition advice, fitness products, and an extensive training library.
* MayoHealth: healthnet.ivi.com
This site, originating at the Mayo Clinic, contains news articles and a large reference center.
* MedicineNet: www.medicinenet.com
At this site, you will find a wealth of medical information on diseases and treatment options, as well as a pharmacy section.
* Your Health Daily: yourhealthdaily.com
You will find an abundance of knowledge on countless health topics here.
* Medscape: www.medscape.com
This is a very large medical database. You can search for any topic you desire and gather references to work with.
* National Institute of Health: www.nih.gov
This site, too, is a very large database, sponsored by the U.S. government.
* Pharminfo: pharminfo.com
At this site, you can gather information on drugs and diseases.
* RxList: www.rxlist.com
This is an Internet drug index. It is like having a drug-reference book online.
As you can see from these listings, the Internet can be an excellent source for gathering information about medical issues that we face in our day-to-day practices and in our personal lives. Once you get started using this resource, you will find yourself referring to it, instead of that library of books on the shelves of your private office.
A common use for the Internet is access to the media. Just about every media source has a presence in cyberspace. You will find that almost all of your favorite television stations and shows, radio stations, newspapers, or magazines, all have web sites up and running. Most search engines and most starting-point home pages have up-to-date news, weather, sports, and financial headlines at a glance.
Below, I will try to give you some ideas of places to visit and put to good use. You should now always be up-to-date on all of that which is going on in the world.
* CNN: www.cnn.com
Here you will find news, sports, business, politics, weather, science and nature, computing, health, books, entertainment, travel, style, views, and discussion sections. A very thorough and enjoyable place to begin.
* USA Today: www.usatoday. com
This is a Web site from the daily national newspaper. It has many subsections, including national news, world news, financial news, sports, books, careers, travel, OhotO sites, web technology, and photography. This is another very thorough and well organized site.
* Washington Post: www.washingtonpost.com
* New York Times: www.nytimes.com
These are two of the more well-known metropolitan newspapers. Most of the larger newspapers in the country have Web sites as well. Most have very good archive sections to retrieve articles and information from past issues of their publications.
* Pathfinder: www.pathfinder.com
Many of the more well-known magazines can be accessed from this site. You will find links to Time, Money, Fortune, Entertainment, Ask Dr. Weil, Parenttime, plus others.
* Scour Net: www.scour.net
This site bills itself as the OInternet Media Guide.O You will be able to locate sites dealing with business, education, film and television, news, sports, radio stations, and television stations from it.
* Weather Channel: www.weather.com
This will give you access to weather forecasts from your city, other areas of the country, as well as anywhere in the world.
* Time Cast: www.timecast.com
This site gives you access to real video stories from around the world. If you want to see something instead of reading about it, then you may want to start here.
* News of the Weird: www.nine.org/notw/notw.html
This site is a collection of bizarre news stories from more than 200 newspapers around the world.
* National Enquirer: www.nationalenquirer.com
For those with the more inquiring minds, you can find headlines from the current issue, as well as links to a section that contains an archive of old articles.
* Microsoft Home Page: home.microsoft.com
This site shows you an example of a headline home page. What this means is that you can design a page to come up whenever you log onto your browser program (Internet Explorer or Netscape). You can bring up news headlines, weather, financial information, common links, sports headlines, horoscope, etc. There are many of these type of OhomeO pages out there to sign on with.
As usual, I am only giving you some examples of sites to visit. There are countless examples of sites similar to those listed above that will give you the same type of information. The Internet can be very useful in delivering all of the news, weather, sports, financial, health, and travel knowledge you may desire. Stay up on all that is going on in our great world!
Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry Magazine and spokesperson and critical-issue-response-team chairperson for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone, (314) 567-5612; or fax: (314) 567-9047. His Web site is www.dfdasmiles.com.