13 Steps to Kill Your Cancellations

Improve your life and your schedule with this fantastic FREE WEBINAR on how to kill your cancellations. Share this with your team!

Watch It Now!

Episode #416: Automation For Your Team To Feel More Human, with Dr. Ryan Hungate

the best practices show podcast May 06, 2022
Automation For Your Team to Feel More Human


What do your patients and team members have in common? Most likely, they are spoiled by tech and automation. Whether through Amazon, banking, or DoorDash, people automate things they don't want to do. So, why hasn't dentistry done the same? Today, Kirk Behrendt invites Dr. Ryan Hungate, former Apple employee and founder of Simplifeye, to explain why you need automation for your front desk team and how it can make their work more human. To learn more about Simplifeye and the ways it will benefit your practice, listen to Episode 416 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • Today, technology can do things better.
  • Technology and humans are complementary.
  • Automation doesn't mean removing jobs.
  • Automate tasks that your team members dislike.
  • Most patients want automation.


“We have to acknowledge that our front desk team doesn't wake up, stretch in the morning, and go, ‘Man, I can't wait to go schedule 30 patients! Man, I can't wait to go reconcile 80 transactions in electronic health records!’ That’s not what they're excited about. And I'm guessing, interestingly enough, doctors aren't excited about actually drilling the tooth. We love talking with patients. Your front desk team loves talking with patients.” (15:22—15:51)

“It’s the in-between stuff that's boring. Right? We don't want to do that stuff anyway, so what if we could take those in-between things, the scheduling of patients, the reconciling of payments, the verification of benefits, whatever it might be, and automate it? A lot of people will look at that and go, ‘Well, with automation, aren't you removing jobs?’ No — no. Hell no. We’re allowing people to be more human. We’re turning them bionic. That's the best part. We’re going to allow you to do the stuff that you want to do and love and take away the stuff that you didn't want to do anyway.” (16:11—16:43)

“We also have to realize that our front desk team is pretty overworked right now. We kind of pile on them. And what does that mean? Well, meaning that if you take phones, for example, this is for a majority of doctors out there, 12% of dentists have direct scheduling. That's it — just 12%. So, if you want an easy leg up on your competition, go all-out direct scheduling. But on top of that, because phone calls are so interruptive, your front desk also misses 30% of the phone calls. That's the best front desks, by the way.” (17:00—17:38)

“Think about the way that you want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Like, when you go see a dermatologist, are you excited to call them up and find an appointment? . . . Now, imagine that doctor, tomorrow, said, ‘You know what? I'm going to get rid of all this. And now, the only way that you can communicate with me again is via phone.’ What would you think? You would think, ‘This is upsetting.’ But you might even think something worse: ‘I'm going to find another doctor.’ Because now, you've had a taste of [automation]. And even better yet, even if a patient hasn't had a taste of how good that can be, they have somewhere else — with Uber, with Amazon, with any online retail store or experience in their life. Postmates, who’s going to bring you food at the tip of your fingers, wherever you want to, DoorDash, whatever it might be, all these things are happening.” (17:52—18:53)

“Traditionally, people have been averse to some of this technology. Why? Because, okay, I'm going to open up my schedule to have somebody else, some technology, schedule appointments for me. That's nerve-wracking because, guess what? They used to not be able to do it as well as Bobbi at the front desk. Bobbi’s better. Well, I'm happy to say that there's now technology that can do it. In fact, maybe better than Bobbi.” (19:36—20:02)

“Make sure you talk to your marketing company and get good statistics on your website. If they're not passing that data to you on a consistent basis, go find a new one. Because it’s easy for them to do.” (20:56—21:08)

“Imagine that 500 people walked into your front office, in your waiting room, looked at you in the face, looked at your staff in the face, looked at your office, and says, ‘Nah!’ and walked out. You would be pissed. Right? You would be really upset. You would say, ‘What's wrong? Did somebody poop on the carpet? What's going on here? There's a problem.’ Yet, we’re okay with somebody leaving our website without scheduling. Nobody came to your dental website by accident. Nobody was searching for ESPN, and you were result two. Right? They were looking for a dentist. They came to your website with one intention only. One. And they decided not to book, for some odd reason. Maybe they didn't get the information they wanted. Maybe they didn't trust you. Maybe they weren't ready to make a buying decision, whatever it might be. But they made that decision.” (21:37—22:26)

“We have to have something on [our website] that allows for a call to action. And it cannot be a phone number on the top right where you answer that from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, but not Wednesdays, and not the weekend. That's a real problem. And when was the last time you were ready to pick up the phone because that's a fun process? Right? It’s a lot. It’s ridiculous. I hate calling people.” (22:27—22:49)

“Anything that you apply in your practice, any type of technology purchase that you make, you should ask one really big question: does anybody in my practice have to change anything? And if the answer is yes, you have a really good chance at failing. Meaning that, right now, we have to ask ourselves, a front desk team member, if I give them something extra to do — we see it all the time with live chat, that they have to man. The front desk has to man the live chat. Wrong! ‘Oh, I'm sure they’ve got nothing else to do.’ Are you going to pay them more to do that? Are you going to add another person up front? Hell no. It’s just, you plop it on them. That's why we have to look at things like automation.” (26:31—27:13)

“We actually automate the entire front desk part that they don't want to do. So, we came at it from a couple of different angles. The first one is 24/7 live chat. This is something that you've experienced on Amazon, you've experienced with your bank, except we don't use a bot. We use a real human being, here in the U.S., all either current or ex-front desk human beings. They chat live, 24/7, and answer within seven seconds. We even speak eight different languages. It’s really cool — with the only goal to book patients in your system. And because of those integrations with those electronic health records, we can write directly back, instantaneously, and your front desk had to do nothing.” (29:47—30:29)

“The other piece that we came at was, we call it invite. And this is really cool. So, what we do is we look at the planned treatment that you have. So, you plan treatment that you haven't completed. We can then categorize it by the procedure type. We can categorize it by the amount of money it’s going to make you. And we can automatically send text and emails out to those patients to have them schedule themselves back for that treatment. It’s a golden goose. It’s basically like you saying you have a gold mine; I just brought you mining equipment for the first time.” (31:09—31:41)

“We've found that now, about 60% of your patients are going to want to actually schedule themselves and not talk to you in the first place.” (32:14—32:20)

“Imagine a Nike ad that says, ‘Buy my shoe. But you've got to call me from 9:00 to 5:00.’ That's your Instagram ad you're running right now [for your practice].” (32:40—32:46)

“When it comes to payment processing, one of the things that your front desk really does not like is the fact that they have to swipe a credit card, and then what they have to do is go over to the electronic health records and type in that transaction again. That is a pain, and also fraught with error . . . So, we make it so that it’s instantaneous and automated, which is really cool.” (33:16—33:44)

“Every single thing that you just talked about is something that your front desk has to do right now. They have to do that manually. Now, imagine that they don't. And now, they're just talking with patients, and being welcoming, and increasing relationships, and making them happier. That's the goal that we’ve come forward with where we say, ‘Let's let these front desk team members enjoy what they're doing every single day and focus on the stuff that they're really good at. We’ll take care of the nitty-gritty, in-between stuff that they don't want to do anyway.” (35:01—35:31)

“It’s amazing, what you can do, when you listen to your customers.” (39:06—39:10)


  • 0:00 Introduction.
  • 2:26 Dr. Hungate’s background.
  • 9:15 How Dr. Hungate got into dentistry.
  • 10:20 How he got into the electronic health record space.
  • 14:46 What dentists don't realize about automation.
  • 19:03 Where we’re currently at with automation.
  • 22:50 The story of how Dr. Hungate built Simplifeye.
  • 29:05 What Simplifeye does.
  • 31:42 Let patients schedule themselves.
  • 33:44 Automation allows team members to enjoy their work.
  • 35:32 Other features of Simplifeye.
  • 36:44 The future of automation.
  • 42:32 Last thoughts on automation in dentistry.
  • 43:53 How to get started with Simplifeye.

Reach Out to Dr. Hungate:

Dr. Hungate’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rjhungate

Dr. Hungate’s social media: @rjhungate


Simplifeye website: https://simplifeye.co/

Dr. Ryan Hungate Bio:

Dr. Ryan Hungate has become increasingly popular in recent times for creating new ways to implement innovative live chat technology that allows doctors to schedule more new patients and even automate bringing them back to complete their planned treatment. The practicing orthodontist used to work for Apple, Inc. designing the Apple retail workflow with industry veteran and Apple SVP, Ron Johnson.

Dr. Hungate completed his specialty training in Orthodontics at the University of Southern California after attending Indiana University Dental School for his DDS. Throughout his academic years, he aspired to create a better workflow for university clinics and, eventually, private practitioners. He pioneers new methods of orthognathic surgical planning, creating a patented and commercialized 3D surgical splint that increases surgical accuracy. Dr. Hungate also created a modern payment infrastructure to reduce retail healthcare overhead and bad debt.


Get The Best Practices Magazine FREE!

YES, it is now in print!  See the Best Practices from the very Best Practices in Dentistry, so that you and your team can create a Better Practice and a Better Life!

Send Me the Magazine!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

You will be notified when new blogs are posted when new podcasts are broadcasted, and a variety of other industry resources.

Contact Us
ACT Dental
220 E. Buffalo Street Suite #320
Milwaukee, WI 53202
[email protected]