First of all, tell us about the role you play at Sesame.
Friedman: My role at Sesame is to lead the company's
strategic direction and its ongoing transformation into a high
growth, cloud-based SaaS enterprise. Every day when I walk
through the doors at Sesame, I am gratified to see us leveraging
technology to connect the right patients with the right
practices, while educating them about optimal dental care. The
power of the solutions we offer to grow practices and dramatically
impact their profitability is what makes our efforts
If you were to meet a dentist in an elevator who didn't
know about Sesame Communications and you only
had a few floors to tell him/her about your company,
how would you explain it to him/her?
Friedman:Sesame helps dental practices like yours harness
the power of the Internet to accelerate new patient acquisition,
build patient loyalty and transform the patient experience.
Your patients live, work and play online. They use search
engines and recommendations to find your practice. They want
easy online access to care options, billing information, appointment
reminders and treatment suggestions. They want an easy
way to refer friends and share their great experiences on social
networking sites. And they want to do all of this from tablets,
smartphones and computers.
Dentistry is all about great relationships with your
patients. Sesame solutions will help your practice deliver the
same outstanding experience online that patients receive in
your office, which in turn increases practice production and
How and when did Sesame start?
Friedman: Sesame was started in 1999 by Dr. Brian
Povolny, Frith Maier and Dr. Jerome Baruffi. Our first solution
was the launch of automated appointment reminders for
orthodontic practices. From day one, Sesame has based all of
its decisions and innovations on the needs of dental and
What is Sesame's corporate philosophy and how
does your team adhere to it?
Friedman: The entire Sesame team wants practices to be
delighted with the services and outcomes we deliver. This
philosophy directs all of our strategic and operational corporate
decisions. The company creates amazing software and outstanding
services, but the true testament to our success is the
long-term relationships we sustain with our members.
There are a lot of companies in the dental market
that focus on obtaining new patients for practices.
How does Sesame effectively do this, and what does
Sesame do that no other marketing company does?
Friedman: There are plenty of organizations that provide
components of the Sesame 24-7 Patient Engagement
Management system. However, Sesame 24-7 is the only solution
today that effectively helps dental practices manage every aspect
of patient engagement. We understand the patient engagement
lifecycle in its entirety and ensure we optimize the communications
of the practice with prospective and existing patients
throughout their interactions. Accelerating new patient acquisition
is a very important part of this equation but it is only one component. We also excel at helping practices create loyal and
sustainable relationships with their patients. That is reflected in
everything from the strategic partnerships we've developed to
the range of solutions we provide. Our goal is to provide 360-
degree coverage for the practice in its community - ensuring its
brand is always consistent and visible.
In other words, we are in it for the long haul with our
members. For every practice, we develop and implement a
customized program designed to acquire and retain more
patients. We help ensure patients accept treatment recommendations,
schedule and show up for appointments, pay their
bills, and continually refer friends to the practice. We have
developed a resource library full of statistical research, useful
tips, case studies, whitepapers and more to help practices stay
abreast of new patient acquisition and patient loyalty and
Sesame is a research-based, data-driven company.
This is why we also help our members identify the ROI
on the services we offer, providing a comprehensive
analytical dashboard with metrics such as website
traffic, new patient calls, appointment confirmations,
online payments and much more. Our
research has shown practices using Dental Sesame
experience (on average) nearly 23 percent fewer
no-shows due to automated reminders. Members
utilizing three Sesame solutions received an average
of 21 self-identified new patient calls. These are just a
few examples of proven success we see our members
experiencing as result of our solutions. With thousands of
practices leveraging our technology, we are gratified to see outstanding
results in the areas of practice effectiveness, efficiency
and patient engagement.
Tell us about all of the options you can provide to
dental practices that want to increase new patient
Friedman: In the digital age, prospective patients have different
entry points to the practice. To this end Sesame provides
a full complement of offerings within Sesame 24-7 to address
those entry points. Sesame Web Design incorporates our Patient
Appeal Rated research to ensure optimal presentation of design,
content and navigation of their site, all specific to dentistry. In
addition, Sesame now offers one website that automatically
optimizes for virtually any device which obfuscates the need for a separate mobile website. The most important objective in the
development of a practice website is to make certain once a visitor
finds their website, they find the information they need to
choose their practice.
In addition to websites, Sesame has a broad range of digital
solutions created to help build new patient flow. Sesame
SEO is a solution designed to drive new patient traffic by optimizing
the ranking of the practice website and social channels
on search engine results. Our solutions go beyond other SEO
services by providing a multi-faceted strategic plan and ongoing
optimization of its execution. Of members using the SEO
service, 100 percent of them have at least one keyword ranking
on the first page of search results. Sesame Social provides this
same stellar level of service for a practice's social media channels
by managing the practice's online blog, Facebook and
other social media channels, to place the right content to drive
the right new patients to the practice. We also provide Sesame
Search Engine Marketing (pay per click) and Sesame
Sweepstakes, all of which help practices drive new-patient flow
across different entry points. Finally, one of the many core features
of Dental Sesame, our patient and practice portal, is an
easy-to-use referral mechanism for patients to refer friends and
colleagues to the practice.
Are any dentists involved in the research and development
of these marketing options?
Friedman: Absolutely! Sesame uses both dentists and
patients to create and evolve its solutions. Sesame is a
research-based organization and has done numerous studies
to better understand the evolving dental patient engagement
management needs and online preferences. New solution
releases also go through an extensive beta-testing period with
a broad set of dental practices. Sesame only launches solutions
that have been proven to drive the right ROI and practice
results. Innovation is ineffective if it does not drive
practice growth and profitability. Finally, we leverage patientbased
research to help us create impactful solutions for the
dental practice. We believe that the needs and demands of
patient engagement management within dentistry differ from
many other small businesses and industries. Our solutions are
designed and developed based on those unique requirements
What does Sesame do to help transform the patient
experience at any given practice, and to, in turn,
Friedman: Building patient loyalty is vital to ensure the
long-term profitability of a practice.
We help make the experience of being a dental patient in a
practice as easy as possible. With Sesame, practices can connect
with patients on a deeper level while respecting the demands for
time and attention their patients already juggle.
By building patient loyalty and transforming the patient
experience, Dental Sesame helps practices build a devoted - and
profitable - patient community.
What kind of customer service can dental practices
expect when they work with Sesame?
Friedman: Sesame is committed to an educational-based
consultative sales process. An educated practice makes the best
choices in services and is best able to leverage those to grow the
practice. We certainly understand each and every practice is
unique, and presents distinct challenges and opportunities for
growth. We begin every new member interaction by listening to
his/her unique practice characteristics and goals. It is imperative
that we understand what the practice is trying to achieve -
before we present them with a solution. There is no silver bullet
in patient engagement - no one-size-fits-all solution. We understand
this and try to customize solutions and delivery to the
practice's specific profile and needs.
All Sesame practices have a dedicated account manager
assigned to them. Where applicable, Sesame also provides quarterly
performance reviews and strategic planning sessions with
service area specialists to ensure their practices' ongoing success.
Tell us about the corporate culture at
Friedman: The Sesame culture is vibrant,
innovative and committed to long-term member
success. We are located in downtown Seattle so
the entrepreneurial spirit abounds within the
company. The entire team is committed to helping
others through our service to the community
and members. Being in such an incredible hub
of technological innovation allows us to benefit
from the great talent this city offers.
What does Sesame do to stay competitive
and ahead in the dental profession?
How do you obtain feedback from your clients and
what do you do with that information? What interactions
do you have with dentists on a daily basis?
Friedman: In order to ensure we meet the ever-evolving
requirements of dentistry, we take the time to constantly understand
the nuances of the patient engagement lifecycle from the
practice perspective. This is done through a variety of communication
channels including phone conversations, practice visits,
surveys, research and more. Each of these communication channels
is used to better understand their challenges and needs so
we can design and develop solutions to solve real-world problems
and drive measurable results.
How has Dentaltown impacted Sesame?
Friedman: Dentaltown provides a tremendous service to its
readers. It is an educational resource for the dental profession,
and is unique in maintaining an open channel for two-way communications
among peers and industry leaders in the dental
space. Dentaltown is a venue that has allowed Sesame to share
its research and learning for the betterment of the industry.
Dentaltown's ability to aggregate and share content across an
expansive list of authors has had a positive impact on both
Sesame and the entire dental profession.
Lastly, as a CEO of a technology company, I am proud that
we have not lost sight of the fact that our business is not about
software and code, it is about relationships and people. That
understanding is what will continue to sustain our success
Why should a dental practice work with Sesame
Friedman: Sesame has a proven track record of success with
practices and a long history of innovation and support specifically
within the dental industry. We understand the unique
needs of dentistry and invest heavily in ongoing research to both
educate the dental community and shape the value of our solutions
to drive the optimal ROI for our members. Sesame is the
only company a dental practice can use to address every area of
patient engagement management. This continuity ensures dental
practices maintain a consistent digital brand, reduce the
administration of dealing with multiple companies and have a
cohesive way of measuring tangible ROI across all digital patient
engagement mediums. If a dental practice wants to leverage the
Internet to build sustained growth and profitability, then
Sesame will be its solution of choice.
What does Sesame have up its sleeves in the next year
that you might be willing to share with our readers?
Friedman: We have a few new things coming out in the
next three to six months that will be of great interest to your
readers. While I can't go into specifics just yet, I can assure
you they will all be tailored for the dental industry and focus
specifically on new patient acquisition and increased patient
loyalty - these new solutions and services will generate high
production volumes and further ensure long-term practice
profitability. Let me leave you with a hint - it will make your
practice completely mobile. Stay tuned for more in the coming
months and visit our exhibit booth at ADA annual session
in New Orleans.