THESE are the most pressing questions in all of orthodontics today:

  • How do we use Pokémon in our offices to attract patients?
  • Should we get a Pokestop at our office location?
  • What’s this Pokémon thing all about?

I don’t have all the answers but I can tell you that Pokémon Go is great!

After reading a ton of comments about the game on Ortho FB groups, I decided to start playing on Wednesday and it’s been educational as well as a lot of fun. The first thing I learned playing Pokémon Go is that most orthodontists have never actually played and are ignorant of how the game works – just as I was before Wednesday. The reason this is important is that it’s obvious to anyone who has played when someone who hasn’t starts talking about Pokémon Go. If you try this with patients, you’ll just look like a foolish old person who’s out of touch so don’t! And this brings me to the first bit of advice: If you want to do anything with Pokémon Go in your offices or if you’re considering it then download the game now and play. There’s no other way to understand how Pokémon Go works and you must understand the game if you want to harness the Pokémon Go phenomenon in your practice.

The next thing I can tell you for sure is that there’s very little value in having a Pokestop in your office. The reasons are simple:

  • You don’t have to physically go inside a building to visit the Pokestop
  • Most people don’t sit at a Pokestop and wait, they will travel a circuit of several Pokestop to maximize XP and item collection
  • There are a lot of Pokestops
  • Orthodontics is not an impulse buy
  • Being a Pokestop will not cause people who are not already intending to visit your office to do so other than to stop by and hit your Pokestop up for some XP and PokeBalls (and probably do so from your parking lot or even across the street)

Don’t get me wrong, if you can get a Pokestop in your office then that’s great but it’s not worth spending a bunch of time, effort or money on. Even a PokeGym would likely not serve an orthodontic office terribly well though it would be cool in some ways as long as you don’t mind people you don’t know just hanging around in your parking lot.

So if being a Pokestop doesn’t help, what good is Pokémon Go to my practice? How do I use it to drive patients and patient satisfaction? I’m glad you asked!

william and ben pokemon

From where I sit as a Level 18 Pokémon Go player (yes I’m bragging) the best way to utilize Pokémon Go is to become an authority and resource on the game and discuss it with existing and potential patients the same way you might discuss college football or MLB games and players. It’s fun and really impresses the kids who like Pokémon when you can speak their language. In a couple cases I pulled out my phone and the kids and I showed each other our favorite Pokémon. It’s another form of differentiation and we all know how valuable that can be in the modern dental landscape. You can also share tips if you’re familiar with your local Pokémon Go geography like:

  • Where you consistently find hard to catch Pokémon
  • Where there are areas that consistently have a high density of Pokémon
  • Where there is a high density of Pokestops that you can run a circuit on while using a Lucky Egg to really boost your XP while storing up plenty of PokeBalls, Great Balls and Razz Berries

But to do so you’ll have to know the difference between Incense and Lure Modules, between Pokémon Eggs and Lucky Eggs and know things like how to use an incubator, how to transfer extra Pokémon to the Professor and the difference between Evolving and Powering up your Pokémon. Once you’re an authority and an accomplished player, you’ll see the value on a daily basis and not only can you share this info in person but it’s good fodder for practice blogs and Facebook pages. You can also have contests in the office or on your Facebook page that incorporate Pokémon Go. Things like “Tell us the strangest place you’ve ever found a Pokémon” can elicit engagement and a sense of community if done correctly. The options are limited only by your imagination but you must play and understand the game before you embark on any of these ideas.

Finally, if you have kids then I can’t encourage you enough to play Pokémon Go with them. Playing together is a ton of fun and it’s great together time. You can enhance your Pokémon acumen while spending time with the family and then reap the rewards of your new found knowledge by winning the shopping war in your Ortho office and finding common ground with that non-compliant patient to help finish a tough case. Pokémon Go is a phenomenon that will be around for a while but it must be played to be understood and the game must be understood to be of any use to you. This is not an academic exercise. Gotta catch em all!!

PS Just FYI when you say things like “they caught a Pokémon in our office today!” all excited it makes it extra obvious that you’ve never played the game and don’t know the first thing about Pokémon Go. Basically it makes you look super lame. Just sayin.