Forms and More Forms
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management
As part of the on-site consulting program, it is important that the printed forms, stationery, recall cards, business cards, thank you cards, etc. are reviewed for any necessary changes and/or recommendations.
It is not uncommon for me to ask to see the recall cards that are sent out, only to find a photo of Garfield brushing his teeth on the front! What is even more surprising is that the doctor has no idea that he is promoting Garfield.
Now, I think that Garfield is “cute” but I don’t think that Garfield is professional. Ask any hygienist how she feels about her profession being promoted by Garfield, compared to a professional recall notice with the practice and appointment information. It fits into a professionally printed envelope with the return address and logo on it, compared to being printed on a flimsy postcard with computer-generated information, which no human hands have touched other than to rip the 2x2 cards apart and run them through the postage machine.
Logo & Thank You Cards
If your practice doesn’t already have one… it should. What? A logo! An image that “speaks” to your patients and reflects you as a practice. Think about the Nike “swoosh.” Everyone recognizes it. Branding your practice is important in today’s world. All of the practice material that has your name on it should also have your logo. Create nice, tent-folded blank cards with your logo on the front. Since these are blank on the inside, they can be used for sending a nice handwritten note to a new patient, a note of appreciation to the patient that referred the new patient, a birthday wish, etc. You are marketing your practice at the same time, instead of marketing Hallmark!
Business or Appointment Cards
As mentioned above, these cards should have your logo printed, as well as a print font that is easily read and large enough for those of us that don’t see as well as we once did. Make it easy for your patient to dial the office phone number. Think about how aggravating it is to visit a nice restaurant when you can’t read the menu. Avoid putting your patients through that.
New Patient Information Form
This is another area where a “cute” form was ordered from the catalog because the colors were pretty and matched the décor of the reception room. Again, keep in mind that not everyone can see as well as you, so make the form easy to read, the font large enough to see and only ask questions that you really want to know the answers to. Be creative and make your own form to accomplish this. Print it on a light colored paper and don’t forget to include your logo on it!
It is important to include details on the form such as the release of information to the insurance company and the assignment of benefits (if applicable). If you take patient photos and wish to use them for marketing or training, include a release that allows you to do so. Inform the patient of any NSF fees that you will charge them should your bank charge you, as well as interest, service charges, collections fees, etc. that may be applicable to your practice. (State regulations vary so check with your state to see what you are allowed to charge the patient with their acknowledgement.)
Unless your patients always pay in full, you will want a simple, easy to read financial agreement that indicates the following:
- Type of treatment
- Dollar amount of treatment
- List of payment options (in full with 5% bookkeeping courtesy, “guestimated” patient portion, 3 equal monthly payments with a credit card, CareCredit, etc. The patient/responsible party indicates their preferred method of payment.)
- Signature of patient/responsible party and date signed
Remember to include the practice logo on this form, too.
Consent and/or Post Op Forms
Why don’t you take a look at yours? Are they outdated? Does it look professional and include your logo? Remember that this is a marketing tool for your practice.
If your practice does not have a website, your practice is not “current” with the technological times. Your website address should be on every piece of paper that your practice name is on. Patients should be encouraged to visit the website to learn more about the services you provide, find a map to the office, download forms so they don’t have to fill them out in the office, see “before and after” photos, read about you and/or your team, view photos of your beautiful reception area or the street view of your building, etc. A website makes you credible in today’s market.
Take the time to view your forms, recall cards and other handouts that you give to your patients. Make sure that it represents you and your practice in a professional manner. If you have a form that was copied off-center on the copy machine and the master is a copy of a copy of a copy, create a new master that is clean and legible. Get a logo if you don’t already have one. Let it speak for you!
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