10.27.17 Issue #816 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter
 


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Are You Running This Critical Report?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant

Dental Case Study #255

The doctor’s concerns: “The number of new patients coming into my practice has dropped from 37 down to 23 in one month. I’m also having trouble retaining existing patients. My hygiene production numbers are really suffering. I’m ready to find a solution and get my practice back on track.”

Here’s a look at where this practice’s hygiene statistics stood:

The department averaged more than two 50-minute openings per day per hygienist.
Perio production made up only 11% of total hygiene production. That number should be 33%.
Hygiene salary as a percentage of production was 43%. That number also should be 33%.
The doctor relied on pre-appointing, with all hygiene appointments booked 3-6 months in advance.
There was no pre-blocking for new patients or for current patients who needed scaling and root planing.
The practice didn’t send out notices to remind patients of appointments or let them know they were past due for a hygiene exam.  

When this doctor came to McKenzie Management, he had never seen his Past Due Recall Report, which was part of the problem. It’s important for dentists to realize they have access to many critical reports via their dental practice management software. The Past Due Recall Report is among them, and is the one report that can make or break your hygiene department. That’s why we suggested he start referring to this report on a regular basis.

Let’s take a deeper look at the issues holding our doctor back:

Pre-Appointing
Like many practices I’ve worked with, this doctor relied on pre-appointing to keep his schedule full. Even when patients said they didn’t know if they could make an appointment in six months, the Scheduling Coordinator would insist they schedule, telling them they could always call and reschedule if needed. The problem? Many of these patients did, indeed, cancel at the last minute or just didn’t show up at all. The doctor was often left with gaping holes in the schedule that his coordinator would scramble to try and fill, usually without success. 

Pre-appointing six months out also gives the illusion the schedule is full, which leads to other issues. Let’s say a patient calls your practice and is ready to go forward with needed treatment, or wants to schedule a new patient appointment. That’s great, but there isn’t room in the schedule any time soon because it’s full of patients who made appointments six months out. That means either these patients wait a few months to see the doctor, or they find another practice that can fit them in sooner. Unfortunately, many decide to go with the second option, costing you both existing patients and potential new patients.

Statistically, about one-fourth to one-third of patients who pre-schedule will either cancel or not show up. That’s 2-4 patients per day per hygienist, which can be pretty financially damaging to a practice. Our advice to this doctor? Stop scheduling every patient that far in advance, especially if they tell you upfront they likely won’t be able to keep the appointment, or if they have a history of flaking out. Instead, call these patients a month or two before they’re due to get them on the schedule.

The 12-Month Past Due Recall Report
This dentist also wasn’t sending out past due reminder notices of any kind. Once we ran the Past Due Recall Report, he realized that 261 patients were overdue for their recall appointments. So if those patients were ever pre-appointed, which they likely were, they all missed those appointments and were never rescheduled. That works out to about 22 patients a month. Just think about how much potential treatment that represents!

To get these patients back in the chair, we suggested the dentist task a team member with calling 10 overdue patients a day, and arming him or her with a well-thought out script. Those conversations went something like this: 

“Mr. Brown, this is Megan from Hometown Dental. We noticed that we failed to make an appointment for your six-month professional cleaning and exam. The dentist was concerned about your tooth on the lower right side. Do you prefer a morning or an afternoon appointment time?”

It’s important to note Megan didn’t ask if the patient wanted to schedule. Instead, she asked when he wanted to schedule.

The Outcome
Megan soon became the practice’s Hygiene Coordinator, and was accountable for maintaining the hygiene department’s recall system. This has made a huge difference. Now there’s usually only one opening in the hygienist’s schedule every day, making for a much more productive department.

Every month, Past Due Recall Reports for one, two, six and 12 months are generated. Megan then contacts the patients on these reports with a phone call, text, email or snail mail, or a combination of these methods, to schedule their hygiene appointments. Since adding a dedicated Hygiene Coordinator, the practice’s patient retention rate has risen to 90%, which was the doctor’s goal.

If you’re not running your Past Due Recall Report every month, I suggest you make it a priority. When you reach out to patients on the report and get them on the schedule, you’ll notice a big boost to your Hygiene Department’s production numbers – and that will mean good things for your bottom line.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you implement proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com

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