Say What… Another Change in The Schedule?
With the children going back to school, last minute vacations and so much going on in people’s lives, this is the time of year that seems to historically slow down for dentistry. Practices may find openings in their hygiene schedule and doctor’s schedule that they didn’t see in the beginning of the year.
Now is a good time to send a written form of communication to your patients and really concentrate on working the recall system.
One written form of communication that may be sent is a greeting card or letterhead from the office. This letter could have any or all of the following items in it:
When the letter or newsletter is being created by the office, make sure to have it proof read by the entire staff and ask for input. This may be done at a staff business meeting.
Another option is to have a marketing company that specializes in dentistry such as ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing, create a marketing campaign specific for your office. Whether it is a direct mailer, local business flyer, print ads, or a referral brochure they are there to help you with marketing your practice. They can be found at www.adaidm.com
I know the recall system is worked in order to fill open time as it happens, but really ask your self, is it being worked as much as it should be? This is not an occasional job that the hygienist or whoever has time works on occasion or if there is a last minute cancellation. This is the heart and soul of the practice and should be worked on a continuous basis by one person that knows the pulse of the practice and the recall system at all times. Unfortunately this is also one of the most neglected systems in dentistry.
It is recommended that the person that works the recall system be hired specifically to work the recall. We will call this job description, patient coordinator. Their duties may include telephoning patients that are overdue for any professional hygiene service or may have treatment needing done by the doctor. Depending on how big the practice is and how many hours the patient coordinator is working, will make a difference as to what the actual job description involves. However, the number one priority should be the recall system and retaining the existing patient base. With this being the number one priority and having time to perform their responsibilities, they will greatly enhance the growth of the practice.
Even when there are not any openings in the hygiene schedule, overdue patients should be contacted and appointments made for them. At the same time, in order to help increase the people on your ‘as soon as possible list’ (ASAP list), the patient coordinator and the scheduling coordinator should ask every patient if they would like to be called if an earlier appointment becomes available.
The verbiage is very important when it comes to what is being said on the telephone and should be gone over at a staff business meeting. Of course this will continuously be modified until the Patient Coordinator finds the perfect verbiage that seems to motivate patients to make their appointments.
Avoid calling the ASAP list, “the cancellation list” and informing patients that there are always cancellations and that they may be moved to a sooner appointment if the office has one. This is telling the patient that it is appropriate for them to cancel their appointment, and that a lot of your patients do it.
It is much better to say, “Mr. Jones, if we have a change in our schedule would it be all right for us to call you in order to get you in even sooner.” Effective communication and education are an essential part of a well thought out and executed patient retention system.
If the overdue patient is unable to be reached by telephone, then letters will need to be sent by the Patient Coordinator. This letter should be professionally printed on stationery and not photocopied. Letters may be found in our book, Building A Successful Recall System, in addition to telephone retention monitor, and forms that may be used in order for the Patient Coordinator to show accountability for their work efforts.
Having a Patient coordinator in your practice may be priceless even though it may sound like an additional expense for an already overloaded budget. However, once you know the best time of day to call your patients, having a Patient Coordinator come in for even a minimum of three hours a day for three days a week; with a salary of $15.00 an hour, would cost the practice $135.00 a week, not including payroll taxes. Not many recall appointments would have to be scheduled to pay for this salary.Forward this article to a friend.
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