How to Make Recall a Priority
Most dentists don’t give much thought to recall…and it’s killing their bottom line. The truth is, if you’re ignoring your recall system, you’re damaging your practice. This vital system represents the most effective way you can grow your practice revenues, and if you’re not investing in it, you’re costing yourself patients and hurting your production numbers – not exactly a recipe for a thriving dental practice.
You know it’s time to make a change if you want your practice to reach true success and profitability, but you don’t know how. Don’t worry. I can help. Follow these tips to reenergize your recall system and you’ll soon reap the benefits of increased production numbers and a healthier bottom line.
Hire a Patient Coordinator. Recall shouldn’t be something you ask your hygienist or office manager to do whenever they have time. I suggest you hire a Patient Coordinator and task this employee with revamping your recall system. If your practice is struggling, this might not seem possible – how could you possibly afford to hire someone new? But the good news is, it really isn’t as expensive as you think.
A good Patient Coordinator should be able to handle a patient base of 500 to 1,000 in about 15 hours a week at a reasonable hourly rate. And trust me, this investment is well worth the production boost you’ll get when you turn inactive patients into active patients.
Train your Patient Coordinator. Hiring someone and telling them to revamp your recall system isn’t enough. You have to train this new team member and provide the tools needed to excel in the new role. Develop a written script to be used when making daily phone calls, and make sure there is easy access to the most up-to-date patient information.
The Patient Coordinator should be held accountable for the recall system. Provide a clear job description that outlines your expectations and the role’s performance measurements. Be specific. Include how many past due patient phone calls should be made each day and how many appointments you expect to be scheduled each day.
The Patient Coordinator should also be comfortable working with your practice management software to send email and text message reminders. Many patients prefer to be contacted this way, and it is an important part of revitalizing your recall system.
Provide patient education. Uneducated patients don’t schedule recall visits. Why? They simply don’t see the value in dental care. That’s why your hygienist must take the time to educate patients during every visit. Train this person to use an intraoral camera and hand mirror to show patients what’s going on in their mouths. Provide patients with educational brochures about their condition, talk to them about the services your practice provides and have them watch educational videos.
It’s important to look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate. This will not only give patients the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their oral health care, it will also help them form a connection with your practice – both factors that will encourage them to schedule and keep those recall appointments.
Communicate with the hygienist. Before you speak with patients chairside, you have to make sure you and your hygienist are on the same page. Touch base as soon as you enter the room, and ask the hygienist what was found. Don’t tell patients everything looks OK before checking in with your hygienist. This will make them think everything is fine even if it isn’t, and will negate any education the hygienist just completed.
Instead, talk with patients about the trouble spots the hygienist identified. Remind them how important it is to monitor those trouble spots, and make it clear you’d like to reevaluate them during their next recall visit. This will show patients you care, and helps them see just how important regular visits are to maintaining their oral health.
It’s time to start taking recall seriously. If you want your practice to meet its full potential, you have to stop ignoring this vital system. Invest in it, and you’ll finally begin achieving the success you’ve dreamed of since you first opened your practice doors.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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