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Production Numbers Down? Start Focusing on Recall
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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You do your best to help ensure your practice meets daily production goals, but lately it seems like no matter what you do, it just isn’t enough. Patients aren’t accepting treatment and in many cases they’re not even coming back for recall visits. This lackluster production has led to frustration and low team morale – and of course, concerns about the future of the practice.

If production numbers are down in your practice, it might be time to take a look at your recall system. While most dentists choose to ignore recall, this system has the most potential to increase practice production, thus increasing revenues.

Ignoring recall does nothing but hurt your practice, while investing in this important system will take your practice from struggling to thriving. Not sure how? Don’t worry. I can help guide you. Here’s how to put the focus on recall so you can grow practice production and your bottom line.

Stop Relying on Generic Recall Reminders
Cheap recall reminders with pictures of puppies or smiling families aren’t going to encourage patients to call your office and make their next appointment. They’ll likely just throw them away and promptly forget they’re past due.

To get more patients on the schedule, you need a more effective form of communication. I suggest sending out professional Educational Recall Reminders. They might cost more and take a little more time to create, but they go well beyond a generic form letter. They enable you and your team members to write personal notes to patients, reminding them of the treatment they need while also forming a deeper connection with your practice.

Of course, you don’t want to only rely on snail mail. Sending email and text message reminders are also effective ways to get patients back to your practice.

Think About Hiring a Patient Coordinator
It’s not enough to ask your hygienist or office manager to call past due patients whenever they have some downtime. This won’t get you very far. Instead, you need a team member who is dedicated to making these phone calls and getting recall patients on the schedule.

Now you’re probably thinking, Sally, how can I do that? My practice is struggling, I can’t afford to hire another employee. I understand your hesitation, but this addition isn’t as costly as you might think.

A good Patient Coordinator should be able to handle a patient base of 500 to 1,000 in about 15 hours a week. Trust me, the salary you pay this new team member will be well worth it when you’re reaping the benefits of increased production and growing revenues.

Set the Patient Coordinator up for Success
Once you hire a Patient Coordinator, you can’t just tell this person to start getting more recall patients on the schedule and expect production numbers to magically rise. You have to provide this valuable new team member with the tools, training and direction necessary to excel in the role.

Through a detailed job description, make it clear how many recall patients you expect the Patient Coordinator to contact each day and how many of those you expect to see on the schedule. Provide any necessary scripts and updated patient information so the Patient Coordinator is properly prepared for each phone call. It’s also important to train your Patient Coordinator on the practice management software so reminders can easily be sent via text and email as well.

Provide Patient Education
If you want patients to come back to your practice, spend time educating them about the value of dentistry, their condition, and the services you provide. Once they understand how important it is to maintain their oral health, they’ll be much more likely to schedule and keep their recall appointments.

Reinforce the Same Message
If your hygienist spends time educating a patient about recommended treatment, then you come in and say everything looks good, that patient isn’t going to schedule treatment. In fact, he or she might begin to question your abilities and decide it’s time to look for a new dental home.

Before talking with patients, communicate with your hygienist. Find out what was found and what education has already been provided. Then talk with patients about the trouble spots the hygienist identified. Remind them how important it is to monitor those spots, and make it clear you’d like to re-evaluate them during their next recall visit. This shows patients you care, and helps them see just how important regular visits are to maintaining their oral health.

If you’ve been ignoring recall, it’s time to make a few changes. Following these tips will help get you out of the slump, boosting production numbers and your bottom line.

Next week: 5 benefits of focusing on recall

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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