Practice Struggling? It Might Be Time to Revamp Recall
If your practice is struggling, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what’s holding you back. You and your team members continue to do your best to move the practice forward, only to get the same result: abysmal patient retention numbers, lackluster production and low team morale.
This is frustrating. But once you understand what the problem is, you can start taking steps to make the necessary changes. In many cases, a broken recall system is the culprit. Dentists tend to ignore this important system, and have no idea that neglecting recall is the main reason their practice is hurting.
I can help you get your recall system back on track so you can finally realize true success and profitability. Here are my tips:
Consider hiring a Patient Coordinator. Over the years, I’ve talked to many dentists who say they simply ask their hygienist to call past due patients when there is down time. If you’re among them, it might be time to make some changes.
Your hygienist should be focused on producing, not spending time dialing for dollars. I suggest you hire a Patient Coordinator to take over this important task. Now I know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly afford to do that? Let me break it down for you. A good Patient Coordinator should be able to handle a patient base of 500 to 1000 in about 15 hours a week, at a rate of $15-18 an hour. Once your coordinator starts getting recall patients back on the schedule, boosting practice productivity, you’ll see this is money well spent.
Of course, you need to provide your Patient Coordinator with proper training if you want this team member to be effective, as well as a detailed job description that clearly outlines your expectations and performance measurements. The job description should include how many past due patients the coordinator is responsible for calling each day, and how many you expect to see on the schedule.
It’s also a good idea to develop a written script your coordinator can follow during these calls. Remember, this is an opportunity to educate patients about the services you provide, the importance of maintaining their oral health and the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment. Make sure the coordinator has access to patient information, and spends time addressing patient concerns and perceived barriers to care.
This team member should also be comfortable working with your practice management software to send email and text message reminders, so be sure to provide the proper training. Keep in mind this is how many patients prefer to be contacted, and is an important part of your recall system.
Always make sure you and your hygienist are on the same page. Your hygienist spends a lot of time with patients before you even enter the room. During the appointment, the hygienist educates patients about the value of oral health care and talks with them about problems in their mouth. Unfortunately, all this education goes out the window if you come in and tell patients everything looks good – which is a common problem I see in many practices.
I suggest you touch base with your hygienist as soon as you enter the room. Ask what was found and then talk with patients about any trouble spots the hygienist identified. Tell patients you’d like to take another look at these areas during their next visit. This keeps messaging consistent and also helps patients understand why it’s important to schedule treatment and keep coming back for their hygiene visits.
Focus on education. This is key to connecting with patients and establishing loyalty. If you take the time to educate patients, it shows them you care. It also helps them understand the value of the services you provide and of maintaining their oral health, which in turn makes them more likely to come back and refer your practice to family and friends.
Don’t rely on generic recall cards. There’s a good chance any recall cards you send with puppies and balloons on them will only end up in the trash. Along with calling past due patients, I suggest you create reminders. Customize the reminders for each patient and emphasize the value of returning to your practice. The cards should fit into an envelope and reflect your practice’s professionalism. Sure, they cost a little more than the generic cards practices typically send out, but they’re much more likely to encourage patients to pick up the phone and call your practice, giving you the results you’re after.
If your practice is struggling, chances are a lackluster recall system is partly to blame. Implementing these changes will help revamp your recall system, and that will ultimately grow practice production numbers and your bottom line.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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