Take Control of Recall with These 3 Tips
If you want to grow your practice and finally meet your full potential, you really have to start focusing on recall. Most dentists don’t put much thought into this critical system, which is a costly oversight that does nothing but hold them back. I’m here to help change that.
Your recall system represents one of the best ways to grow your practice and increase revenues. Just think about all that unscheduled treatment, and how getting these patients on the schedule would improve your production numbers. Once you take control of your recall system, you’ll start seeing more of those patients – and that will do wonders for your bottom line.
How can you revamp recall, you ask? Follow my three tips:
1. Hire a Patient Coordinator. If you’re serious about reenergizing recall, you must put someone in charge of the system who you can hold accountable for its progress. That’s why I suggest hiring a Patient Coordinator. This team member will be responsible for calling a certain number of past-due patients a day and getting them on the schedule.
Now you might be thinking, Sally, I really can’t afford to hire a Patient Coordinator right now. The good news is, it isn’t as costly as you think. A good Patient Coordinator can handle a base of 500 to 1000 patients in about 15 hours a week, at a rate of $15-$18 an hour. This is a small price to pay for turning inactive patients into active patients who schedule treatment.
Of course, you can’t just hire a Patient Coordinator and expect this new team member to magically fix your recall system. You need to provide the proper guidance, which comes in the form of a detailed job description, training and continual feedback. It’s also important for your Patient Coordinator to have access to a well-thought-out script and the most up-to-date patient information. With the necessary tools, these calls will be much more effective and you’ll soon find you have more patients on your schedule.
2. Show patients the value of the care you provide. When patients don’t understand the importance of maintaining their oral health, they really have no reason to schedule and keep their appointments. That’s why it’s so important to look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate, whether it’s over the phone, at the front desk or chairside.
Take the time to talk with patients about their oral health goals and tell them about the services you provide to help them meet those goals. Educate them about their condition and the possible consequences of not going forward with recommended treatment. Show them their radiographs, images from the intraoral camera and educational videos to help them understand exactly what’s going on in their mouths. Not only will they appreciate the extra effort, they’ll have a much better understanding of what can happen if they don’t make and keep regular appointments – helping to turn them into loyal patients who might even refer.
3. Communicate with the hygienist. All too often, dentists pop into the treatment room, quickly examine patients, tell them everything looks fine and then head to their next appointment. That’s a good way to guarantee patients don’t come back for a recall visit.
Before you come in for your portion of the appointment, the hygienist spends a lot of time examining patients and educating them about any issues found. If you follow that up by telling them everything looks good, they’re not going to see a need to come back for another appointment. They also might have trouble trusting the hygienist, which could prompt them to look for a new dental home.
To avoid this, I suggest you touch base with your hygienist as soon as you walk into the room. Get a quick overview of what was found, then talk with patients about their trouble spots. Echo the hygienist’s message and remind patients how important it is to revisit these areas during their next appointment.
Instead of ignoring it, now is the time to take control of your recall system and get past-due patients back on the schedule. Following these tips will help you do just that, leading to a larger base of loyal patients who trust your treatment recommendations and refer your practice.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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How Employee Bonuses Can Hurt Your Practice
Dentist Case Study #341
The doctor’s concerns: “My practice is only five years old and really struggling. The number of new patients I see each month has declined, which has led to a reduction in hygiene production as well as the number of opportunities I have to diagnose patients and recommend treatment. I’m still in a lot of debt from dental school and dealing with out of control overhead costs. I’m worried about the future of my practice and know I need to find a way to boost revenues.”
After taking a close look at this practice, we made a few discoveries. First, this doctor was allowing his team members to make many important management decisions. He wasn’t comfortable with this side of practice ownership, so he hired experienced team members he thought could handle those tasks. Unfortunately, he also ended up hiring too many, with payroll wage overhead coming in at about 25% and benefits overhead reaching almost 7%.
The young doctor also implemented some of the protocols he became familiar with during his time as an associate. Of those, the bonus system he put into place was one of the most damaging. Through this system, employees received bonuses based on the ratio of Accounts Receivable to Collections. And even though the practice was dealing with skyrocketing overhead costs and wages above the industry standard, he was STILL giving out bonuses each month.
Why in the world was he doing this when his practice was so clearly struggling? It’s simple. His employees had come to expect the bonus and he didn’t know how to take it away. He was afraid team morale would suffer and that he might actually lose talented, hard-working employees to a practice that could offer the bonus system they wanted.
If you’re going to give out bonuses to your team members, you have to make it very clear that they won’t be available when the practice isn’t as profitable as it needs to be. Bonuses only should be given when the practice performs above and beyond expectations, which clearly wasn’t happening in this situation. This doctor chose to use money from his own pocket to pay out bonuses, making his already stressful financial situation even worse.
McKenzie Management instructed this doctor to stop the bonus program until practice improvements were made, and make sure team members understood why. We also suggested he start looking at different, more effective ways to reward employees. With bonuses, the focus is on money rather than performance. When employees receive a bonus even though the practice is struggling, they have no reason to excel in their role. Their performance never improves and neither does the practice.
That said, it’s still important to recognize employees for a job well done. That’s why I suggest implementing a rewards program. Develop a system that enables employees to earn both monetary and non-monetary rewards. This creates a reward-for-performance philosophy, encouraging team members to develop an ownership attitude toward the practice. What does that mean? They become more invested in the practice’s success and actively look for ways to contribute to that success. Employees will work better as a team, boosting morale and overall job satisfaction.
Sound good, but not sure where to get started? Here are a few ideas this doctor tried that you can implement in your practice as well:
- Provide positive feedback as often as possible
When developing your rewards program, determine how results will be measured, what level of performance is expected, what rewards you will offer and who will be eligible for those rewards. Then, sit down with your team members to let them know about the rewards program and how they can participate.
After trading in his bonus system for a rewards program, our doctor took his practice from struggling to thriving. Team members were more motivated to excel, leading to increased practice efficiencies and more production. Implementing a rewards program into your practice can help you do the same. If you need more guidance, feel free to reach out to McKenzie Management and we’ll help guide you through the process.
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