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7.18.08 Issue #332 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Angie Stone RDH, BS
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Recall, Recare, Who Really Cares?

Over the years there has been discussion about what an appointment should be called when a patient returns for a hygiene visit. Some say “recall” and some prefer “recare.” The question is not what it should be called but rather, “Who in the office really cares about this system?”

Answer the following questions to determine if anyone in your practice cares!

  • Does your hygiene schedule stay booked for the day and have 0.5 openings per day or less?
  • Does your office have a team member who is responsible and accountable for the recall system and is it listed in the job description?
  • Is the lost production for the open time monitored?
  • Are you sure you have the correct amount of hygiene hours available each month to accommodate all the patients who are in need of their professional cleaning and oral examination, including new patients and periodontal therapy patients?
  • Is the hygiene time you have available based upon the number of active recall patients, the average number of new patients and the historic periodontal services in your practice?
  • Is the amount of hygiene hours needed determined every three months?

If you responded with a NO to two or more of these questions, it would be safe to say that no one in the office cares about the recall system (or recare system, if you prefer). Without constant “caring” for this system, the dental practice will have a struggle keeping the hygiene department in the black.

This system is one of the most vital systems of a dental practice and the one that dentists, hygienists, assistants and business office personnel often have no idea how to manage. Oh, they all think they know, but an analysis of the system almost always proves they do not. At best, offices send out “cutesy” postcards to patients who are due for their appointments, asking them to phone and schedule. That is usually the extent of the system.

When asked what happens if the patient does not call, the response is often a blank stare and silence. After a few seconds of thought, they reply with, “Nothing.” No appointment gets scheduled, nobody is in the chair, oral health is not being assessed and no treatment is being provided. This translates to big losses for the practice and the patients.

What can you do to ensure this system is being cared for in your office? Employees cannot do what they have not been taught to do. That being said, the first step is education. In today’s dental offices, most systems are implemented by a dental software program. Look into how your software tracks and manages the recall statistics. This may require hands-on training from the software provider. If this avenue is selected, it is wise to train all employees, not only the business personnel. Although this can help bring the recall system up to speed, it is not going to fix the system entirely.

Software instruction is most effective when utilized in conjunction with McKenzie Management’s Hygiene Enrichment Program. This program teaches the whole team the who, what, where, when and why of the recall system. At the conclusion of the program, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind why this is one of the most, if not THE most important system in the dental office. The result of the investment in your recall system will include fewer openings in the hygiene chair, better patient service and retention, less time spent attempting to track patients down and increased production and revenue of the hygiene department.

The Hygiene Enrichment Program includes education on many other topics in addition to the recall system that will benefit your practice, including:

  • how to develop and incorporate an effective periodontal therapy program,
  • how to bill dental insurance for periodontal therapy services,
  • how to discuss periodontal disease with patients,
  • how to increase patient compliance,
  • how to increase hygiene production/revenue, and more.

Take the first step toward caring for your recall/recare system today. You will begin to see both the benefits for patients and the practice start improving immediately.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?

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