11.2.07 - Issue # 295 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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Recall Tools to Improve Patient Retention

A dental office management operation encompasses mainly scheduling, billing, collections, insurance, delivery of dental care and the recall system.  As dental health care providers and managers of our patient’s concerns we can never stop educating our patients about dental diseases and how they affect total health.  How eradicating these diseases will benefit the patient by ultimately prolonging lives and improving the quality of lives. This education program becomes an integral part of the success of every dental practice.

 As part of the Advanced Business Training and Dentist’s Start-up Program at McKenzie Management we demonstrate a successful recall system based on sending a letter style recall versus a “cutesy” postcard message.  The important health care reason to return to the dental office cannot be visualized when the patient receives a cartoon character on a postcard making light of the request to call and schedule the professional cleaning or periodontal maintenance procedure.  The letter style recall system affords opportunities to communicate with the patient on a professional level and brings the recall appointment to a new height of urgency and importance. In the envelope we can enclose a message to call or a reminder card plus a message as to why the patient should return such as “we need to check the periodontal pocket on #18” or “we need to check the cracked filling on #2 and #29”.  We can also include in the envelope a prescription for pre-medication for the convenience of the patient.  Giving the patient a more urgent reason to return is most important but also in this envelope we can insert brochures about new services and products we now offer.  The brochures are small enough to enclose in the envelope and can be obtained thru McKenzie Management.  Some of the subjects include:

  • Reasons why a professional cleaning is necessary
  • Why sealants are recommended
  • The signs of periodontal disease
  • Information on composite restorations
  • Information about the different teeth whitening products
  • Information about crowns, inlays and onlays
  • Information about implants
  • Information about veneers and other cosmetic options
  • Pregnancy and dental disease

For patients who are late scheduling their professional periodontal maintenance procedure a brochure about periodontal disease can plant a seed that postponing this necessary appointment can have long-term negative affects.  The letter style is HIPPAA compliant whereas detailed information cannot be written on a postcard.

We all know that dental insurance companies scrutinize claims to make sure that the charges are part of the patient’s contract benefit allowances.  Recently I received a letter from Delta Dental of Massachusetts in regards to their program Healthy Mouths for Life oral health management program.  I was pleased to see that they have recognized the importance of continual education of the patient and the positive results of regular preventive care.  Using incoming claim data they can identify members experiencing gum disease or tooth decay and send them relevant informational brochures. Patients who have received scaling and root planning or osseous surgery receive a brochure that describes the cause and treatment for periodontal disease as well as suggestions for keeping gums healthy.  Patient who are under the age of sixteen and have a filling will have a brochure sent to the parents about prevention of decay and if applicable will receive another brochure promoting the benefits of preventive sealants.  To the benefit of the patient, Chlorhexidine mouth rinse following scaling and root planing and prescription strength fluoride toothpaste following periodontal surgery will be covered twice in a calendar year when dispensed by the dentist in his/her office. This is great news and I am sure other insurance companies are following suit as their research indicates keeping patients healthy benefits all. 

The evidence based data now linking periodontal bacterium to low birth weight babies has prompted some insurance companies to allow another prophy or periodontal cleaning to the frequency limitations.  Proper documentation is necessary to get the claim paid and a medical diagnostic code will have to be included in some cases.

Never assume that your patient “has heard it all before”.  Never stop promoting education as part of your daily dental operations. 

For more information about the Advanced Business Training and Dentist Start-up Programs for your educational benefit,  email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our web-site at www.mckenziemgmt.com.
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