3.18.11 Issue #471 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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You Must Have a Patient Coordinator
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

A call came in from a doctor, concerned that their hygiene department was not producing. The doctor had not established a daily production goal for the hygienists, so there was not a way to measure their performance, but it “felt” like they weren’t posting enough charges compared to the rest of the practice. This is not an uncommon complaint from many dentists, and the state of the economy is irrelevant. I have been hearing this for 30 years!

When performing the initial evaluation of our clients, many reports are generated and reviewed. One of the primary reports printed is the Past Due Recall Report. It is not uncommon to see 400-500 names on this report.

Lost Patients
The Past Due Recall Report indicates 450 names for the past 12 months. 450 / 12 months = 37.5 past due patients/month.

The Production Report for the number of Comprehensive Exams shows 350 patients.  350 / 12 months = 29 new patients/month.  This illustrates a potential loss of 8.5 active patients/month.

Lost Days of Hygiene
It is also important to determine how many hygiene days are needed to serve the active patient base of the practice, plus allowing for new and past due patients, as well as appointments for scaling and root planing. If these calculations are not performed at least every six months, the practice could be trying to keep the hygienists’ schedules filled when there are not enough patient appointments to accomplish this.

Patient Communication
It is imperative that patients are contacted regarding their upcoming appointments, as well as contacting those patients that are due but have not made their appointments.  Their appointments must also be “confirmed.” With the technology that is available today in the dental office, these contacts can be made via email, automated phone calls or text messages, as well as traditional communication with mail and employee-placed telephone calls.

There was a day when the attitude of the dental practice was that it is the patients’ responsibility to contact the practice or remember their appointments - no need to “baby-sit” the patient. If you still have this attitude, you either don’t need or want to increase your patient base!

Your Patient/Hygiene Coordinator
So, you ask - “Who is supposed to perform all these tasks?” The Patient Coordinator.  Now, you say - “I only have one business person at the front desk.” Okay, that is fine.  This person wears many hats:

  • Schedule Coordinator
  • Financial Coordinator
  • Treatment Coordinator
  • Insurance Coordinator
  • Patient/Hygiene Coordinator

The role of the Patient/Hygiene Coordinator carries the responsibility of managing the growth of the practice through increasing the active patient base in hygiene. By increasing your active patient base through hygiene, you also increase your “passive income.” It is important to recognize that 50% of your treatment is generated from your hygiene exams. Therefore, the more patients you see on a regular basis, the more opportunities you have for detecting, diagnosing and recommending needed treatment and reiterating outstanding treatment already presented.

What exactly does a Patient/Hygiene Coordinator do?

  • Maintains the Recall System
  • Implements the 5-Step Follow-Up Recall Program
  • Schedules to a specific daily hygiene goal
  • “Dials for Dollars” when necessary to maintain the schedule and pursue past due patients

The 5 Step Follow-Up Process is a systematic program to manage the patients that are due but not scheduled for their professional cleanings or periodontal maintenance appointments. The steps are as follows:

  1. Notify the patients that are due or have appointments for the upcoming month.
  2. Contact by phone, text or email those patients that are past due for the previous month.
  3. For patients that are 2 months past due, reach out using a friendly and informative letter on your office stationery. Your software should allow for mail merge to expedite this process.
  4. At 6 months past due, the patients should be contacted again by phone, text or email. As well, another letter should be remitted. This letter could include an informative brochure or a special offer.
  5. The final attempt to contact and schedule your past due patient is conducted when the patient is 12 months past due. Should the patient be on a 6 month interval, at this point they have not been seen by your hygienist in 18 months.

The point here is that a systematic protocol must be created to avoid continuous, repetitious and redundant attempts to contact patients. It is about a return on investment of time spent. At some point, it is time to stop the calls and your Patient Coordinator needs to understand when this time is.

When assigning job descriptions to your business team members, this position is the most important. There are no patients to schedule, no insurance claims to follow up on, no checks to post and no treatment to present IF there is a lack of patients in your practice. Think about the value of this position and the consequences if this position is not assigned. The 5 Step Follow-Up Process will never take place, as what typically happens in most dental offices is that the recall report gets “worked” only when there is nothing else to do. What is wrong with this picture?

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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