Why itís Time to Run your Past Due Recall Report
For your practice to thrive, you need to not only attract new patients, but also keep your current patients. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to focus on recall – but unfortunately, this is a system most dentists ignore.
If your practice is struggling, now just might be the time to reenergize your recall system. How? I suggest you start by looking at the Past Due Recall Report and tasking your Hygiene Coordinator with calling the patients on it. This report, which you run from your practice management software, can make or break your hygiene department and is something you should check at least once a month.
When you run this report, you might notice a lot of the patients on the list cancelled appointments at the last minute or just didn’t show up at all. These broken appointments bring chaos to your practice and hurt your bottom line – and many of them are a direct result of pre-appointing patients six-months out.
Think about this scenario. Mr. Huth is ready to check out after his appointment and Sarah the Hygiene Coordinator wants to schedule his next professional cleaning and exam, which is six months down the road. Mr. Huth tells the coordinator he’s a busy professional and has no idea what his schedule will be like in six months. He might not even be in town. This is how Sarah responds:
“Let’s go ahead and schedule the appointment anyway. If for some reason you can’t make it, just call and cancel.”
Mr. Huth reluctantly agrees, knowing full well he likely won’t be able to make that appointment.
Do you see the problem here? Mr. Huth now has an appointment he’s fairly certain he’ll need to cancel, which the Hygiene Coordinator has given him permission to do. Even worse, this busy patient might forget to cancel and just not show up at all. Not only does this cause chaos in your practice, it keeps patients who want to schedule treatment from getting an appointment. The schedule appears full because your practice is focused on scheduling six months out, even when patients tell you they likely won’t be able to keep the appointment.
Want even more reason to do away with pre-appointing, or to at least develop a hybrid method? About one-fourth to one-third of all patients who pre-schedule will either cancel or not show up for their appointment. That’s 2-4 patients per day per hygienist! That can really do damage to your practice.
Sarah should have said something like this to Mr. Huth instead:
“I understand Mr. Huth. The envelope you addressed to yourself in the hygiene room will be mailed to you about a month before you are due. You can call us then and schedule your appointment at a time that is convenient for you.”
This ensures the schedule isn’t filled with patients who probably won’t make their appointment time, and opens up room in the schedule for recall patients who are ready for treatment.
Start Working the List
“Mr. Jones, this is Sarah from Dr. Ward’s office. We’ve noticed that we failed to make an appointment for your six-month professional cleaning and exam. The doctor is concerned about your tooth on the lower right side. Do you prefer a morning or afternoon appointment?”
Notice Sarah didn’t ask if the patient wanted to schedule but when the patient wanted to schedule. That’s very important, as is being prepared to answer any questions the patient might have and addressing any perceived barriers to care.
And remember, you don’t have to only rely on phone calls. Consider investing in a patient communication system that sends texts, emails and/or postcards, and you’ll have even more success.
Reap the Rewards
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