For the Love of the Recall System
There are many offices that are struggling to keep the hygiene schedule full or have never been able to keep their hygiene schedule full. Then there are those offices that have three to four full time hygienists that are able to keep their schedule full even if there are eight changes in the schedule the day before. It’s not that it is easier for one office than it is for another. It’s the way they work the recall system in their office, or should we say do not work the recall system. The recall system that keeps the hygiene schedule productive is one of the most important systems in dentistry. However, it is often the most neglected system in many dental practices.
The reason the recall system is one of the most important systems is because these are the patients that also help to fill the doctor’s schedule. New patients help too, but it is the existing patients that supply most of the work. How many times have you been told that there is nobody else left to fill an appointment? That all of the lists have been exhausted and there is nobody else to call? The days of having the hygienist work the recall system when she is able are over. So are the days of having any front office person work the recall system when they make the time to do it or think that they should work it a little. These are the days when there needs to be one person responsible and accountable for working the recall system.
The patient coordinator is the position that we are talking about. This is one position that will help pay for their own salary quicker than you think, especially once they have their finger on the pulse of the recall system. Let’s say that you are going to pay the patient coordinator $15 an hour, 3 hours a day, four days a week, and they are going to work evening hours because this is the time that most patients are able to be contacted. In a two-week period, this business expense is approximately $360 for a two-week period.
How many appointments would the patient coordinator have to fill in your practice to justify their position? If a prophylaxis, 4 bitewing x-rays, and a periodic exam comes to a total of $180, not many appointments would need to be filled to justify the additional income. The hard part is having this person stay concentrated on the recall system even when the hygiene schedule is full. The reason why is because the ASAP list and short call list may be created in order to have a place to go when you have last minute cancellations or no shows. Even when there is a full schedule, last minute changes are the ones that cause the most grief.
It is recommended that the patient coordinator not be pulled off the recall system to help the business staff. The number one priority for the entire staff when there is open time in the schedule is to get it filled. However, it is always the number one priority of the patient coordinator. The perfect person for the patient coordinator position should have excellent telephone skills and communication skills. They should be trained on the software and know how to run recall/continuing care reports, look up accounts to evaluate money, understand insurance and limitations, understand periodontal disease and patient restorative needs, and how to create lists such as ASAP and short call list. They will also need to know how to look at all the patient information such as age, what they are due for, how to make appointments, and how to sell and educate patients about their dental needs.
The patient coordinator will be accountable for filling and keeping the hygiene schedule to production goal. This will be done by making notations in the patient record on the computer and keeping record of how many calls were made, how many appointments were made, and what patients were telephoned and their responses. The patient coordinator may be given additional hours once the hygiene schedule has no consistent openings. This would also increase the responsibilities to working treatment pending and taking care of new patient communications and follow up. However, at this time the number one responsibility will be keeping both the doctor and hygienist scheduled to goal.
As with all positions on the dental team, this is a very important position and should not be left to a person that is not highly trained as a dental professional.
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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