12.01.06 - Issue # 247 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Increase Your Patient Base 50%
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The day after Thanksgiving, as everyone knows, is the busiest shopping day of the year. Although it’s the official start of the holiday buying season, retailers pin a full year’s success or failure on this one 24-hour period that begins when the clock strikes midnight Thursday and concludes at 12 a.m. Friday. Merchants rely on the special “door buster” deals, the hot items, the before dawn openings, the gimmicks – anything to set themselves apart from the competition. They know they can win big or lose big in the span of just a few hours.

Now isn’t it a relief that your success or failure doesn’t hinge on one 24-hour period? Little do you realize, however, that the time you have is actually much less. Your success or failure is dependent largely on a few minutes, not hours.  Surprised? Consider this- for some dentists, the opportunity to make an impression on many patients is limited to a mere 10 minutes a year. It’s contained in those two five-minute interactions with patients who come in for nothing more than the six-month visit.

With five minutes here and five minutes there, just how do you build the practice-patient relationship? Unfortunately, as charismatic as you may be, five minutes twice a year doesn’t do it. Is it any wonder that the majority of your patients just drift away over time?

Disagree?  Look at your patient’s roll. Run a report from your practice management software that shows the number of patient names in your system compared to the number of active patients. It’s likely you’ll find only three out of 10 patients have been into your office during the last 12 months. In fact, most dental practices make 100% of their revenues from a mere 30% of the patients. What about the other 70%?  They’re inactive. Startling, isn’t it?

In our “too busy” culture, many patients are so focused on the day-to-day demands of life, work, and family, that after a couple of missed appointments they can easily become disconnected from a practice. While a dental visit may not be the first thing on their minds, your practice can still carve out a presence in even the busiest patient’s life. I’ve found the Elexity Patient Management System, which is incredibly easy to use and requires very little staff or doctor time, to be a valuable tool in the total patient reactivation package. 

Using your inactive patient report, identify those that have not been in the office in the last year. These are the patients most likely to return. With the help of the Elexity Patient Management System, the doctor or office manager pre-records a personal message from the practice letting the patient know that they have been missed and encouraging them to contact the office to schedule an appointment.

Over a period of a few weeks, phone calls are placed automatically to all of the patients identified as inactive. The calls appear on the patient’s caller I.D. to come directly from the practice, but Elexity handles the details, which means, aside from taking a couple of minutes to record a reactivation message, doctor and staff have to do absolutely nothing.  In addition, the Elexity system enables the practice to send an email to the patients that reinforces the telephone reactivation message. Once again, the message appears to come from the practice, but Elexity handles the details, so there’s no drain on staff resources. 

To round out the effort, the office can send a personal letter further encouraging the patient to schedule an appointment. In some cases, practices might want to offer an incentive, such as a whitening product, dental exam, or a financial incentive.

While you may not bring every inactive patient back into the fold, even if only 15% are reactivated, you’ve increased your active patient base to 45% and are growing your practice by 50% - a huge return on the investment.

Next week, stay connected between office visits and curb the numbers of patients slipping into inactive status.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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