Boosting Your Patient Recalls

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Effective and reliable patient recalls are a critical part of your practice for many reasons:

  • Essential for ongoing patient care
  • Keep patients to recommended intervals and avoid slipping, often by many months
  • Minimise future pain and treatment through preventative care
  • Patient education
  • Relationship-building
  • Identification and discussion of patient needs, aspirations and future treatments
  • Practice cash-flow
  • Forward planning
  • Diary management
  • Minimise the time spent by back-office staff trying to fill white space

Here are some thoughts and suggestions to help improve and streamline your approach

  • Always encourage patients to pre-book their next 3, 6 12 month appointment
    • Significantly reduces the volume of recalls to manage on a monthly basis
    • Allows patients to choose convenient appointments which may not be available to them nearer the time
    • Appointments can be changed as necessary subject to your 24/48 hour cancellation policy
    • Make good use of the automated reminder services within your practice software and use firm but friendly wording about the importance of attendance within the reminders
  • Replace the word “routine”  with “essential” or “vital”
  • Replace the phrase “check-up” with “comprehensive dental review” or “consultation”
  • Make full use of the automated recall systems within your practice software
    • This will take care of maybe 80% or more of your routine recalls
    • Typical recall schedule for a June recall is:
      • Automated reminder in May
      • Automated reminder in June for those still outstanding
      • Automated “Overdue” reminder in July, which is more detailed,
        • Highlights the importance of regular attendance
        • Benefits of ongoing, preventative care
        • List of the many aspects of oral health care covered during a recall
          • Create/make use of a 16 to 20 point bulleted Dental Health Review summary, based on all the checks undertaken
      • Automated reminder after 12 months, which is more of a reactivation approach
        • Details of what is included in the “essential” recall using your Dental Health Review summary mentioned earlier
        • Highlight importance of ongoing care
        • Ask for contact to enable records to be updated
        • Seek confirmation if no longer wishing to remain as a patient so that their place can be given to others on the waiting list
  • Review and personalise your automated recall letters carefully:
    • Firm but friendly letter which reflects your practice ethos/image/brand
    • Highlight benefits and importance of regular attendance
  • Practice staff focus their time and effort on contacting patients, by telephone, who have not responded or booked their next appointment after the third, “Overdue” automated reminder
    • In the above example, practice staff would be making phone calls in June to patients who are still overdue for a recall from April 2017 (2 months ago)
    • Phone call should be on a patient-care/concern over missed recall approach
    • Check that patient records/contact details are up to date
    • Build relationship with the patient and establish a good rapport
    • Understand patient preferences/needs
    • Respond to any questions or concerns
    • Update records and close off if patients have moved away or no longer wish to be a patient
    • Book an appointment
  • Keep your dental records up to date with each attempt at contact and with feedback or comments from patients so that you can follow up and pick up on previous discussions. This also avoids multiple contact to the same patient within a short period of time
  • Use your practice software “follow-up” lists to diarise patients who ask for a call-back, or more time
  • Use your practice software to help track and monitor progress with recalls. Most will now produce comprehensive, interactive and visual reports to help
  • Build regular “treatment blocks” into your diary to ensure days are not fully blocked with recalls, leaving no time for longer treatments

In summary:

  • Review your recall messages/letters and make them firm, friendly and compelling
  • Promote the benefits of regular attendance
  • Highlight and summarise the many checks completed during your “Comprehensive Dental Reviews”
  • Make good use of automation for the majority of recalls
  • Keep records of all contact
  • Plan out your diary and create treatment blocks
  • Focus on the much smaller list of patients who are still overdue after 2 months and speak with them
  • Follow-up and persevere
Boosting Your Patient Recalls

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