Boosting Your Patient Recalls

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

Your Dental Manager Embraces South West England

We are delighted to announce that from 1st May 2017, Your Dental Manager has expanded its reach into the South West of England through an exciting and valuable alliance with well known Plymouth dentist Charlie Fox and practice business manager Edd Jones.

Charlie and Edd will be delivering a wide range of strategic and business management support, coaching and mentoring under the Your Dental Manager umbrella, to independent dental practices across the South West and we welcome them warmly into the YDM family.

Charlie and Edd’s experience, skills and knowledge, combined with those of the established Your Dental Manager team and resources, will quickly bring added benefit to existing and new client practices.

Dr. Charlie Fox BDS (U Birm.) LDSRCS (Eng.)

Charlie has been a dentist for 27+ years, having qualified via the Royal Navy in 1990.

Charlie initially worked in Scotland after leaving the  Navy in 1995. He moved to the South West in 1999, where he continued to work in various practices.

Charlie bought his own dental  practice in Plymouth in 2003, Hartley Dental.

Since owning Hartley, Charlie has built a fantastic environment for his patients, offering the highest levels of care and customer service.

Ensuring that his Practice is profitable, without compromising customer experience, is the key to Hartley Dental’s success

Edd Jones

Edd came into the dental industry with extensive business and customer-service management experience.

This experience  includes working within the security, gaming and leisure Industry, all of which are  highly  competitive and customer-service driven industries.

Edd prides himself on offering simple, effective and measurable business, operational management and customer service advice, specifically designed to help your business grow and move onto the next level.

Edd has a proven track record of increasing profitability, reducing costs and effectively managing teams of people during his career and is a nominee for 2017 Practice Manager of the Year.

“Charlie and Edd of C & E Consult are delighted to have joined with Your Dental Manager.

We will make full use of the extensive business management resources and experience of YDM to bring maximum benefit to our clients in the YDM South West region.

We look forward to working closely with YDM and practices across the South West to help your business grow.”

On-line booking of introductory calls and practice visits is now available for Charlie and Edd to discuss their work and availability in the South West, or contact them directly by e-mail.

For appointments and enquiries in the rest of the UK and Ireland, please continue to book your appointments through the main on-line calendar or e-mail

We all look forward to supporting many more practices across the thriving independent UK dental sector.

Your Dental Manager Embraces South West England

Job Opportunity – Practice Manager, Leeds


This Position is now filled

My client in Guiseley, Leeds is looking for an experienced, well-organised and professional part-time Practice Manager to join and help lead an established, friendly family dental practice for 3 days per week.

The practice is within easy commuting distance of Leeds and Bradford, with excellent transport links

The successful applicant will support the Principal Dentist and team to deliver increasingly high standards of customer care, ensure all systems and procedures are kept updated and adhered to whilst maximising business opportunities and enhancing team performance.

Previous dental experience is preferred but not essential. Strong management, people and organisational skills are. If you have proven leadership skills, have successfully managed a team of people in the past and looking for a part-time position, we would like to talk with you.

Salary range is £20k – £22k (pro-rata) dependent on experience

Key Responsibilities:

  • To guide, direct and successfully manage an existing team of motivated and happy people
  • To ensure all non clinical systems within the practice run smoothly and efficiently, constantly improving these
  • To ensure we always give practical support and care to our patients, ensuring their experience is constantly improving
  • To enhance the financial performance of the practice
  • To manage compliance within all regulatory requirements using established processes and procedures

The successful applicant will be required to undertake an enhanced DBS check

If you would like to apply for this position, please forward your CV and a covering letter outlining how you think you can help the practice to

Job Opportunity – Practice Manager, Leeds

Make a Difference With Your Practice Appointment Diary


Your practice appointment diary is a powerful tool at the heart of your business, with the Planning meetingpower to make or break the day for yourself, the team and your patients.

Left to run itself, without thought and planning, you will at best experience “organised chaos”. You will certainly know who is due in, when and hopefully why – but you and the team are always at the mercy of whatever has been randomly booked in, from routine checks to complex root canal treatments.

Here are some of the scenarios often seen when visiting practices

  • Queues in the waiting room as multiple patients arrive for short appointments – some arrive early, others arrive late – all seem to arrive at the same time
  • Multiple routine dental health checks in multiple surgeries at the same time
  • Patients leave the surgery without making payments or booking their next appointment due to a busy reception – more work to be done later
  • Telephones go unanswered as patient queues and over-running appointments are managed
  • Dental nurses making multiple journeys to the decontamination unit from multiple surgeries
  • Shortage of exam kits due to a backlog of sterilisation – even more to be purchased
  • No time to actively talk to patients as clocks and watches are checked by patients, receptionists and clinicians
  • Clinical earnings and hourly rates are down down despite being very busy
  • The next available appointment for a complex treatment is 5 weeks ahead
  • Receptionists tasked to fill the diary with any appointment at any time.
  • Plenty of white space in the diary but can I find a treatment slot for more than 30 minutes? Add this white space together and we have a surprising amount of downtime.

A realistic solution is to take control of your appointment diary and start by creating regular “Treatment Blocks” for more complex treatments.

  • No recalls/routine appointments to be booked into the Treatment Blocks
  • Zone out different Treatment Blocks for different surgeries sat different times o that when one surgery has low patient volumes another surgery has more recall appointments to smooth out patient volumesEducation concept: Think Different on digital background
  • Create as “Clinics” or equivalent so that your practice software doesn’t offer the Treatment Blocks when searched for recall appointments
  • Number and length of Treatment Blocks will be dependent on the split of work you have between routine recalls/health checks and treatment opportunities
  • Minimum 2 hour blocks to ensure time for either one or two complex treatments
  • Vary the days and use both morning and afternoon blocks to provide more choice to patients – maybe try a rolling 4 week rota of different days/sessions
  • Patients requiring treatment are often more flexible with time than recall patients – treatment blocks can make good use of mid-morning and mid afternoons – leave peak times for recall patients
  • The clinician has shared responsibility to fill treatment blocks by identifying patients  for treatment and advising reception to utilise next available slot
  • Reception can follow-up treatment plans and book patients into available treatment slots
  • Release any unused treatment block time two days prior to the date to allow time for reception to call short-notice patients, book in urgent appointments

A few of the benefits you will soon start to see from implementing Treatment Blocks:

  • Smoother flow of patient volumes across the week and working day
  • Increased take-up of Treatment Plans
    • Patients can be booked in quickly whilst discussions are still fresh in the mind
    • Improved service for patients
    • Patients feel more valued and appreciated
    • Reduced chance of appointments being cancelled if available within a few days
  • Reduced pressure on reception with less peaks and troughs of demand
  • Reduced pressure on clinicians and dental nurses from a healthy mixture of checks and treatments
  • Reduced pressure on decontamination facilities and availability of exam kits
  • Improved patient journey
  • Improved telephone-handling capacity across the working day and week
  • More consistent cash-flow, hourly rate and clinical earnings from a steady mix of checks and treatments
  • Incentive for clinicians to book patients in for treatment sooner rather than later
  • Calmer practice environment

There is plenty of help  and support out there to help you make a difference to your business, including Your Dental Manager, so please do get in touch to find out more: or check our on-line calendar to book a complimentary chat.



Make a Difference With Your Practice Appointment Diary

CQC Hotspots – November 2016


Reviewing a further sample of 50 CQC dental inspection reports published in November, highlighted a number of breaches which can easily be avoided.

Shortcomings were spread across the “Safe”, “Effective” and “Well Led” criteria. Recruitment procedures continue to feature prominently as does knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and it’s impact on valid consent.

Of the 50 practices sampled, just 4 practices were issued with breach notifications. Clearly the vast majority of practices are getting things right, which is great news.

In the spirit of continuous improvement and to try and help 100% of practices achieve a clean pass, here are some of the key-findings from these very recent inspections, which might just keep another practice out of trouble.

  • Regularly share your policies & procedures with the team and ensure everyone knows where they can be found. Don’t leave them “on the shelf”.
  • Keep your policies and procedures up to date with regular reviews and always date the review as evidence. Any changes/updates must be communicated to the team.
  • Inadequate recruitment checks and procedures including right to work, references and qualification checks continue to feature regularly. Make sure your staff files are well organised and compliant. Use checklists to ensure everything is covered and evidenced.
  • Missing or incomplete training records. Particularly individual training records for Infection Control, Information Governance, Complaints and Health & Safety.
  • Make sure the team have a good understanding of safeguarding for children and vulnerable adults, with local referral points identified and easily accessible.
  • Check that you have a valid Legionella Risk assessment and that all recommended checks are being actioned.
  • Inadequate Medical Emergency kit/supplies. Make sure you comply with the Resuscitation Council/GDC guidelines.
  • Not seeking or reacting to patient feedback. Make sure you have comment forms and collection box easily accessible to patients. Don’t forget to review and action the contents.
  • Irregular, or no, team meetings.  Make sure you hold meetings more than once or twice a year (preferably monthly), to keep everyone up to date and include lessons learned from audits/patient feedback. Remember to keep meeting minutes to evidence discussions.
  • Audits without essential evidence of learning and action points.
  • Missing or inadequate reporting of significant incident records, including follow-up actions and discussions. Make sure the team are aware of your procedures and learning points.
  • No evidence of tracking, monitoring and reacting to patient safety reports, including CAS and MHRA.
  • The Duty of Candour continues to be checked regularly. Make sure this is understood by all the team and that the procedures/working environment are in place to encourage openness and honesty.
  • Unclear or incomplete patient records have started to feature including the need to show evidence of health advice/best practice and compliance with NICE/FGDP/DH guidelines.
  • Evidence compliance with a preventative approach to dental care in line with DH publication “Delivering Better Oral Health”.
  • Patient records should clearly show treatment options available to patients and evidence of patients making an informed decision.
  • Make sure inexperienced/trainee staff have adequate supervision, mentoring and support.
  • Smaller practices in particular, need to ensure that they have robust referral procedures in place to ensure all patient needs are met and medical concerns escalated.
  • One practice was picked up for not using a rubber dam during root canal treatment
  • Regularly check use-by dates on stock in surgeries, emergency medical supplies and reception consumables to ensure none go out of date.
  • Check that all your dentists are up to date with Radiography training and that you have a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) appointed at all times.

As always, remember that if something is not recorded or evidenced, in the eyes of the CQC and other external bodies such as the NHS, it didn’t happen, even though you may know full well that it did! This continues to catch practices out, leading to frustration and avoidable stress for all!

Findings from previous inspection reviews can be found here:  CQC Hotspots

There is plenty of help out there to plug any management gaps including Your Dental Manager, so please do get in touch if you have any concerns or want to further improve the overall management/efficiency of your practice: or check our on-line calendar to book a complimentary chat.


CQC Hotspots – November 2016

Building a Closer, Stronger Team



A smooth-running, cheerful, successful practice with an enviable reputation for patient care is all linked to the strength, power and commitment of your practice team.

Successful teams have a number of key qualities including:

  • A good leader with vision, tact, diplomacy and focus
  • Individuals pull together and act as one team
  • All understand what makes a good week and what the practice is trying to achieve
  • Everyone contributes a fair share to the team’s workload
  • No hidden or personal agendas
  • Individuals spot when others need support and offer to help
  • All recognise the strengths and contribution of others
  • Open, honest and thoughtful communication
  • A varied range of skills, knowledge, personalities and characters
  • Good working relationships with, and respect for, each other
  • Recognise and adapt to the different ways in which people approach work
  • Enjoy working together

Team-building sessions for practices are often focused on the the ever-popular bowling, theme-parks and nights out at the local restaurant or wine bar. All good fun, great for morale and definitely help to develop one or two of the team qualities – but what about the rest?

How can you start to understand:

  • What makes you and others within the team tick?
  • How you and your colleagues like to work?
  • What is important to you and your colleagues?
  • How you react to others and how others see you?
  • How best to communicate with the team and individuals?
  • How best can your Manager, manage the team?
  • How best can your Leader, lead the team?

As a certified trainer and facilitator for Everything DiSC®, I can now help you strengthen and develop your practice team through a real understanding of all the above, pulled together and delivered in a fun and interactive workshop supported by individual work-style profiles for each of the team.

DiSC Certified Trainer Blue PNG SmallAhead of the 2 – 3 hour workshop, all members of the team complete a simple on-line questionnaire which assesses the way they like to work, how they react in typical work environments and how they like to work as part of a team.

From this we generate a comprehensive, but very easy to read and understand, 20 page profile highlighting and discussing the strengths and impact of each individual’s preferred work-style, priorities and role within the team, on others. Everyone gets to take this away with them after the workshop for personal development and to keep as a reminder or prompt.

The profiles are also great for both the team member and team leader to use as part of personal development planning.

We see these different styles all around us but often individuals don’t understand or know how to react which then causes friction and misunderstanding.

Each of us has elements from each of the four DiSC styles within our character – the proWorkplace-Circle_thumbfiles and workshop highlight where your preferences lay and which areas of work or team communication may take you outside of your comfort-zone.

Further value comes from personalised guidelines and recommendations within the profile on how to use your own strengths to work with others in the team who will inevitably have their own preferred style of working.All styles are seen as equally important and the workshop focuses on making the most of each style.

During the workshop, we fully explore the different working styles, ways in which teams interact and how all teams benefit from a healthy mix of individual styles which together make the team stronger, more focused and usually, happier.

To book or find out more about the team workshop and Everything DiSC profiles, contact Your Dental Manager here
Building a Closer, Stronger Team

How Do I Work With My Clients?


Your Dental Manager offers a wide range of personalised business management support and consultancy for dental practices and I generally start by understanding and identifying any management gaps which there may be in the practice.

Management gaps can arise in many ways including business growth, time pressures or lack of experience in a particular business area. In many cases there is simply no individual with sufficient business skills or experience immediately available. There are also often clear and burning management issues which the practice already know about, which need to be quickly addressed. 


Change is always a constant within modern businesses and dental practices are no different. Implementation of any kind of change from simple procedural changes to a fundamental change in the way the practice works, quickly highlights management gaps which I can help to bridge. Good project management and communication skills are always key to delivering a successful change.

There are many ways to bridge management gaps which may be a combination of business coaching, training, mentoring, direct support from myself, new systems, recruitment and perhaps even outsourcing some of the work. 

You can see more examples of how I work with practices here.

My aim is to become a readily-available, trusted business-support partner for my client practices with a shared understanding of how they work and where the owner wants to take the business. The number of practices I work with is closely monitored to ensure that I can maintain and develop this relationship.

Support from Your Dental Manager is very flexible being available as and when required with no ongoing or minimum commitment, which leaves the practice owner fully in control of the straight-forward fees. Business support is available remotely from as little as 15 minutes through to half-day and full-day practice visits.

Remote support is particularly flexible and cost-effective being available through a tailored combination of telephone calls, e-mail. SKYPE/Facetime, shared DropBox folders and remote access to a suitable practice PC/practice management software as and when required.

Fees are only charged for work completed to a client’s satisfaction which is fully logged on invoices.

Please take a look at some testimonials from other practice owners and explore my website to find out more about how I work. 

If you think I can help bridge some management gaps within your practice, please get in touch for a complimentary discussion:  Enquire Here or call Mark on 07813 721783.

How Do I Work With My Clients?