When it comes to patient recall in your dental practice, understanding the “how” is more important than the “why.” After all, the “why” is pretty obvious. Regular visits are vital to both your patients’ overall health and the practice’s profits.
My name is Jennifer Pearce, and I am the founder, owner, and lead-coach at Prosperity Dental Solutions. With over two decades of dentistry experience, I understand the importance of recall. I also know the secrets to better patient recall numbers.
Tip #1: Improve Patient Recall Numbers in the Treatment Room
The dental hygienist and doctor both play an important role in ensuring patients schedule and keep routine dental visits.
Make sure the dental hygienist has enough time to discuss the purpose of preventative care. Have them stress the importance of avoiding more costly, invasive treatments by keeping oral health a priority. Minor issues caught early can be resolved before requiring big procedures that cost big money.
The dentist should also be involved. Instead of saying, “Everything looks great,” or telling patients they’re doing a good job, give them reasons to return. Glib one-liners may sound friendly, but they can also minimize the need to keep the next appointment.
Discuss any potential concerns noticed on the exam and what to watch out for. Even if their exam is perfectly normal, talk about common issues with patients their age or who have the same medical condition, such as diabetes. When the doctor goes into detail, it helps patients understand the reason to return.
Also, while it may seem obvious the patient needs to return in six months, patients pay more attention when it is the doctor telling them. This makes it more likely to get the patient to commit to their next visit.
Tip #2: Improve Patient Recall Numbers by Front Office Staff
When the patient checks out, the front office should make sure their follow up is scheduled. A commitment to 100% reschedules makes an immense difference. If the patient says they can’t schedule because they don’t know what their availability will be, stress the importance of scheduling anyway. After all, a promise from them that they will call later to schedule an appointment gets forgotten too often.
Let the patient know you will call to remind them two weeks before the appointment, and they can change it if they need to. This also alerts them that the office will follow up, so they don’t view the call as an intrusion.
Also, have the front office check to see if the patient at the desk has family members needing appointments. Encourage the patient to schedule the entire family so they can be conveniently seen together. As a bonus, if a family has three dental appointments on the same day, they are less likely to cancel or no-show.
If several team members share in the patient recall responsibility, consider having a contest to see who schedules the most patients. A little financial incentive, tickets to an event, or a gift card to a nice restaurant can tremendously increase motivation.
You may also consider having at least one team member make phone calls during off-hours. Many patients have jobs and cannot answer the phone during normal business hours. The cost of a few hours of overtime is worth it if even one patient schedules.
And don’t forget about patients once they are on the schedule. Be sure to follow through with reminder and confirmation calls, texts, or emails.
Tip #3: Better Patient Recall Numbers Through Diversification
Different people have different preferred methods of communication. While data shows text messages have the best response rates, not all patients prefer texts. This is especially true with the older population. For them, hearing a voice and talking with someone makes them feel more cared about.
On the subject of phone calls, encourage your patients to save your practice number in their cell phone. With the high number of spam calls, more and more patients ignore calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Having your practice number saved makes it easier for them to reach you when needed and increases the likelihood they will answer when your office calls.
Ask your patients which communication medium they prefer—text, phone call, or email—and add this information into their chart. That way, you can be sure to reach out to them in a way they most appreciate.
Personalized letters, flyers, and special deals should also be considered.
For instance, many practices offer free teeth whitening for life for patients who keep their recall appointments. While it doesn’t have to be teeth whitening, offering a special incentive will motivate patients to schedule and keep appointments.
Are you Ready for Better Patient Recall Numbers?
Contact us online or call (817) 975-4576 today to see how we can improve your dental practice through increased patient visits.