Patient Recall System For Your Dental Practice
Your patient recall system is the life blood of your dental practice. In the hustle and bustle of daily routines in the dental practice, the recall system is also often pushed aside to another day. Then that day comes when the dental hygiene schedule or restorative schedule has open time you can’t fill!
Sometimes, this is the only time the unscheduled hygiene patients receive a call. When there are open appointment times and the office is quiet, people can panic. What can be done to fill the schedule? Are there are reports to run? And patients we can call?
If you are waiting for quieter times in your dental practice to contact unscheduled hygiene patients, you are making a huge mistake! 80% of your dental restorative patients come from your hygiene chairs. Office stability and expansion can only come when a patient recall system becomes routine in your dental practice.
If you wish to see consistency in your dental office production, or even growth & expansion, read on!
My Patient Recall System
My patient recall system is only a small piece of a Weekly Management System I have personally developed. However, it is an absolutely crucial piece of the puzzle. Weekly Management Systems take all of the dental front office tasks. And the system organizes these tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities.
In a nutshell, this is how the patient recall system works: Each month of the year, a routine system of unscheduled hygiene patients are contacted. Each month is broken down into 4 weeks, right? So.. each week is assigned a group of patients to reach out to.
Week 1: Hygiene Recall System
Week 1: On the first week of each month, print a continuing care report that shows all patients who are due and are not scheduled for that particular month. Most likely, you are not going to want to print this report on a Monday morning. Mondays mornings are usually quite full and the dental front desk office is often just operating in survival mode on this day.
You will probably want to run this report on a Tuesday afternoon or a Wednesday morning. Check through this list to verify that none of these patients are actually scheduled. You don’t want to call someone who already has an appointment. And continuing care settings might not be attached correctly.
Some Things To Check On
Also check on insurance coverage. It’s important to be careful not to schedule a patient prior to their frequency limitations. Some patients may have insurance that only covers 6 months. Scheduling that patient a day before their insurance covers doesn’t make anyone happy!
This is a great time to double check continuing care settings and to be sure that all of the information set up on each individual patient is set correctly. Once you have confirmed that this patient is not scheduled and can be scheduled during the current month, give them a call! Let them know that you have noticed they are not scheduled and due for their routine hygiene appointment.
Hopefully, your patient is scheduled at that first phone call. If not, leave a message asking your patient to call you. I don’t recommend going into detail why. Just leave your name and office name & phone number. Ask your patient to call you at your earliest convenience.
Short Notice Call List
This is also a great time to add your patient to a short notice call list! If you are unable to schedule your patient for a specific date or time that they are hoping for, offer to call them with any schedule changes! Let your patient know you will work on this for them. Then do everything in your power to make it happen!
Be sure to make notes in your software somewhere that you have reached out to your patient if you were unable to schedule. You may want to use your office journal or other feature you may have to note the conversation or message left. It’s impossible to remember every conversation. Good notes make call backs so much easier.
Sometimes, patients will ask for a call back . Be sure to schedule this for yourself! Make a note and call them again as promised.
Week 2: Hygiene Recall System
Week 2: On the second week of each month, you will want to run the report for all unscheduled hygiene patients who are over 30 days due for their hygiene visits. You will follow the some of the same steps you followed on Week 1. However, some of these patients you may have reached out to on Week 1. Perhaps you left a message and haven’t heard back. It’s ok to try again.
This is where your patient relations are going to really come into play.
Get to know your patients! Learn their schedules a little and what they do. If you do not know your patients well because you haven’t worked with them very long yet, you can use this outreach as a way to build on your relationship.
Week 3 Hygiene Recall System
Week 3: On the third week of each month, you will run a report for all unscheduled hygiene patients who are over 60 days due for their hygiene visits. If you have patients who have not returned your first or second phone call, I would not recommend leaving a third message.
Try another method of reaching your patient. My suggestion is a personal note card from one of the dental hygienists who has provided care for the patient. The patient’s relationship is often quite strong with their dental hygienist.
Have some personal note cards printed with the dental office logo or a photo that is used to promote your dental office. Keep it simple. The message inside can be pre-printed with something like “We miss you” or left blank for your own personal notes to the patient.
Week 4: Hygiene Recall System
Week 4: The last week of each month, run the report for all unscheduled hygiene patients who are more than 90 days due for their hygiene visits.
This is usually the largest list of patients. Keep in mind, that most of these patients you have already reached out to 3 times. If you still have no response from your patient at this point, and you have reached out to them 3 separate times, make one final attempt.
This attempt is a more formal letter but still keep it warm and friendly. You definitely don’t want to step into a cold, clinical atmosphere with your patients. Let them know you have been unable to reach them and hope to hear from them soon.
Have the letter all ready to go in your quick letters or whatever software tool you have that allows you to merge your patient information with pre-written letters and forms.
Here is a quick example of a letter you could use to send to those patients.
City, State Zip
Our records indicate that you are overdue for your dental hygiene visit.
We have previously called & sent a note to reach out to you, and want to make sure you remain in good dental health!
This will be our last attempt to contact you, as we don’t want to be a burden.
Please call us at (555) 555-5555 today and we will schedule your checkup as soon as possible.
We miss seeing you in the office and look forward to seeing you soon!
What If You Still Don’t Hear Back? I wait 18 months from a patient’s last hygiene appointment to inactivate their patient chart. This is really a subject for another day. 18 months is my cut off though.
Be Proactive: Don’t wait until your hygiene schedule has open appointments you can’t fill to start calling your unscheduled patients! Implement my patient recall system and follow it faithfully each month
Another great tool in keeping your hygiene schedule fully booked is creating a strong call list for appointments that become available at the last minute. It happens. No matter how strict your reschedule policy is.
Patient Recall System With Automated Communication Tools
I am a huge fan of automated communication tools! Lighthouse is my favorite!! This tremendous tool cuts down so much manpower and automates even your patient recall system! Still.. there are patients who will opt out of receiving automated messages that you will need to contact manually.
When you use this automated communication system, you greatly improve your patient recall system! And simplify your life! You can customize how patients receive communication, how often they receive communication , and what technologies they prefer to use.
You will wonder how you ever lived without it! Your patients will thank you for using Lighthouse. And will enjoy their text & email reminders and communications.