Best Dental Recall Systems Defined
What do the best dental recall systems have in common? Let’s begin with a solid hygiene schedule. A strong call list for schedule changes. Patients schedule their next hygiene appointments ahead of time. And any unscheduled hygiene patients receive calls. Continuing care settings are accurate. Patient retention is high. The dentist’s schedule soars. Then, the dental practice grows.
There are many pieces to bring together. Miss one piece of the recall system and you miss the goal. Of course, the ultimate goal is exceptional patient care. Dental practice growth and expansion is the result. Excellent systems bring excellent results. Exceptional patient care and practice growth. So, how do we get there?
Begin with the end in mind. Define exactly what you want to see in your hygiene department:
Then take one step at a time. Let’s take a look at these 7 steps to get your recall system in better shape. You can work all of these steps simultaneously. There’s no need to wait until you complete one to start another!
Continuing Care Settings Are Accurate
If continuing care settings are wrong, the whole system is broken. Take the time to get this piece right. The computer system is going to give back what you put in. And you want to know who is due for what. Which you can’t do if the continuing care setting is wrong. Is your patient due for a perio maintenance or a prophy? This is critical information.
It’s also helpful for x-rays and exams. At a glance, you want to know who needs x-rays. And you also want to know who is due for an exam. The last thing you want is to review each patient’s history in detail.
Keeping this clean takes some work. People make mistakes. So, it’s important to look at continuing care settings for each patient. But this can be done when they are in the office. Or this can also be checked when running reports. For example, when running continuing care reports, this is a great time to double-check on things.
Accurate settings provide great reports. But be sure to clean out these settings for inactive patients. You don’t want continuing care settings on patients’ charts who have left the practice. Keep this as clean as possible for the best report results.
Hygiene Patients Are Scheduled In Advance
I believe the best dental hygiene systems schedule patients in advance. Even though I recently read this is “old-school” and “old-fashioned”, I still believe in it. Maybe because I have never done it any other way. But it works!
Schedule patients out for their 3 or 4 month recall visits. And be sure they are set for 2 more appointments. Patients with periodontal conditions need to stay on track. You can even tell your patients this when you schedule. Stress the importance of staying on track.
Tell your patients they will get reminders. Hopefully, you are using an automated system to help you. Set up your reminder system so they get plenty of notice. I still send old-fashioned postcards a month in advance. Then text message reminders 2 weeks ahead. Followed by more text message reminders 2 days out. One final text reminder the day of the appointment.
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Best Dental Recall Systems Contact Unscheduled Patients Systematically
This is where continuing care reports prove their worth! The continuing care reports must be printed each and every week. But, a different window of time is used each week. Let me explain. Pick a day you want to run the continuing reports. Let’s say, Thursday. Then, on the first Thursday of the month, run an unscheduled patient list for that month. You want every unscheduled hygiene patient who is due that month.
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Reach out to unscheduled patients each and every month! Different patients prefer different types of communication. Get to know your patients well. Some patients prefer a phone call. While other patients would rather receive a text. Then there are those who want a short note in the mail. Knowing your patients well, will also help you fill any open appointment times quicker.
Create A Strong Call List
Schedules change! Life does go on outside the dental office. So, as patients call to reschedule their hygiene appointments, add them to your call list. Find out what the best dates and times are for them. Offer everyone who calls in to reschedule this option.
This is where you can utilize your re-schedule policy well. Not as a tool to beat your patients up with. No. Use this as a tool to create your call list. Let your patient know that the hygiene schedule books out 6 months. It will be some time before you have an open appointment time. Hopefully, you can find an appointment in 2 or 3 months. Then, offer to work on getting them in sooner. Voila!
Keep your call list clean. Your list will need maintenance and upkeep. Cross patients off that you have scheduled. You also want to remove any patient that you have called 5 times and are still unscheduled. There’s no point in wasting time. Leave them a final message to let them know you are taking them off the call list for now. Also let them know that you do look forward to hearing from them.
Communicate your reschedule policy well when you make each hygiene appointment. And this is something we want everyone on the team to do. Whenever we make a hygiene appointment for a patient or reschedule a hygiene appointment for a patient, communicate the practice reschedule policy well. We do this without using the words “our policy.” Learn how to get a patient commitment and how to use your tone and body language well!
Inactivate Patients Each Month
Best dental recall systems inactivate patients regularly. As you are working your unscheduled reports, inactivate any patient you haven’t seen in 18 months. This will keep your numbers clean. And it will also help you when a patient calls to schedule. It will be an alert to you right away that the patient hasn’t been in for at least 18 months.
Don’t be afraid of this. It’s the right thing to do. Be sure to really clean the account when you do this. Delete all information in the continuing care field. And then delete any employment or insurance information. You will update all of this if the patient returns.
Accurate patient numbers help you know how many hygiene hours you need. Otherwise, you will be guessing at the number of hygiene hours you need. That’s not helpful. Hopefully you are tracking new patient numbers each month too. Keep a list of patients that were inactivated for your dentist to review each month. Then, subtract the number of inactivated patients from the new patient numbers for the month. (This includes patients who have moved or transferred care). You may see negative numbers if you are doing a big clean up of accounts.
Best Dental Recall Systems Monitor Monthly Hygiene Numbers
Each practice will decide for themselves what numbers they want to track. I suggest at least tracking the total number of hygiene hours available each day. Then next to that, track the total number of hygiene hours scheduled. Then, total that each month and monitor the totals month to month.
These numbers will help you see improvements. Tracking the total number of hours available each day will also help the office decide when is the right time to add more hygiene hours. Accurate active patient numbers are also important.
Organizing your recall system will pay off. You will provide better patient care. The practice will also be able to make more informed decisions and better understand the needs of the practice as a whole.
Best Dental Recall Systems: 7 Steps
- Continuing Care Settings Are Accurate
- Hygiene Patients Are Scheduled In Advance
- Unscheduled Hygiene Patients Are Contacted Systematically
- Strong Call List & System To Fill Open Appointments
- Reschedule Policy Is Communicated As Each Hygiene Appointment Is Made
- Inactive Patients Are Routine Inactivated
- Hygiene Numbers Are Monitored
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