January 13, 2011
One system in the dental office, which is often overlooked, is the dental hygiene departments’ recare system.
It works best when the office doesn’t need to call patients to come in
for a missed or delayed dental hygiene appointment. The dental hygiene
preventive care appointments are the lifeline of your dental practice.
At least 80% of the diagnosed dentistry in your practice should be
coming from the dental hygiene preventive care appointments. When
patients leave the dental hygiene appointment without a future
appointment scheduled this will dramatically decrease your practice
profitability by at least 50%.
The most effective way to keep the hygiene schedule full is to number one, pre-block your schedule. Once you have set up a pre-blocked and tiered schedule
you need to understand the meaning of all patients leaving their dental
appointment with an appointment for their next dental visit; always
scheduling their hygiene appointment in advance.
This strategy is designed to keep the hygiene schedule full and
productive. When the hygiene schedule is not full, a domino affect will
occur. Not only is it possible to have patients fall through the cracks
with timely hygiene preventive care appointments but the dentist will
see openings in the treatment schedule in the future. Many years ago, it
was the standard of care to have a patient complete a postcard and then
call in for their next hygiene appointment. Long time ago it was
discovered this did not set up a good system of productivity for the
dental practice as a whole.
Most offices that adhere to a strategy of having patients call to
reschedule appointments will have many openings on the hygiene schedule.
People are very busy in the 21st century: numerous email addresses to
check, various voicemails, family activities, exercise class, church,
work and professional agendas to attend to,etc. If it isn’t on their
calendar months in advance they tend to put it off – near the bottom of
that “to do” list. With technology today,we are able to lock in our
appointments and then even have a pop-up reminder occur months, days and
even minutes before an appointment is to occur.
When patients do fall through the cracks, the best method to have
them return is to call them on the phone. When the correct recare system
is in place, the hygiene schedule will be full. This keeps the practice
“in touch” with its patients and increases patient retention
dramatically. Sending a postcard to patients is too passive and
impersonal. The best plan for the success of scheduling appointments is
to have communication skills in place and effectively use them while the
patient is in the dental office. This will avoid numerous patients
falling through the cracks each year.