Wednesday, April 01, 2020

What do you do about recall? Sometimes no matter what we do, patients don't make us a priority! Recall is something hygienists struggle with and there is no magic formula for getting patients to show up all the time. Dentistry is the only profession that has to constantly nag and track down our patients to get them to show up. They make an appointment, we send out recall postcards two weeks before and even call and confirm it one day before and they still will fail to show up. I don't know what it is, but it is hard to get patients to value their dental treatment so that they think it's a priority. Most people are more concerned with what they "see". They don't miss that appointment to go to the tanning bed or get their hair or nails done. Getting a dental prophylaxis can be compared to getting your oil changed in your car. Everyone knows they are supposed to do it every 3,000 miles but the majority of the population tend to do it every 5,000-7,000 miles! Some patients don't visit the dentist until something hurts. It's hard to get across to patients that most dental problems won't hurt until it’s too late for prevention. Periodontal disease doesn't "hurt" and decay won’t "hurt" either until it gets closer to the nerve. If it's something not "felt" by the patient, it's hard for some to make it a priority. Most offices have cancellation policies. It's similar to the three strikes and you're out rule. The first time someone confirms an appointment and they don't show up, they get a written warning with a copy in their chart. The 2nd time they get charged a $50 cancellation fee (this is mentioned when they become new patients and also in the written warning). The 3rd and last time dismisses them from the practice. If you work at an office that has problems with patients not showing up and you do not have a policy like this in place - get one fast! If there is a new patient who fails to show they normally don't get rescheduled with us. Speaking of new patients, they always get mailed the paperwork and are told their appointment is 20 minutes before it really is. This prevents them taking twenty minutes out of your time with competing insurance, reading office policies, finding your office, and filling out the paperwork (most seem to forget to bring it with them). This also works with patients who are usually late. Give them an appointment at 9:00am and tell them it's at 8:40am. Odds are they will arrive at 8:50. Also, always keep an organized short-call list. Patients might want a certain time of the day and on a certain day of the week. Add this to the list and when something opens on you schedule you won't have a hard time filling it.

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