3 steps for reactivating overdue patients

March 8, 2012
Imagine what having 98% of your patients scheduled would mean for your levels of production and revenue. Dr. Roger Levin takes you through three easy steps to help you gain a full hygiene schedule again.

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Many practices are missing a critical opportunity to increase production without adding a single new patient. By establishing a step-by-step system to reengage patients who have not been seen in at least nine months, practices are able to increase production significantly.

A phone call, text message, email, or note prompting patients to make an appointment not only leads to higher production, but it also creates value and demonstrates that you care.

Having 98% of patients scheduled for appointments — the Levin Group target — is an achievable goal if dentists implement the following system in their practices:

Step 1: Identify who is overdue.

In the next 30 days, team members should compile electronic reports on overdue patients. If that is not possible, pull charts manually and look for:

  • Overdue recare
  • Unfinished treatment
  • Unaccepted treatment plans

Step 2: Call patients.

  • Have staff members with excellent phone skills make the calls.
  • Start with the patients most recently overdue.
  • Time the calls when patients can be reached — either at work during the day (if you have permission) or in the early evening.
  • Call when the practice can offer appointments within two weeks.
  • Use a script to ensure consistency and effectiveness. Example:
Hello, Mr. Jones, how are you? Dr. Smith is very concerned that you’re overdue for your hygiene appointment and oral cancer prevention screening. It’s been more than a year since we’ve seen you. We have an appointment available for you on the 26th at 10 a.m. or the 28th at 2 p.m. Which would work better for you?
  • If the patient agrees, schedule the appointment.
  • If the patient declines, call back in three to four weeks.
  • Make a note in the patient’s computer file.
  • Follow up with a call as promised.
  • If the patient does not respond, send a letter or email.

Step 3: Deactivate if necessary.

Despite a team’s best efforts, sometimes a practice must deactivate a patient. If this occurs, the practice must appropriately document the patient’s status based on state laws.


Imagine what having 98% of your patients scheduled would mean for your levels of production and revenue. Activating overdue patients is an essential step in that direction, and practices that do it routinely will maximize their production potential. Follow these three steps and gain a full hygiene schedule once again.

To learn how to run a more profitable, efficient, and satisfying practice, visit the Levin Group Resource Center at www.levingroup.com/gp — a free online resource with tips, videos, and other valuable information. You can also connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (Levin_Group) for learning strategies and sharing ideas.

Author bio
Dr. Roger Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the chairman and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., the largest dental practice management and marketing firm in the United States. As a leading authority on dental practice management and marketing, he has developed the scientific systems-based consulting method that will increase practice production and profitability, while lowering stress. Dr. Levin has authored more than 60 books and over 3,000 articles. He presents 100 seminars worldwide each year.