Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2018 12 Cancel Appointment 1

Make recall a priority in your dental practice and reap these benefits

Dec. 4, 2018
A good recall system in dental practices has proven to reduce cancellations and no-shows. Here's how to get that system in place.
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management
Focusing on recall is a great way to grow practice production and revenues, yet many dentists just don’t make it a priority. Instead, they choose to ignore this critical system—and this is damaging their practices.

If you’re one of these dentists, it’s time to make some changes. Low patient retention rates and lackluster production numbers are both symptoms of a weak recall system, and neither are doing anything to help move your practice forward. Revamping recall will bring new life to your practice, and will get you on track toward finally meeting your full potential.

Still not convinced the recall system is worth your attention? Read on for more benefits your practice will reap once you decide to make recall a priority.

You’ll develop a larger patient base

If you’re only sending generic post cards to your recall patients, it’s not doing much to get them in the chair. They’re likely putting those cards in their files right after they arrive in the mail, rather than being inspired to call and make an appointment. Hiring a patient coordinator and empowering this person to reenergize the recall system, however, will do wonders for growing your patient base. Task this team member with calling and scheduling a certain number of recall patients every day. You’ll soon find patient retention rates will finally start to hover around 85% to 95%, which is where you need to be to build a successful and profitable practice.

You’ll notice more new patients thanks to referrals

When your patient coordinator reaches out to patients on the recall list, he or she should take the time to educate patients about why it’s so important to keep their dental appointments. This extra effort will show them you care about their well-being, and that makes them more likely to schedule an appointment and to refer others. They’ll feel more connected to your practice, which could prompt them to talk you up to family and friends, especially if they have exceptional experiences during their visits.

You’ll reduce broken appointments

Nobody in your office wants to deal with last-minute cancellations and no-shows, but if your recall system is broken I can pretty much guarantee this is a regular occurrence in your practice. These broken appointments not only lead to stress, they cost you money. Lots of money.

Part of the problem stems from the fact many practices still rely on pre-appointing patients six months out. Patients schedule an appointment, then cancel at the last minute when something else they deem more important comes up. Or, they simply forget.

Pre-appointing also makes it look like your schedule is full, which makes it easier to ignore the recall system. Problem is, the schedule really isn’t full. Remember those cancellations and no-shows? They leave gaping holes in your schedule that patients who were ready to move forward with treatment could have used. To make matters worse, many of these patients likely opted to schedule with other offices when they were told they had to wait weeks or even months to see the doctor because of a “full” schedule.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Sally, I’ve scheduled patients this way for years.” The good news is that I’m not telling you to give up pre-appointing entirely. I suggest you implement a hybrid system instead. Schedule reliable patients who have a history of keeping their appointments, and flag patients who are known to flake out. Let these patients know you’ll contact them to schedule a few weeks before they’re due. They’ll have a better idea of what their schedules will be, making them less likely to bail at the last minute. Not only will you deal with fewer broken appointments, you’ll have more room in the schedule for patients who are ready to move forward with treatment.

You’ll see practice production numbers rise

The more patients you have in the chair, the more opportunities you’ll have to diagnose problems and offer treatment recommendations. When you make recall a priority, patients who were once inactive will be back on the schedule, boosting productivity numbers and your bottom line.

You’ll notice a difference in your team members

Constantly dealing with broken appointments can be pretty deflating, as is knowing the practice is struggling to keep patients and meet production goals. Morale gets a boost when there are more patients on the schedule. Team members are able to do more to contribute to practice success, and this goes a long way toward improving job satisfaction.

If your practice is struggling, ignoring your recall system could be partly to blame. Making recall a priority will help take your practice from struggling to thriving, and it starts with hiring a patient coordinator. This person will educate your patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health, and will help the practice trade generic recall reminders for more sophisticated materials that will prompt patients to make appointments.

Ready to get started? Give me a call. I’m happy to help.

Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nation-wide dental practice management company. Contact her at (877) 777-6151 or at [email protected].
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About the Author

Sally McKenzie | CEO of McKenzie Management

Sally McKenzie was CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. For over 30 years, Sally immersed herself in techniques, systems, and methods to improve the performance of dental practices. She was a dental auxiliary, dental business administrator, and dental educator for several years prior to founding McKenzie Management in 1980.

Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.