There are things you can control…and there are things you can’t control.
What you “can control” is how to improve your continuing care and (somewhat) its ups-and-downs.
As you’re aware the challenge of keeping the hygiene schedule full and current is common. But that reality doesn’t make dealing with it easier.
The struggle is real (but so is the solution)
How you manage continuing care can make or break your schedule consistency. Perhaps “consistent” is too demanding although it’s a worthy target.
Hitting the target requires a systematic strategy for your continuing care.
- A patient recall strategy
- A patient recovery strategy
- A patient reactivation strategy
According to Wendy Briggs, RDH, President and CEO of Hygiene Diamonds, systems help you “fill your hygiene chairs, build patient loyalty and increase hygiene production.” 1
”Strong systems—unique ways of doing tasks in an orderly sequence to achieve desired outcomes—set you up to be successful in your practice.” 2
Let’s explore three solutions to help make that happen.
Three strategies to improve your continuing care
The following strategies might not be new to you. Yet, a reboot could return some consistency to your hygiene schedule however you’ve used or applied them in the past.
1-Upgrade your patient recall
You’re aware that a recall system focuses on patients who are already on the schedule and due for a hygiene appointment. As you re-strategize it’s essential to follow some proven steps beyond the standard stamp-and-mail communication option (though that can factor into the mix as we’ll cover shortly).
Communicate urgency in the moment
The patient right in front of you is more likely to reappoint if you get them on the schedule before they depart. Sure, they might reply that a closer-to-the-date reminder is okay with them.
But it’s best to communicate urgency around:
- The importance of hygiene to their health now and when they’re due for their next visit.
- The timing of schedule availability now rather than postponing it.
Analyze your recalls each month
Your continuing care data is a great source of information about how your systems are working. The six month patient cycle gives you the scope you need.
- Look at total number scheduled
- Divide the number of scheduled patients six months out by the number of patients due for recall.
- Determine your recall effectiveness from the percentage total 3
Communicate with patients due for recall
Again, patient communication can be via mailed postcards, text (SMS), and/or email. A combination based on patient preference is effective.
- Communicate in a conversational tone. Avoid sounding “canned” or like you’re using a template.
- Communicate the benefits of appointment follow-through.
- Communicate via phone (at least one week out from the appointment).
2-Prepare for “break-ups”
Patient relationships can be like personal relationships – break-ups or rather broken appointments can occur. Some are last minute and some are chronic.
Have a “recovery system” in place so you’re not caught short by broken or cancelled appointments.
- Create and work your “ASAP list.” Patients who have said, “Call me when you have an opening,” are prime for filling an open schedule block.
- Look ahead to next week. Same time-same day patients on the schedule might be open to an appointment “today.”
- Search for patient opportunity in the current day’s schedule. A patient appointed for another treatment today might have time and willingness for a hygiene appointment too.
- Work your other (current) lists for patients to contact. A broken appointment list, a recall list, or an unscheduled treatment list could provide a last-minute opportunity to fill the open schedule block.
3-Recover overdue (but not forgotten) patients
The focus here is reactivating those patients who haven’t appointed for 18 months or more. While their reasons vary it’s a good idea to keep this list current and available.
”It takes an average of four or five attempts before you have success in reactivating a patient.” 4
- Be intentional about reconnecting with reactivation patients. Mailed letters, a phone call, a personalized text or email, or an incentive can reestablish connection.
- (Speaking of incentives) Provide a “special offer” that might compel a patient to schedule. A worthwhile “free” incentive could appeal to off-the-grid patients.
- Analyze your patient data for those with a credit balance. Unused funds can help offset costs on elective treatment or other unscheduled treatment (including hygiene).
Again, you can’t control every patient outcome but you can create strategies that give you some measure of control – as in their continuing care.
Explore the following resources to improve your patient relationships around their ongoing dental care:
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