If your office is like most, your practice management system is home to several hundred dormant patients who haven’t stepped foot in your office for over 24 months. They’re your ghost patients, and the uncaptured revenue they represent is one of the biggest growth opportunities there is in your practice right now.
The good news is, even the most invisible of ghost patients can be reactivated by offering an incentive they’ll find too tempting to resist. The trick is to play around with a variety of offers that one by one capture handfuls of patients at a time. Here at RevenueWell, where we help an average customer reactivate 2-3 patients every month through automatic messaging, we’ve had a bit of time to play around with different incentives. Here are a few that work pretty consistently regardless of your size, practice type or location:
1. In-office Whitening
Everyone knows this one works. Whether you’re offering a discount, lifetime service, or a series of treatments, whitening works because it appeals to the patients’ “wants” instead of “needs.” Remember, they’ve probably already ignored your needs-based recall messaging for the last 18 months.
2. Oral-B, et al.
Electronic toothbrushes convert well because patients easily grasp the dollar value of the offer. And, trust us, if your offer arrives in the inbox or mailbox of a patient who has often considered purchasing one, but hasn’t seen you in a while, you’re going to have a winner on your hands.
3. Discounted “Welcome Back” Package
A discounted package that includes an exam, X-rays and cleaning is a tremendous way to get patients to return to your practice. With a system like RevenueWell, you can even create different incentives for patients with or without insurance – so insurance patients don’t end up thinking this long overdue visit will actually cost them anything. Private pay patients, on the other hand, really appreciate a lower cost “Let’s get back on track” appointment – and this incentive always pays for itself in future restorative work.
4. Patient Financing
Taking care of one’s health isn’t always affordable. By letting patients know about new financing partnerships your office may have with companies like CareCredit, or about financing options you offer in-house, you’ll be able to capture those patients who want to see you, but have been putting things off because of cost concerns.
5. Skip the Patient Offer and Pay Your Staff Instead
Sometimes the best incentive for recapturing dormant patients isn’t one you offer the patient, but one you offer your staff. So, why not motivate your staff members with a cash bonus for every patient they personally reactivate? Here’s how it could work: split up your dormant patient list among those interested in participating, and have staff call dormant patients. The call should just be about updating a patient’s contact information. Once reached by phone, the staff member could ask if the patient had any health concerns, and if they were interested in seeing the doctor. An effort like this is best used once you’ve whittled down your dormant patient list with direct mail, email and text campaigns. Sometimes, such an effort can tell you whether you need to mark a patient as inactive as well. It’s a fun way to rally the team, and can help you eke out every last bit of data you need to uncover about your patient list. Oh, and one last suggestion! If you want to really win over your staff, toss in a smaller incentive even if all they’re able to get out of a patient is that they’ve switched to another doctor, moved or don’t ever want to see a dentist again as long as they live. That kind of info is precious too, and you shouldn’t be bashful in rewarding someone for getting it for you – particularly if for the past 18-24 months you’ve been considering such patients to be active!
There is truly an endless array of ideas you can play with when it comes to patient reactivation. The key is to test: start with just one offer, see how it works, then try to mix it up to see if an alternative converts any better. A patient communication solution like RevenueWell makes measuring success easy, so experiment away!