While absence might make the heart grow fonder in some facets of life, time tends to work against us when it comes to things that we are not so naturally inclined to remain dedicated to, however well intending we may be. We have all been in a store, office, or meeting that had us motivated to proceed with what seemed to be an essential decision at the time, but then we were given the option to think about it, and we became distracted. Soon our resources were allocated to something we wanted even more, and our time became too valuable to look backwards, especially if we were not quickly reminded to revisit the matter.
When a patient leaves the office without scheduling treatment, delaying or declining a follow-up appointment becomes much more likely. The sense of urgency to dedicate time and money to an important, albeit non-life-saving procedure was comfortably left behind for the time being. This can still be easily remedied by ensuring that the patient is promptly followed up with and reminded of the value of the outstanding appointment. It is highly recommended to follow up on unscheduled treatment within 48-72 hours of the treatment plan being presented. Even though being permitted to leave without scheduling a follow-up appointment might have temporarily made the matter seem like less of a priority, a reminder soon after brings the importance of staying on top of dental heath back to the forefront of a patient’s mind.
To ensure that patients are accepting treatment and returning in a timely manner, be sure that your office has clear plans regarding who is responsible for following up on unscheduled treatment, and that the methods used for follow-up are swift and effective. It is helpful for hygienists and assistants to always be mindful of who in their chair might have remaining treatment, followed by a friendly status discussion with the doctor. The administrative team’s key contribution is reaching out to patients who have already left unscheduled within the ideal timeframe.
Once days become weeks, a patient’s motivation and enthusiasm about their dental needs can easily become lost in life’s shuffle. To avoid reducing this sense of importance for your patients’ follow-up care, make it a point to remain a welcomed priority before their list grows.
Patterson offers resources for case presentation, follow-up tracking and team member support within OnTrack. Go to www.myontrack.com or ask your Patterson representative for more information and how to sign up to use OnTrack in your practice.