How many times have you told one of your close friends that you would “keep in touch” or that you would “give them a call so you can get together for lunch”? Your patient relationships are really no different. It is easy for patients to think in the same manner. Keep in mind, when a patient commits to your practice they are relying on you to be the gatekeeper for their oral health. So how do you keep track of who is overdue for care and how do you get patients back into your hygiene program?
Ensuring your recare due dates are updated every time a patient is in for hygiene is key. Otherwise, how can you tell who is current and who is overdue? The next step is to print a report of patients who were due for hygiene two months ago. That will give your team two important pieces of data: the number of patients on that list and which patients they can contact to bring into current status. Do the same for patients due six months and 12 months ago. Keeping in regular contact with your patients will support your philosophy of care and let them know you are concerned about their health. Document in your practice management software when you’ve made the contact and the results of the call. This will allow all team members to be involved in the process and to serve the higher purpose of decreasing the number of overdue patients.
How will you know if this strategy is working? The easiest way is to listen for signs during your morning huddle. You should be hearing the names of patients you have not seen in a while. Discuss patients scheduled today in the restorative chairs who are overdue for hygiene and the action plan to educate patients on the importance of being seen regularly. It typically takes “an eye to eye and knee to knee” conversation with the patient about the importance of regular care so they start back on the right foot.
A proactive approach from you and your team will help to avoid patients becoming overdue at all. Building value for the patient’s next appointment by describing the reason for your six-month recommendation will help influence that patient’s decision to keep the reserved appointment. A simple nudge such as, “Mrs. Smith, I am concerned about the area on the upper left and recommend we see you in six months to re-evaluate,” will support your recommendation for care and help Mrs. Smith keep her reserved hygiene appointment.
OnTrack offers resources that will help implement this strategy and train new language skills with your team. Go to www.pattersondental.com for more information or speak to your Patterson representative about how to sign up to use OnTrack in your practice.