Attracting a new patient most likely costs you five times as much when you can keep an existing patient. One of the best systems you can have in place is the continuing care system. This will eliminate you chasing down valuable patients and it will keep them returning, on a regular basis, for their valuable dental hygiene – preventive care appointments.
Investing your time and effort in a continuing care, patient retention strategy is not just a good idea but it will keep your practice profits consistent and decrease the amount of time and money spent chasing after patients. Never assume that an inactive patient won’t return to your practice. Many patients appreciate the time you will take to to reconnect with them. People want to feel important and that you care about them. Start with your most current overdue patient list. This is a report you can very easily generate from your computer of all patients past due for continuing care in the past 18 months. Provide reasons and the benefits of why your inactive patients need to return ASAP.
1. Sending the Letter
Once you have sent a postcard to let the patient know they have not scheduled their hygiene appointment, within the next three months send a direct mail letter to every patient who is overdue for a hygiene appointment. In your letter provide information about the oral health/systemic health link, oral cancer, the importance of ongoing professional dental care and how much your value their overall health. This is the perfect chance to educate patients about new techniques, technology and services available in your office, options for achieving that sought after smile and include continuing education programs your team has completed that will benefit the patient.
2. Financial Challenges
Many patients are experiencing financial challenges today so educate them about your various financing options for payment.
When you have a relationship with patient financing companies it will make treatment more affordable and more likely for your patients to proceed with both necessary and elective dental treatment. Let your overdue and current patients know about your patient financing options available. Let patients old and new know that your office will provide financing so your patients receive the type of dental care they want and need.
3. Pre-schedule Continuing Care
Make every attempt to schedule the next hygiene appointment in the hygiene room at the end of the hygiene appointment. My experience shows that when patients are not pre-scheduled at least 60% of your time will be spent chasing down your active patient base. It is important for the hygienist to educate all of the patients about the value and benefits of preventive care. This is how everyone will live a longer and healthier life! Have you ever met someone who didn’t want to live a longer and healthier life? Neither have I!
There is no doubt that without optimal oral health our total health can and will most likely fail. The philosophy of every dental practice today should include the science about oral health and the relationship it plays in our overall health. When patients understand you care enough about their total health and not just their almighty dollar they are most likely to sit up, listen, schedule their dental appointments and refer their friends and family to your dental office. This is what creates improved patient care and healthy profits to your dental practice!
4. Daily Patient Calls
Decide each day who can make calls to patients. When the hygienist has a cancellation, he/she plays a valuable role in contacting overdue patients.
- Create a goal to call a specific number of overdue hygiene patients.
- Create a goal to schedule a specific number of appointments.
- Create a blocked schedule ensuring that each hygienist achieves a specific daily production goal.
- Establish treatment plan goals and monitor your scheduled treatment each day.
- Each month monitor your continuing care report.
- Ask a front office auxiliary to provide a monthly continuing care success and strategy report at the team meeting.
- Throughout the year plan to assess, strategize and create reasons for your inactive patients to return for your services again.
Many times when you make contact with an overdue patient they have no idea it has been that long since their last hygiene appointment. Surprising but so true. My how time passes so quickly!
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