While the American Dental Association states that patients should visit their dentist at “intervals determined by a dentist,” the accepted standard is every six months. Why? You can put the conspiracy theories away. Six months is a nice round number that patients can remember and dentists can work with. In an ideal world, every man, woman, and child would remember to see their dentist every six months. Doing so allows patients to stay ahead of gum disease and other dental problems.
Dentists and oral health professionals know that even this minimal goal is often not met. There are oral health consequences for patients who infrequently visit their dentist, and there are financial drawbacks for doctors. The twice-a-year visits do more than draw a steady cash flow. Regular visits allow doctors to cultivate and maintain important relationships with patients.
Tips for Boosting Dental Recall Scheduling
If you are having trouble reminding your patients to take dental visits seriously, these proven tips can boost foot traffic and earnings for your dental practice.
- Snag patients before they leave: This sounds easy, but some offices let patients return home without scheduling their next visit. A verbal reminder, reminder card, follow-up call, and email are your best bet for motivating wayward patients to return for that all-important return visit.
- Explain why preventative visits are important: As a dentist or oral healthcare professional, you understand how important preventative treatments are. Patients care about that too, and they also care about saving money. A simple, “We hope to see you again in six months so I can check on the health of your gums. If we don’t see you again soon, and if you develop periodontal disease, we may need to schedule a deep cleaning.”
- Post a sign: A friendly sign on the inside of your front door can remind patients to schedule their next visit. Stop signs tend to be attention-grabbing.
- How effective are your phone calls?: Calling during the day makes sense. After all, that’s when your receptionist has time to send reminder calls. Daytime calls may not be the best for your patients, though. If they receive a call during work, they are unlikely to answer it, and not everyone promptly checks their voicemail. While we’re on the topic of phone calls, it helps if your patients actually know what your office number is. Taking a minute to remind them to save your office’s number could mean the difference between an answered call or (gulp) relegation to voice message #17.
- When all else fails, bribe ’em: No, we’re not talking about cold hard cash here. Each office can decide how to reward frequent visitors. If your patient visits twice within a year for check-ups, a gift back of toothpaste and oral hygiene tools can make for a welcome surprise.
- Be honest about dental problems: There’s little benefit to leaving your patients with an, “Everything looks great.” Finding a way to gently but firmly remind patients that they have risk factors for dental problems or unaddressed dental issues that may need treatments allows you to be honest while incentivizing return visits.
- Delegate a team member to follow-up with patients: In the hustle and bustle of dental office life, things get left undone. One way to ensure that your dental recall numbers are always steady is to delegate a team member to oversee scheduling. The team member can also be in charge of ensuring that policies for promoting return visits (signage, calls, scheduling) are consistently enforced.
Learn More About Dental Recall From Our Team of Experts
Are you struggling to run an efficient and profitable dental practice? Dental Practice Enhancement can help you recover uncollected insurance money. We also train dental teams on how to be more efficient in processing insurance claims as well as other administrative tasks. One of our team members can be reached by calling (833) 373-3678 (extention one).