The end of the year is near. In today’s blog you will read how to get your dental hygiene patients to return now.
Summer is coming to an end. The kids are going back to school. Parents are busy with work, back-to-school shopping and it seem there is not time to visit the dental office
Many of your dental patients haven’t scheduled necessary dental treatment for themselves or their family.
Most dental benefits will not roll over to the next year and that means you are wasting insurance benefits for your patients.
Now is the time to try and help your patients maximize their dental insurance coverage. Many of your patients are overdue for a routine hygiene appointment.
August is the best time to be looking over your list of overdue hygiene patients and also patients with outstanding treatment.
Every month of each year, plan a day to run a report of overdue hygiene patients. Mark your calendar to run this report the first week of each month.
At this point in the year, it is crucial to focus on contacting your overdue hygiene patients as well as get patients to return who have unscheduled treatment to complete.
How do you contact your patients?
It is important to contact your patients in a way that creates a quick response.
With today’s world of technology, you may notice that most people don’t pick up their phone (of not often), they don’t check their personal emails throughout the day and not many people go to their mailbox to pick up their mail each day.
We suggest that you have the ability to two-way text all of your patients.
To begin the two-way texting, you need to have the technology connected to your practice management software.
We recommend SolutionReach to our clients because not only does this company offer two-way texting, but you can add a link for your patients to click which will allow them to immediately schedule their appointment.
What does your text message say?
You will at the very least want to text all overdue patients with only a sentence that says, please call our office about your dental appointment.
We have found this works very well for patients to call your office and especially when they know they don’t have an appointment.
Once the patient does call they will most likely let you know, “I don’t have an appointment.”
Your response will sound like this:
“Mrs. Smith, please let me check your patient record to find out exactly what is happening here. May I put you on a brief hold? This will take me less than ten seconds to check.”
Most patients will be patient enough to wait a few seconds.
Here is the part that may be new to you.
The team of consultants at Dental Practice Solutions, teaches clients this acronym called, R2R.
What does R2R mean?
R2R means “Reason to Return.”
The R2R is a brief description each clinician writes on the last line of the patients record, each time the patient is seen in the office.
This means that the clinician has discussed, communicated, with their patient the reason why they need to return, and that reason will not only be a clinical reason but a benefit to the patient.
If the patient you just took a call from, has a clinical R2R note that states, Pt has bleeding gums, infection around all the back molars and heavy tartar build-up in lower front teeth. Pt has diabetes and I explained that treating gum disease will put a halt to the life-altering challenges of diabetes that can be prevented when their mouth is healthy.
Using the R2R. What to say to the patient.
Once your team of clinicians begin to use the R2R the person answering the phone call will always put a patient who calls about an appointment on a short hold while they check the R2R.
Now that your patient is on the phone, let them know that doctor (and you can include the hygienists’ who last saw the patient) is concerned about their health. Explain that last time they saw doctor and hygienist they had infection in their gums and this can make their diabetes worse which causes other serious health problems. Let the patient know it is extremely important to complete the gum treatment because now we know this will help improve their diabetes.
What do we do if we have not used the R2R?
If you are reading about the R2R for the first time, when you look at a patients’ record, there will not be an R2R and I suggest that you have each of your team members learn about this.
Please contact our office and a dental consultant on our team will be happy to provide a training for your team. We can offer AGD CE Credits if you like.
Steps to reactivate overdue hygiene patients:
Step 1. Run your reports
- Run an overdue hygiene patient report for the past 6 or 12 months.
- If you don’t usually run this report monthly you will want to go back at least 12 months when you begin running this report.
Step 2. Send a text message
- Use your patient engagement software (Ex. SolutionReach) to contact overdue hygiene patients
- Your first text message should only say “Please call our office today about your dental appointment.”
Step 3. In one week for the patients who have not responded to your text message, send them an email.
- In your email you can now include your scheduling link, so these patients can easily click the link to schedule their hygiene appointment.
- Your email message can be customized with each patients’ name, but the same email goes out to every patient who needs a dental hygiene appointment.
- As a dental consultant I have learned that people respond more favorably to this email when you offer them an incentive to return for their appointment.
- We know that free tray whitening works well when attempting to get overdue hygiene patients back to your office.
- You can also use other special offers to motivate patients to return such as money of Invisalign.
Step 3. Understand the specific type of appointment needed.
When you do have patients calling to schedule their appointment, be sure to look at their patient record to understand what type of appointment they need.
Step 4. Begin using the R2R.
- All clinicians must make this part of their patient record.
- When a patient calls to schedule or change an appointment, the front office person answering the patient call, will look up the R2R so they know exactly what the patient needs to schedule for (Ex. Prophy, x-rays and doctor exam, etc.) can speak to the patient about the necessary service and value/benefits for scheduling.
- This R2R can and should be used every time a patient calls to change a dental appointment. Use the value and benefit to the patient to get them to keep their appointment not change it.
The number 1 focus this month needs to be contacting all patients who need to return this year for a hygiene appointment.
Need help implementing the R2R or any other systems?
We are here to help you! Call us to find out how to get training virtually or in-office. We are here to help! Your team will receive AGD CE Credits with any training we complete for you. Contact us today.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office: 949-351-8741
Next week I will return with information to contact patients with outstanding treatment. I will also write about how overcome this big challenge of patients leaving without scheduling their important restorative care.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Debbie Seidel-Bittke is the CEO of Dental Practice Solutions and has over 15 years of business and consulting experience, as well as 30 plus years of working knowledge as a dental professional.
Having the unique ability to understand dentists’ need, Debbie can help each dental practice grow to be efficient and profitable. The growth occurs by optimizing your dental hygiene department. She has a team of experts that will work in the other areas of your dental practice as necessary. Debbie’s insight allows her to effectively communicate and implement success strategies while strategically addressing productivity challenges in the dental practice.
As a dental hygiene business coach, a former clinician and educator, she is adept at collaborating with dentists and their team to incorporate her expertise to see a dental practice grow to levels beyond their imagination. Debbie and her team of experts will increase the profitability of each dental practice. This year, 2018, no client of Dental Practice Solutions will increase production less than $125,000 and without working more days in the office. Ask us how you can be next to do this!