To insure the viability of the practice, at least 85% to 90% of the patients should leave the office with an appointment or a future recall date. Why not schedule 100% of the patients? Not every patient should be pre-scheduled because they can't be trusted to keep the appointment. This is why it is important to look at the number of previous broken appointments before scheduling. If they tend to break appointments, they are not likely to keep one scheduled 6 months in the future. Good control will help you reach your goals.
As the hygienist finishes his/her patient he/she should pre-schedule the patients that keep appointments for their next hygiene visit. The hygienist or scheduler will print the appointment card for the patient, showing the date and time of their next visit.
If the patient tends to break a lot of appointments, you will tell them that they will receive a card, email and/or text when it is time to come in. Ask them how they can be reached during the day so you can call and reach them in the future. This works a lot better because you can now fill the schedule with more reliable patients and get these patients in when you are attempting to fill the schedule for the next day or same day.
For those you do preschedule, verbal skills are key to getting the patient to agree to and keep that next appointment. The importance of returning and visiting the office regularly should be stressed to the patient by the hygienist. They have to see the value in the appointment. Some sample dialogs:
1) “Let’s go ahead and schedule your next appointment with me, in 6 months. We need to get you back here to check your gums and keep them healthy. Would this same time of day be good for you?”
2) “I’d like to put you down on my schedule now, for your 6 month visit. I want to watch your gums; your next appointment is important.”
3) “I’m going to schedule your next visit with me in 6 months. You are doing well and we want to keep maintaining your mouth on a regular basis, so it stays healthy.”
An effective recall system will increase the production and stability of a dental office. Be aware of who you are saving the valuable time in the schedule for.