During the last few months, the world of dentistry has changed dramatically. Patients have televisits, no longer wait in your lobbies, and many appointments are cancelled out of fear of contracting COVID-19. How do dental practices handle recall? What can practices do now to prepare for the upcoming months where dental recare appointments have been thrown oﬀ schedule? How can practices attract not only their loyal customers, but customers that are past due for dental hygiene? According to Dental Economics¹ only 17% of dentists said that most of their active patients receive hygiene treatment every six months, meaning only a few people get early diagnosis or mere preventive care.
The Cost of Not Prioritizing Dental Recall
Moreover, with increasing competition and opening of multiple dental practices, it is very hard to keep a patient coming back. According to CallForce’s internal customer data, dental practices have on average 15-18% patient attrition per year. The cost of this attrition may shock you.
Putting it simply, it means if you have 3,000 patients actively coming to your clinic, you end up losing about 500 patients annually. According to American Dental Association, the value of a dental patient is $553 a year. In short, that is $276,500 loss per year. It means losing a single patient can cost a dentist a signiﬁcant loss and actually hinder the growth of your practice. This is where the importance of dental recall plan comes in handy.
The problem here is that, many dental practices don’t have reliable dental recall plans. Oﬃce managers and front desk staﬀ are some of the busiest people in your practice. According to CallForce’s internal data it takes on average 21 points of contact to schedule a patient who is overdue for a recare appointment. Calling patients who are overdue for treatment is hard work and in many cases demoralizing. It understandably is something that often falls to the bottom of the to-do list.
How to Effectively Schedule Recare Appointments
It can be overwhelming to add an additional component to your practice marketing strategy and it is an investment when funds everywhere are in short supply.
However, a good dental recall plan will pay dividends without costing much up front.
A good recall plan not only reminds your patients of their appointments, but also attracting patients who are egregiously overdue for recall. If your dental recall is not accomplishing both of these goals, then it is not working well. These 4 strategies are key to evaluating and creating an eﬀective dental recall plan.
It Takes More Than One Reminder
A recall plan should be able to remind multiple times before the appointment. Sending a text message or a reminder postcard will not work for patients who are not dedicated to their own dental hygiene. It takes more perseverance. Schedule time to contact your overdue patients at least once a month to set a recall appointment.
Focus On The Immediate Gaps
Dental recall patients are the most likely to cancel appointments last minute. However, if you’re able to schedule them for a shorter wait time between when the appointment is scheduled and when it occurs the show rate is exponentially higher.
Call After Business Hours
According to CallForce’s internal data, phone calls looking to schedule recare appointments are nearly 3 times as likely to schedule appointments than those that schedule during business hours. The same data holds true for weekend phone calls. If your employees cannot make these phone calls after hours, look for a call center specializing in dental practices to help.
Focus on Severely Past-Due Patients
Patients who are more than one year past due are at risk for severe dental health problems. A 2012 study by the CDC showed that an estimated 47.2% of adults over age 30 suﬀered from untreated periodontal disease². Educating patients that regular recare appointments can prevent these treatments is good, but does not remove the likelihood that they actively have periodontal disease.
Scheduling these patients not only helps prevent severe health problems caused by poor oral health, but on average they are much more likely to have untreated conditions that will increase your practice’s revenue.
This tip does not mean to be predatory on patients who are past due. It is meant to highlight that while your non-regular patients are more diﬃcult to schedule, they are much more likely to have undiagnosed periodontal disease which your practice can help treat.
Recall visits solidify your practice as a patient’s dental home where they can come not only when they need routine care for their family but also as a place to turn to when they have more serious dental concerns or urgent problems.
REFERENCES ¹https://www.dentaleconomics.com/practice/article/16388055/researchreport-the-state-of-hygiene-in-todays-practices ²https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm