Chasing after past-due dental patients with postcards and phone calls is time consuming, and the effort is a reminder of how important it is to schedule people way before it gets to this point. No one can help this effort quite like the hygienists.
The hygiene team can take charge of their schedules by guiding patients to schedule for their next visit while they still have them in the chair. No one carries more weight than the hygienists when it comes to scheduling recall. However, some hygienists are only marginally effective at scheduling recall because they fail to guide patients into the schedule.
Consider what happens when you ask, “Do you want to schedule for your next visit in six months?” First you answer the yes/no question in your head, and then you start thinking about if it’s worth the trouble of deciding what you might be doing in six months. Too many times this leads to patients walking out of the operatory without their next visits scheduled.
When hygiene teams shift their phraseology to guide patients into schedule, resistance is greatly reduced. Instead of asking if the dental patient wants to schedule, the hygienists say, “Let’s get you scheduled for your next cleaning in six months. How about the first Tuesday in July at this same time?” By guiding the patient, you’ve made it so much easier. There is no yes/no question to ponder, and you’ve offered the patient a day and time to consider. Patient acceptance is much higher with this approach.
Recall systems are the most effective when they are reminder programs for scheduled visits instead of monumental efforts to track down patients who are not scheduled. One way to make your recall program even stronger is to have your hygiene team guide patients to schedule for their next visit before they leave the chair.