For dental practices that want to grow, adding new patients is very important; however another measure that is equally important is the growth of the recall patient base. Just because you add new patients each year does not mean the recall patient base is growing. Patients leave each year due to insurance, moving, cost, dissatisfaction, etc. In addition, some patients fall out of the recall program and teeter on the cusp of becoming inactive. In order to grow the recall patient base, you need to not only add more new patients than you lose, but you also have to keep patients on the hygiene schedule.
One of the best ways to increase your recall patient base is to have an effective recall program where past due patients are contacted at regular intervals using multiple forms of communication: phone calls, email, text, postcards, etc. In addition, the hygiene team must be committed to scheduling as close to 100% of their patients for recall as possible. Since the hygiene team is the most influential group for guiding past due patients back into the schedule, it is critical for the team to also help with contacting those patients.
The dentist has an important role as well by building value for preventive care. Practices with the strongest hygiene programs have dentists who encourage patients to keep coming in at their recommended recall interval. Proactive practices include preventive care on the treatment plan of every patient who does not have a scheduled hygiene visit.
Remember, if you want patients on the hygiene schedule, you need to make sure you have room in the schedule for them. One reason patients become disconnected from recall and/or leave the practice is they cannot get in within a reasonable period of time for an appointment. If the hygiene schedule is booked out too far, consider adding more hygiene days. Also, leave blocks in the schedule for new patients.
By emphasizing preventive care, you will keep new and existing patients on the hygiene schedule, and the steady growth in the recall patient base will benefit the entire practice.