By Susan Kulakowski, Director of Practice Enhancement
The hygiene department is the backbone of the dental practice and should be at least 33% to 40% of overall practice volume. An effective recare system is the heart of a dental practice. Many practices think their hygiene departments are effective simply because their hygienists are busy.
Use this formula to evaluate the effectiveness of your recare system:
1 Count active patient records.
2 Multiply by two and find the approximate number of recare visits your practice should be seeing annually.
3 Divide by twelve to determine the approximate monthly number of recare visits.
4 Divide this number by the number of days you see patients monthly. This tells you how many recare patients you should be seeing daily.
There are three recare systems:
1 Mail Notice/Call Us. Not a good system! Only 20-30% of patients call to schedule appointments upon receipt of their cards. Patients try to postpone recare intervals. Postage costs escalate sending reminder and confirmation cards and incoming calls create interruptions for business staff.
2 Call, Call and Recall. Also not a good system! Patients are mobile. Having to call and recall patients takes hours of staff time, costs money, and makes the practice look desperate to patients.
3 Pre-appointing Chairside System. Ah, now here’s a solution! Twice as many patients are seen if 90% are pre-appointed. It saves hundreds of hours annually in sending cards, calling and recalling. It is much more professional than continuously calling patients—and there are more benefits:
* There are fewer changed appointments.
* Hygienists have control over their schedule.
* Because hygientists know who their difficult patients are, they don’t schedule them back to back.
* Patients are scheduled for the exact amount of time needed.
In addition to pre-appointing chair-side, your team can use the Internet to keep your practice in front of patients. When pre-appointing, ask each patient how they would like to be reminded of their appointment…by phone, by email or both. Reinforce the value of your hygiene services through oral health blogs posted on your practice Facebook page and other social media.