Let’s start off by defining the term Dental Recall or recall appointments. Recall visits are regularly-scheduled checkup appointments to help dentists have an ongoing knowledge of the status of their patients. These visits are vital to both practice and patient. The more often patients meet with their doctor, the better care their doctor can provide. The frequency of appointments is determined by each doctor and usually coincides with a hygienist visit.

Definition of a dental recall system: a system put in place by a dental office in order to support the proper continuing care of their patients. A recall system can include text messages, emails, and even phone calls to help patients make and keep appointments that will keep their teeth healthy. Many dental offices use automated text messages and emails for their recall system, while others still call each patient individually.

When It Comes to Dental Recall Appointments, The Questions is Not Why, but How

Emphasizing the necessity of getting patients in the door would be pointless. If your patients aren’t coming in for their visits, your practice is probably struggling. Every practice is fully aware of that. Let’s move on and dive into a bunch of great ideas that will hopefully spark some new business.

Learn how Weave’s automated reminder system helps make your recall more successful. 

1. Get The Appointment Before They Leave

This one is pretty simple and I’m sure 99% of you do this already, but this article would be incomplete if we didn’t mention it. Before a patient leaves your office, make sure they have an appointment in their calendar. This simple commitment will make a MASSIVE difference if you’re not utilizing it already. What if they say, “I don’t know my schedule right now”? Go ahead and book it, and tell them that you can adjust this when you reach out to confirm their appointment in 6 months. That way they are expecting you to reach out and “remind them” and it is not an intrusion.

2. Attack From All Fronts

Everyone has a different preferred method of communication. Data shows that text messages have the best read and response rates, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to talk via that medium. To see the best success try asking each patient if they prefer calling, emailing, or texting. Make a note in the Practice Management System or Patient Communication System about the patient’s preferred method of communication.

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3. Remind Patients How Regular Attendance May Be The Cheapest Solution

Big procedures cost big money. Quite a few issues can be resolved if a patient simply comes in on a regular basis. You know this – but does your patient? Try emphasizing this fact at the end of each visit.

4. Put This Sign On Your Office Door

Print out this free sign and put it on the inside of your office door. You’ll be surprised how many people actually stop and think twice about leaving without an appointment.

5. A Little Bonus Goes A Long Way

Try giving out a small bonus to the front office staff member that can schedule the most recall appointments during a given month. You’d be amazed what a little financial incentive can do in terms of front office motivation and productivity.

6. When Are You Making Your Phone Calls?

Many offices only call their patients during office hours. For most working adults, it’s inconvenient for them to pick up while they are in the office. If you leave a voicemail, odds are they won’t call you back. Consider having someone in your office call patients in the evening or on weekends when they are actually able to pick up the phone.

7. Ask Patients To Save Your Office Number In Their Phone

Spam calls are happening all the time. Most people refuse to pick up their phone if it comes from an unknown number. Even though you’re not a spammer, you’ll find that your patients pick up your calls less and less in the upcoming months and years. Try asking your patient during their next appointment to save your phone number on their cell phone. This not only makes it easier for them to call you when they have a question, but also drastically increases the likelihood of people picking up your calls.

Want to see how Weave can help you?

Weave Helps Streamline Business Communication

"Amazing technology has simplified our patient communication immensely! We are fairly new and can't wait to learn even more Weave features... customer service and tech support is SPOT ON and can't be beat! " - Weave Customer

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8. Incentivize Patients To Come In For Every Visit

Some offices will offer their patients free whitening for life as long as they keep up with their recall appointments. Free whitening may not be the right offer for your practice, but you get the idea. People love free stuff, but they hate losing it even more.

9. Remind Early And Often

After you’ve gone through all the effort of getting your patient to schedule an appointment make sure they don’t forget. Life is busy and even if they have it in their calendar, that’s not a guarantee that they will show up. Send out a confirmation at least two weeks before the appointment. After the confirmation, remind the patient a couple of times before their appointment. Find a happy balance between ample reminders and being too annoying.

10. Build Value In Your Appointments

You’re just about to finish a visit with your patient. You have their undivided attention. Now is a great opportunity to explain why it is important that your patient comes back for their next visit. This is overly simple, but frequently overlooked.

11. Avoid “Everything Looks Great”

If all you say when visiting a patient is “everything looks great” they may not see a reason to come back next time. Make sure you are completely honest, but be a little more descriptive than a one liner. Discuss any trouble spots and what to watch out for. Explain common things that occur with people their age. Go into detail and they will see why they should come back the next time around.

12. Invest In An Automated Dental Recall Solution

Rather than just sending out postcards and crossing your fingers, we recommend that you invest in a automated reminder and recall system. These systems can make life easier on your front office staff and make sure none of your patients slip through the cracks. These recall systems also offer text messaging and other features that help you communicate with patients in a more effective manner than postcards or phone calls.

13. Simple Call To Action

One principal in marketing is to make sure that your audience always knows what you want them to do. When sending out recall reminders, make sure that there is a simple way to get their appointment scheduled. The less steps between your reminder and them setting up their appointment – the more likely they’ll reschedule.

14. Have One Person In Charge Of Recall

The front office has so much to do and recall may not be at the top of the list. You may consider having one person on your staff focusing 100% on recall. Set goals, talk about expectations and have them work on improving their results. Holding one person accountable for recalls can have a huge pay off.

15. Birthday Reminders And Other Important Life Events

Not every interaction you have with your patient has to be revolving around their oral health. Interacting with them outside of their regular visits can build a real relationship. A little bit of thought can go a long ways. You can find software solutions that will help streamline these types of outreach and relationship building.

16. Follow Up Survey

Feedback is always a good thing. Sending a quick follow up after a visit is a natural opportunity to ask them when they can come back. Feedback + recall appointment = win win.

17. Schedule The Whole Family At Once

Families may have a hard time getting each member into your office on a separate days. Try getting several family members to come into the office at the same time and make life for them a lot easier. It’s also harder for one person to back out of their appointment if they know the rest of the family is going in.

One final note. No two dental practices look the same. Each geographic region and set of patients is so unique that there is no perfect formula for growing a practice. The best results come from experimenting with a few ideas and seeing the results. Keep on testing and keep on growing.

Keep up the good work!

You may have guessed it, but Weave helps thousands of practices with their recall success. We’d love to show you a demo of how it works. Fill out the short form below to see how Weave could be a good fit for your practice.