Does your dental practice struggle with patient engagement and missed appointments? It’s a common problem that can mean poorer outcomes for patients and lower profits for you.

According to one study, scheduling appointments further than 90 days out increases the chance that patients will forget about them. But with a good patient recall strategy, you’re not at the mercy of your patients’ memories. Here’s how you can use a recall list and integrate technology and automation to improve appointment compliance and boost patient retention.

Types of Patient Recall

Below, we’ll explain more about each recall type your clinic may use.


Most of your patients will need a routine checkup at least once a year. You can use recall methods, like letters and emails, to remind patients of routine visits a few weeks in advance.


Sometimes, a patient’s lab work or X-ray results require that you get in touch with them right away. You can use more urgent patient recalls, such as phone calls and text messages, to quickly reach patients and encourage them to return for further care.


If you run a dental practice, you probably recommend that existing patients come for a hygiene appointment every six months. It’s easy for patients to put these cleaning appointments on the back burner, though. That could mean costlier health care for your patients and more work for you.

With a recall strategy, you can prompt patients to schedule preventative care so they’ll never miss a cleaning.


When patients come to you for dental procedures, you may want to schedule a follow-up appointment to check on their healing process. Far too many patients skip the follow-up, either because it’s inconvenient or it simply slips their minds.

By using a recall letter, text, or phone call to recall patients, you can remind them to stay on schedule with their treatment plan.

Methods of Patient Recall

How you choose to reach out to patients matters. What works for one patient won’t work for all of them. That’s why it’s smart to use a variety of different recall methods.

Phone Call

Sometimes, nothing works better to get patients into the office than an old-fashioned phone call. In fact, phone calls have a response rate of a whopping 70%! Don’t worry too much about annoying patients with calls (as long as you don’t overdo it). Most patients will appreciate the heads-up and enjoy knowing that you’re thinking of them.

If your staff doesn’t have time to devote to phone call reminders, consider Weave’s phones and patient engagement software, which sends text reminders for you automatically.


There’s a good chance that your patients check their email at least once per day. Email reminders are a convenient and less-intrusive way to reach out to patients. Plus, your patients can save emails and refer back to them if they forget their appointment date.

Text Message

Few people can resist checking their phones when they hear a new text message notification. If you want a surefire way to grab patients’ attention, text message reminders are the way to go.

Don’t want to send texts manually? Try Weave, which allows you to customize and schedule reminders to go out at any time. Weave lets you customize reminders by:

  • Customer name
  • Day of the week you want to send
  • Appointment date and time
  • Type of appointment

With Weave, patients can confirm whether they’re coming to an appointment with a simple “Yes” or “No.” Weave also features Smart Confirmations, which automatically detect patient sentiment in texts like “I’m coming” or “I’m out of town that week.” You get a recall report that’s easy for you and your staff to understand.

Want to see
more about

Say goodbye to reminder cards and phone tag.

Almost 9 out of 10 customers want to engage via text. Weave’s two-way business texting allows you to communicate with your customers in a way that is easy, simple and accessible.

Schedule Demo


With a patient care recall letter, you can outline everything a patient needs to know about their next visit. Letters also give you a perfect chance to share interesting information about your practice, such as new staff you’ve hired or events you’re going to hold.

Letters give you an opportunity for patient education, too. For instance, you can share tips about how to keep teeth clean and cavity-free between visits.

Patient Portals

Patient portals are a convenient place for patients to find updates and instructions for their next appointment. The date and time will never get lost, and patients can’t accidentally delete the reminder like they could with a text message or email.

However, not every patient will use your portal, and those who do may not check it often enough to see appointment reminders in time. It’s best to combine this method with one or more of the others on this list.

In-Person Reminders

When patients visit you, try not to let them leave the office without setting up or reminding them of their next appointment. Patients may try to tell you that they’ll call to make an appointment later, but they’re highly likely to forget, especially if they’re not due to see you again for another six months to a year.

When giving in-person reminders, encourage patients to add the date to their calendar so it doesn’t slip their minds later. 

Tips for Effective Patient Recall

Want to get the most out of your recall effort? Here are some tips to try.

Send Reminders When They’re Most Effective

If you know your patient base well, you can send reminders when patients are most likely to read or see them. Most people look at emails in the early afternoons and evenings after they’ve left work. Research says that Tuesdays have the highest open rate at 18.3%.

You can send text messages whenever you want, but that doesn’t mean you should. Send your texts between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., when patients are most likely to be awake and available to read them.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

For the best results, don’t just rely on a single recall method. If you’re only using phone calls, you could be missing patients who refuse to answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize. Likewise, sending reminders via recall card in the mail only could cost you appointments with people who don’t check their mail often. Combining a few different strategies allows you to reach as many patients as possible.

Add a Personal Touch

You’re likely to get a better recall system response rate if you personalize your messages to patients. Always include the patient’s name so they’ll feel like your message was tailored just to them.

Make Booking Hassle-Free

Don’t make patients jump through hoops to schedule or confirm their appointments. An automated booking system, like Weave, allows patients to make and confirm appointments with just a few taps or clicks.

Follow Up With Unresponsive Patients

Despite your best efforts, it can be a challenge to get a response out of some patients. If a patient doesn’t respond to your first notice, try reaching out to them again a few days later. You might also want to use a different method, such as texting them instead of calling.

Patient Recall Scripts

Need some ideas for your messaging? Use these patient communication examples, or customize them to suit your practice’s recall process.

Text Message Script

Hi, [Patient Name], you have an appointment scheduled on [Date] at [Time]. Will that work for you? Text “Y” to confirm or “N” to reschedule.

Email Script

Hi, [Patient Name]! This is a friendly reminder that you have an appointment scheduled for [Date] at [Time].

If you need to reschedule, call us at [Practice Phone]. We look forward to seeing you!


[Practice Name]

Phone Call Script

“Hello, this is [Staff Name] at [Practice Name] calling to confirm your appointment with [Doctor/Dentist Name] on [Date] at [Time.]

Will you be able to make this visit? If you need to reschedule, please let us know at your earliest convenience. Thank you!”

Boost Your Patient Recall Rate With Weave

If patient recall takes too much time for you and your staff, try Weave! Our software for dental and medical practices automatically sends reminders so you don’t have to. Call us at 833-572-2139 or book a demo today.


What is a patient recall?

A patient recall is a strategy your practice can use to get patients to come in for a follow-up appointment. Recall appointment reminders can include phone calls, text messages, emails, letters, and postcards. You can also use software, such as Weave, that sends automated reminders for you.

Why is patient recall important?

A patient recall is important to keep your patients coming back. It is more cost-effective to retain existing patients than to attract new patients. If you schedule patients for preventative care appointments in advance, a few of them will forget. Patient recalls remind patients of an upcoming appointment or notify them of a missed appointment.

How can patient recall help your practice?

A recall strategy lets patients know that you care about their well-being, so it’s a smart way to improve patient retention and patient satisfaction. It also helps your practice avoid losing money on missed appointments and ensures that patients get the care they need.