Properly following up with your patients is critical to your practice for several reasons. Following up with your patients enhances patient care and patient satisfaction. Clinical problems can be identified early and any concerns or complaints your patient has are addressed right away.
Additionally, following up lets your patients know that you care. Many orthodontists decide to call their patients in the evening. Making this personal connection is one of the best ways to enhance your relationships with your patients. By creating a personal connection, a patient is more likely to return to your practice.
Methods to Follow Up Vary Depending on the Patient’s Age
Call the child’s parent/guardian. Ask how the little one is feeling. If possible, ask to speak to the child because receiving a call from you will most likely make his/her day!
Again, call the teen’s parent or guardian to check on him/her. In addition, if you have the teen’s email or cell phone number you can send a message to show you care.
Adults under the age of 65
Phone calls are probably the most personal way to check up on your patients; however, you could send the patient a text or an email. Additionally, some orthodontists use snail-mail to send patient questionnaires. Because the questionnaire does not require a patient to reveal his/her name, truthful answers are likely.
Elderly Patients 65+
Although some seniors are computer savvy, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately 40 percent are not. Phone calls are probably the best way to check up on your elderly patients. A follow up questionnaire is also a good idea.
Making the Follow Up Call
As you talk to your patient, project an empathetic attitude.
When you call a patient, ask:
- How do you feel?
- Do you have any questions?
Reinforce the post-appointment instructions that the patient received following the procedure. Remember to document this information in the patient’s record.
Documented information should include:
The patient’s response to your questions, preferably quoted in the patient’s own words.
An entry may read –
Post-appointment call to John Doe:
Patient states, “I feel fine, and I am taking the pain medication you gave me every six hours as prescribed. I am also eating rainbow sherbet to help keep the swelling down”
To continue taking the Ibuprofen as prescribed, only eat soft foods and remember not to drink out of straws. Return in one-week for follow up.
Lack of Follow Up May Lead to Malpractice Claims
Sometimes a malpractice claim is filed when an orthodontist fails to follow-up with patients on recommendations or other important issues. Staff needs to be aware that documenting reminder calls/notices, missed appointments, prescriptions, instructions, as well as efforts to make sure patients return for treatment is vital.
Proper Documentation is Your Most Reliable Witness
Should you need to defend yourself in a lawsuit, a patient’s properly documented chart is your key witness. It clearly outlines the sequence of events, bias and prejudice are of no concern and its memory never fails.
In the Courtroom, If It’s Not Documented, It Wasn’t Done
Make sure your staff knows that accurately documenting patient information assures that your patients receive the best care possible and protects you and your staff in the event a claim is filed. The first thing a plaintiff’s attorney will do is ask for a copy of the patient’s chart.
Document detailed, timed and dated entries about every action, including:
- Phone calls/Communications
- Missed appointments
Make sure that every aspect of patient care is documented in a consistent, timely, chronological and legible manner; the patient’s chart is the foundation for proving that the patient received good, quality care.
Weave offers innovative software to help you communicate more efficiently with your patients. With Weave, you can call, text and email your patients with one piece of software that syncs seamlessly with your current Orthodontics Software. Let Weave help you communicate with your patients and make your practice run smoother.