I often get asked about the best way of making patients come back for their recall appointments.
It’s an interesting conundrum, and the fact that the question is framed this way to me indicates that the asker of the question is really not understanding what the purpose of the so-called “recall” appointment is.
Let me explain.
Patients will return to your dental office for their next appointment for their reasons and not yours.
So, by putting them on a “six-month recall” programme, all you are doing is putting them on your plan, not their plan.
They won’t come back if it’s all about you and not about them.
You need to give them a valid reason to return.
It has to be a reason that has validity to your patient.
You need to clearly enunciate to the patient what will happen to them if they do not return when you tell them to.
You see, patients think that dental treatment is like cleaning up the garage.
And that is, yes, sure it’s messy in there, but if I close the door and put off the clean-up until a few weeks later, nothing much is going to change.
Our role as health care providers is to make sure that the patient understands that time is their enemy, and not their friend.
“And if you don’t get this treatment done when I say, the crack will spread and the tooth could break and you could lose that tooth.”
“And if you don’t get this treatment done when I say, the infection into your bone will spread and the tooth could become looser and you could lose that tooth.”
“And if you don’t get this treatment done when I say, the decay will advance closer to your nerve and you may need a root canal and a crown, rather than only a filling. If it spreads into the nerve there is more chance that you could lose that tooth.”
The same thing is needed with hygiene visits.
Hygiene visits need to be scheduled at the time and not
“We’ll call you in six months’ time and get you back for a recall.”
If you’re allowing patients to leave without an appointment, and without a valid reason to return, you’re risking the fact that a considerable number of those patients will say to themselves:
“Well, you know, nothing’s hurting. I’ll leave it for a while.”
And isn’t that a LOSE-LOSE situation.
When a patient has completed their restorative work or their hygiene visit, they need to have a valid reason explained to them as to why they need to schedule their next hygiene visit then and there.
[Did you notice that I did not call it a “RECALL” visit?]
Try something like this:
“Mrs. Smith. I want to see you in three months’ time to clean your teeth and gums and to specifically check on whether this recession has advanced or whether it has stabilized.”
“Mrs. Smith. I want to see you in three months’ time to clean your teeth and gums and to specifically check on whether this bone loss on the X-ray has advanced or whether it has gotten worse or not.”
“Mrs. Smith. I want to see you in three months’ time to clean your teeth and gums and to specifically check on whether this loose tooth has firmed up, or has become looser.”
With a valid reason to return to your office and the fear of a consequence of loss if they do not heed your message, the patient is left with very little alternative than to return.
To not return would appear to be very foolish indeed.
Like I said, patients will return for their reasons, not yours, so give them logical simple CLEAR. NEXT. STEP. reasons to return to your dental practice.
Explain to them what will happen if the treatment is delayed.
It is your duty to ensure that the patient understands the consequences of delay.
So much so, that the patient always wants to make their next appointment, keep that appointment, and will be happy to come in sooner if an appointment becomes available.
My next public speaking presentation showing Dentists how to grow their Dental practices will be in London England on Saturday 4 August 2018 with Jayne Bandy.
.For more information and to secure your seat click this link here.
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