A majority of dental practice management software has an easily-used function to view patients who are due or overdue for recall. These lists should be constantly managed and specific systems should be in place to contact and schedule these patients. The fact is, in 25 years of practice, I have found that patients who are otherwise high-functioning adults are completely unable to remember that it’s a good idea to visit the dentist twice a year without one, or even several, reminders. Crazy, huh? So, let’s keep texting, emailing, and calling the folks on the recall list.
Today, I’d like to talk about a different list. This is a list of patients that do not appear on the recall list and yet still need to be contacted. There are several reasons why patients might be in such a situation. Generally, they fall into two categories:
- Patients who have only been seen for emergency treatment and have never had a new comprehensive visit.
- Patients who have never been seen in the office, yet are still are listed as active patients.
First: Patients with NO comprehensive visits
The first category is easy to solve. We can run a report of people who have a specific last visit date shown in their charts and yet no continuing care or recall schedule. These people need to be contacted by the office and hopefully will become comprehensive care patients. I always suggest going in order of date, starting with the people who were seen most recently and going back in time from there. The most recent ones are the easiest to contact. Once we get a few years into the past, it will be harder to have up-to-date contact information. Many of these patients simply need to be inactivated.
Second: Never Seen before patients
The second category has several possibilities as to why a patient is active yet has no last visit and/or recall date. Therefore, a bit of research is necessary on each individual to figure it out. Here are some possibilities:
- The patient is incorrectly categorized in the chart as an active patient. This person may in fact be a guarantor or policyholder and not a true patient. This is a matter of correcting the error.
- The patient may be scheduled as a new patient in the future. This will self-correct, of course.
- There may be an error in the chart where the last visit date is blank. Correct this.
- The patient may have been scheduled as a new patient and failed the appointment. The decision needs to be made whether we will contact this person for another chance or not. This should be done in conjunction with the office manager or doctor on an individual basis.
In sum, it is very important that we continue to encourage our patients to maintain a proper recall. The very basis of this is proper maintenance of our database to make sure each and every patient is correctly shown on the appropriate reports and contacted when due. If you have a lot of people who do not have a proper recall or continuing care schedule set up, I suggest you solve just a few, maybe 5 to 10, per day. This effort will go a long way over the years to keep your database clean.
If you need help generating the necessary reports for this, please let us know! We are happy to help.