There’s an iconic scene in the movie Zoolander where Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) realize the files they’ve been frantically searching for are in the computer. They’re astounded this device could hold the key to foiling the evil plot of the villain Mugatu to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. The answers to all their problems are in the computer—if only they could access them.
Much like Derek and Hansel, it’s an eye-opening moment when dentists, owners, and managers realize that the information they need to elevate their practice and see an immediate boost in revenue has been in the computer all along.
Practically speaking, an office’s practice management software and call tracking solutions hold a wealth of patient information in the computer waiting to save the day. When they are leveraged properly through a healthy outbound calling campaign, these two tools enable dental offices to thwart bad months, energize slow times of the year, and combat budget crunches. Furthermore, each solution provides the opportunity to proactively reach out to previous and prospective patients to pursue revenue opportunities, versus passively waiting for patients to call the office.
As dental teams know, their practice management software holds all past and future patients who have been scheduled at their office, as well as their treatment information. This tool enables teams to see, at a glance, who has an upcoming appointment, who is overdue for a cleaning, and who has an outstanding treatment plan. These patient files present potential appointments and revenue in the computer just waiting for a phone call.
Call tracking solutions allow practices to see which patients may have fallen through the cracks and were not helped during their initial phone call to the office. Whether the patient hung up on hold or was never offered an appointment, comprehensive call tracking solutions can identify these calls and the patients who never received the help they needed. These missed opportunities to provide the level of service excellence that patients expect and guide callers to an appointment are waiting to be acted upon in the computer.
Top dental practices understand that leveraging the phone on incoming patient calls to improve patient interactions, capture more appointments, and increase revenue is crucial to their bottom line. However, the phone is often overlooked as a tool when it comes to outgoing calls—a component just as critical to the healthy operations of any practice.
Utilizing the information already available in the computer, dental offices can realize immense results by honing in on their outbound efforts. There are three types of outbound calls that practices should be placing based on information available in call tracking systems and practice management software: missed patient opportunities, recall efforts, and appointment reminders.
Missed Patient Opportunities
No matter how skilled schedulers are on the phone, calls undoubtedly will fall through the cracks. Patients won’t get connected to someone who can help, or schedulers will fumble on getting appointments booked. This presents an immediate opportunity to call back patients to recapture appointments and patient loyalty.
Utilize the insight available in call tracking solutions to understand which callers have not been helped and make a daily effort to reach back out to those patients. Designate at least one scheduler to be in charge of identifying and acting upon such patient calls. The designated scheduler should ideally carve out time twice a day (for example, at noon and before the end of the day) to call back any patients who have not been helped.
This extra effort sets a practice apart from the competition and provides the highest level of patient care. A patient who became frustrated by long hold times or who wasn’t offered the new patient special before turning down an appointment due to cost is pleasantly surprised when an office makes the point of calling back to ensure his or her dental needs are met.
Practice management software holds information on every patient who has visited an office. Instead of waiting for patients to call, become proactive in outreach by following up on outstanding treatment plans or patients who are overdue for a cleaning.
Consider offering specials or suggest a financial plan from Care Credit or a similar solution for these returning patients to secure the appointment on the spot. Set aside time at least once a week to focus on recall efforts.
Just as practices shouldn’t rely on patients to return for follow-ups, don’t rely on patients to remember the appointment they made months ago. Take an hour of time a few days prior to each scheduled appointment to reach out to the patient. Be prepared to offer additional appointment times if the patient needs to reschedule. Outreach goes a long way in making patients feel valued and cared for by an office’s entire team.
The practices that recognize and leverage the insight available in the computer are able to shift the mindset from one of passively waiting for patients to one of proactively seeking out patients. This shift results in increased appointment volume, enhanced overall patient experience, and a boost in revenue. Take a page from Zoolander’s Derek and Hansel to uncover and act upon the information available at your fingertips.
Mr. Johnson is a top problem solver at Call Box. Doctors and owners call him to increase their bottom line through enhancing the patient experience over the phone and converting more opportunities. He earned his MBA from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he studied how the power of data can affect organizational change.