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Don't Let Treatment Fall Through The Cracks

Posted Jun 13 2009 12:17am

    If you treatment plan a crown and the patient never schedules an appointment, you wasted the time you spent looking at the tooth, diagnosing the problem and talking to the patient about treatment.  While you can't perform assault and battery on your patients to make them accept and begin treatment, you can improve the likelihood that they will end up in your chair with their mouth open.  Having an administrative staff that is well prepared and ready to follow up on treatment is key to keeping production flowing. 
    It's a great time to be in dentistry because there are so many innovations that make life easier...if you know how to use them.  Computerized systems are a great advancement, but they can take some time and effort to learn; and you probably never know everything.  We are on Dentrix and I love it, but it takes some effort to learn to use it's systems to your best advantage. I've been really trying to install good methods for preventing patients and treatment from falling through the cracks and into oblivion.  I began by clicking on continuing care and let it run the view for all.  Wow!  All the way  back to 2003.  At first I thought I'd just go in and delete all that old continuing care, but then I decided to kill a few birds with one stone.  I used it as a mini audit as well.  Some patients were archived, most were called and offered a recall appointment to reactivate them and some were placed in our inactive file.  We even discovered that a few had passed on and were able to change their head of household so that we didn't continue sending correspondence in their name.  We've reactivated a surprising number of patients this way and cleaned up continuing care as well.
    I also added a treatment plan follow up to our continuing care reason list.  I set it for one month and if a patient doesn't schedule an appointment it pops up in a month to remind us to call and see if they're ready to begin.  The phone call and their response is recorded in their office journal which is easily accessed from the continuing care list.  Another method is to send the first procedure on the treatment plan to the unscheduled list by scheduling it and  clicking wait/will call.  Finally we use the notes section of the schedule to place one more reminder to check back with the patient.
    You can keep a finger on the pulse of your practice.  All it takes is planning, dedication and persistence.  It also takes staff members that are dedicated to learning and using it.  Once you get started you'll be gratified to see everyone working together to get your patients appointed and the treatment that you planned under way.   

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