Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holes in your doctors schedule?

What do you do when, during a patient’s continuing care appointment, the doctor diagnoses a tooth that needs a crown and the patient leaves without scheduling it?  Have you ever wondered how much unscheduled treatment you have on your books, and how your team is following up on it? Looking for some new ways to reach out to your patients?  Read on.
When I present the Dentrix Insight Seminars I am surprised at how many offices have no idea what the Treatment Manager Report is.  Do you?  This is THE tool for retrieving a list of patients who have unscheduled treatment waiting to be acted upon.  These patients are just waiting for a phone call, e-mail, letter or some kind of correspondence reminding them about that decay or fractured tooth that the doctor diagnosed at their last visit.  I know none of us like ‘babysitting’ our patients, but we have a responsibility to our doctors to keep their schedule full and use every resource available to help our office be as productive as possible.  
The Treatment Manager Report can be generated from the Appointment Book or the Patient Chart.   You can customize this amazing report to generate a list of patients who meet specific criteria.  Using this report, you can search for all patients with unscheduled treatment or only patients who have dental implants in their treatment plan or only treatment plans from a certain date range.  However you build it, you now have an interactive list to work from. 

Once you generate a report that meets your customized criteria, you’ll want to put it to use by contacting patients with reminders and gentle nudges, and everything you need to do that quickly and easily is at your fingertips, right in the report.  At the top of the report you’ll find a list of all the built-in tools for corresponding with your patients.         These include:
·         The Office Journal – use this for documenting your phone conversations.  Why the patient didn’t schedule, when they want you to follow up or how they can achieve financing.
·         The Quick Letters – have some custom letters created in here if you have a patient who might respond better to a letter.  You could include how much insurance they have left for the year or include links to financing options like CitiHealth Card or Care Credit.
·         E-mail through Microsoft Outlook – if you have not been able to reach your patient by phone, try an e-mail.  I have found that many of my patients now want to communicate through e-mail instead of the telephone.
·         Treatment Planner -  review a treatment plan by clicking on this icon before you call your patient.
·         Patient Ledger – review a patient’s balance before you call her to see if she has a past due balance.
Wondering if these tools are worth the effort?   Not too long ago, the dentist I work for came up to the front desk and pulled out a paper chart from the file cabinet.   The patient had multiple items on his treatment plan and the dentist asked me, “Don’t you wonder what happened to this patient and why he never scheduled this treatment?”  My reply was, “Let me look and see what our correspondence with the patient has been and I will let you know. “  I reviewed the patient’s Office Journal and was able to show my doctor documentation of each and every phone call and conversation I had with the patient over the last 6 months.  Instantly, I was able to demonstrate to him that just because I wasn’t writing in the paper chart any more didn’t mean I wasn’t following up with our patients’ treatment plans.   Score one for the Dentrix Manager Report!

3 comments:

  1. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!




    Patient Appointment Scheduling

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  2. I like your ideas, however, I feel like our receptionist harasses the patients by calling over and over for them to schedule a return visit. When does reminding a patient become harassing a patient?

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    1. Great point and I agree with you that too many phone calls can be annoying. I will make 3 phone calls to a patient about 3-4 weeks apart. Then let it go until they are due for their regular hygiene visit. Once the patient is due for their hygiene visit then the communication switches to that.

      Hope this helps,
      Dayna

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