How do you follow up with patients that do not schedule the treatment you recommend? Call them? Send an email? Send a letter? Drive to their house?
What response are you receiving? Do the patients return the call, reply to your email? Perhaps it’s time to look again at the content of your letter.
Dentrix does a great job of getting you started – they offer more than 40 pre-written letters on a variety of subjects, such as continuing care, recall and thank you letters. These are a great place to begin. Next, you can open the letter template and edit these letters to create a customized letter for your patient.
For example, one of the free Dentrix pre-written letters that targets unscheduled treatment patients says:As you may remember, you were in our office earlier this year and received a treatment plan from us. We want you to have the best dental care and the healthiest teeth while getting the most out of your insurance benefits. For your information you have the following insurance benefits remaining:
«PIns_Name»: $ 0.00
«SIns_Name»: $ 0.00
Please call our office at your convenience to make an appointment and finish your treatment plan.
Go into this letter template (dtxlm21.doc) and customize this letter for your patient. There are several items you can change from generic to customized:
- Instead of “a treatment plan” – write out what the treatment plan includes “2 extractions and replace those upper teeth with a metal-framed partial”
- Instead of “insurance benefits remaining” – write out “the total fee for your treatment plan is $1500 and your Aetna dental insurance will cover $800, leaving $700 as your portion” – do the math for your patient
- Add your practice’s financial arrangements choices – write out “You have several options to take care of your $700 portion – the first is to pay in full and receive 5% discount, this would save you $35” – and write out the rest of your financial options so your patient can see the numbers.
- Instead of “received a treatment plan” – write out “Dr. Smith recommended these 2 extractions and a metal-framed partial denture to replace your missing teeth at your dental cleaning visit on June 1st”
If your dentist performed a comprehensive exam and took good documentation, then you also can find why the patient wanted to get their teeth fixed in the first place – your letter is a great time to remind them of their personal motivation. For example, “I know your brothers’ wedding is on August 1st so please call us so we can complete your treatment before you leave for the wedding.”
One of the beauties of the Dentrix ledger is that at a glance, you can see how much treatment this patient has received in the past. Is this a patient that only comes in for emergency exams and extractions or are they super-healthy with visits just for preventive care and now they need a crown for a broken down tooth? By looking at the ledger, you can add powerful comments to your letter that strengthen your communication with the patient and increase their response back to you. Here is a statement from a letter I wrote recently, “I see that you have been in our top group of the healthiest patients. Over the past 5 years, you have only come in for dental cleanings and exams with xrays – Congratulations!”
By customizing these letters to the patient, they will improve your communication and increase your response rate.