#20- Coordinates for recall hygiene appointments

Responsible for filling hygiene schedules

This is one of the most important tasks at the front desk.  We are dedicated to the concept of preventive dentistry.  How can we better do this than to maintain a strong program to keep our clients healthy through regular preventive maintenance.

Your task is to coordinate the efforts of the hygienist team. Your extra responsibilities will be:

  1. End of month reports to hygienists
  2. Coaching staff

You are responsible to watch hygiene schedules and keep them full.

  • Make sure all admin team members check the schedules daily for holes & to make sure appointments are scheduled properly (top down, bottom up, correct times, etc.)
  • Help the admin team to meet their goal for hygiene unfilled hours – the goal is to have only 6% unfilled hours each month.
  • Check schedule 3 days out for pre meds & call in prescriptions for those patients.
  • Touch base with the hygienists regularly, ask them how their schedule is going, any thoughts or ideas or compliments they would like you to share with the team.
  • Help admin team members who aren’t effective in filling these schedules.

Track each team members’ effectiveness in filling the hygiene schedule with their Recall lists.  At the end of each month, count the number of recall appointment’s made by each person and give this report to _______.

We send recall cards with specific messages to each client the month before they are due.  For clients due from the 1st to the 15th of the month, their recall cards are mailed on the 15th of the previous month.  For clients due from the 16th to the last day of the month, their recall cards are mailed on the 30th of the previous month.  Expect about 25-30% of our clients to call us back when they receive their cards.

Make these calls during your project time, unless there are current day openings. These current openings are to be given the same high priority as a hole in a dentists schedule. You probably won’t be able to leave the desk while you quickly (starting at 8:00) fill today’s schedule.


If possible:

  1. Go to a quiet desk area with a computer.
  2. Find their name in Dentrix and check the recall type.  Recall types are:
    1. Adult Prophy
    2. Child Prophy
    3. 4 in Prophy (difficult)
    4. Perio maintenance
    5. Mini Prophy
    6. Call up the client’s name on the computer
    7. When was the client’s last appointment?
    8. Any other treatment outstanding?


Start by calling those patients who have not contacted us. We print a list monthly.  Tell them “Hi Mrs. Duncan, This is _____ from __________.  I am calling you because you were due for your preventative cleaning and oral cancer exam on _____  my first available is ___________. How does that sound? ”

  1. Don’t just read this “speech”
  2. vary the loudness of your speeh
  3. pause in the middle of some sentences
  4. emphasize key words
  5. be enthusiastic

The patients your team is unable to reach by phone after numerous attempts, or their phone has been disconnected or changed, send a letter.  When calling these patients, some may have changed dentists, moved, or died.  Document this and change their status to inactive.  Archive deceased patients.

Remember to concentrate on the positive.  Don’t embarrass clients. Give the client a reason to come in ‑ if they’ve had treatment, they need to come in to try to avoid future treatment; if they’ve stayed healthy then they need to come in to keep their streak!

Plan to keep each hygienist schedule filled two weeks in advance.

Expect about 25‑35% of our clients to respond to their postcard.  Your job is get at least 50% of the rest to come in.  The phone is the most powerful tool you have and now is the time to use it.  Don’t call before 10:00 AM or after 7:30PM.  The best time to call is from 4:00 to 7:30 during the week or Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00.  When you are ready to work on your recalls, get your list in front of you. Know what you are going to say in advance.  Don’t be distracted by others around you.  Focus on the caller.  Vary the pitch of your voice. Smile. Be enthusiastic!  Speak a little slowly.

Your first 15 seconds on the phone are the most valuable.  When someone answers assume it’s the person you want to talk with.  “Hello, Mrs. _____?”  This saves you time and makes Mrs. ______ feel good if it is she.

“This is _____ from Dr. _________’s  office. It’s time for your cleaning and Dr. particularly wanted to ____________ (check the clinical notes). We have time at 9:00 Tuesday morning or 3:00 Thursday afternoon with (hygienist’s name).  After the appointment is made ask, “Has there been any change in your health since your last visit?” “Thank you Mrs. _____.  (or We’ll look forward to seeing you on the ____.)”

                                    Always end on a positive note!

Any call is an interruption, but if the client seems in a hurry or irritated say; “You sound like you’re busy…” and wait for a response. If the client says yes, say “In that case Mrs. ______, I’ll be as brief as possible.  The reason I’m calling is…”  Then say your presentation.

If your client objects:

When your client says s/he doesn’t want to schedule an appointment, don’t accept “no.”  Find out why.  “Mrs. Brown, I’m sorry that you won’t schedule a preventive care     appointment with us now.  We believe this is the best way to avoid expense and pain.  Can you tell me if there is some way we could improve our system?”  Get them to talk while you listen.  Don’t leave long silences or talk too much.  Inject your comments to help them (and you) understand why they don’t want the appointment.  Don’t ignore anything the client says.  Every comment must be dealt with appropriately.  Make notes of all these comments and transfer them to the chart after you hang up.

Often, someone won’t schedule because they’re not ready to commit to a date without checking their schedule. Often, you can convince them to schedule by letting them know that they can always reach back out to reschedule. You can even offer to send them an email letting them know the date/time – as a reminder to confirm that works for their schedule.

These responses will help you sound like a “pro” even when you are a beginner.

                                    Responses to Patient Situations

  1. I’m not having any problems:

Congratulations on maintaining good dental health.  This is our goal for all our patients.  I can make an appt. for you to confirm this.

  1. I want to wait a month:

Fine, I will call you about this time next month to arrange an appt. Not ‑ Do you want me to call?  You must keep control.  When calling next month say ‑ I have called back as I promised to arrange your examination.

  1. I want to wait another month:

Dr. ______’s preventive program is arranged to keep you from having problems.  If it is not convenient for you to participate in this program now, perhaps you should call us when it is convenient.

  1. I have changed to another Dr.:

Dr. ______ will be surprised you’re not coming back, but glad you are continuing your preventive dental care.  Would you tell me why you are changing?  Please have your new Dr. contact us so we can forward our treatment history.  If we can be of help in the future, the door is always open.  Let me wish you and your family the best of health and happiness.

  1. I can’t afford it:

We believe that preventive dentistry allows you to keep your costs to a minimum. Repair dentistry is so much more expensive and painful.  Would it help if your payments were spread out?  If yes, say ‑ The total fee for a cleaning/exam/decay xrays is $200 – would it help for you to split this into 2 payments? I’d be happy to have you pay half down and then pay the rest when you come in next month. If they say no ‑ say ‑ You are always welcome to take advantage of a payment plan if you like.

  1. Whatever the client’s excuse, use one of the statements to answer the objection and try again

“Well, I understand that, but ……

“Well, I know what you mean, but …..

“Well, I appreciate that, but ……

“Well I respect that, but ……..

“Well, I’d be surprised if you weren’t at this point, but ……

  1. After you’ve answered the objection, and you get another, accept it. You don’t want to start an argument.

When you have made a recall appointment, cross that name off the recall list so someone else doesn’t call them later.  If you aren’t able to reach someone, put the date and time of your call next to his or her name so you’ll know to call again at a different time of the day.

Follow Up for STM

There are 3 categories of recall follow up that hygienists are responsible for:

  1. STM cases presented but not scheduled
  2. STM patients that did not complete their STM
  3. Perio maintenenace patients

STM cases presented but not scheduled

Every time a hygienist diagnoses an STM for a client, you must enter the treatment plan into the computer. Every week, we print the “Unscheduled Treatment report” that shows all patients diagnosed yet unscheduled from the week prior. The admin team is responsible for reviewing this report, and following up to schedule. The hygienists will receive this report monthly and are expected to call their patients within 10 days in order to schedule their STM of patients who have not yet scheduled. Hygienists can also find these patients by reviewing their commitment list & checking the computer to find those not scheduled. They are to make notes of their conversation or attempted follow up (message on machine, multiple attempts to call, personal note mailed) so that you can enter the results into the Recall tracking spreadsheet.

STM patients that did not complete their STM

Hygienists can find STM patients on their monthly commitment list and should check the computer to find those that have dropped off. Hygienists are expected to call these patients in order to get them scheduled.

If the hygienist is unable to contact the client by phone, the following letter should be personalized by the appropriate hygienist and sent within 2 weeks of the last appointment.

Perio Maintenance patients

Dr. ______’s coordinator will print the perio maintenance recall letters each month and give them to the hygienists. She will find out which patients belong to which hygienist and enter the names into the Recall Tracking spreadsheet. The hygienists are responsible for signing & mailing the letters. Each month, Dr. _____’s coordinator will print the Recall Tracking worksheet & give it to the hygiene team so each hygienist can call their patients and get them scheduled. Again, hygienists need to track their results & provide to Dr. ______’s coordinator so she can log in the spreadsheet

To get more done with less work is largely a matter of organizing your work habits.  Ivy Lee, a business consultant, gave the following advice to Charles Schwab who was the president of Bethlehem Steel.  “Write down the six most important tasks that you have to do tomorrow.  Number them by importance.  Then the first thing tomorrow morning, look at item #1 and start working on it until you finish it.  Then do item #2, and so on until quitting time.  Don’t be concerned if you haven’t finished them all.  If this method won’t get them done, no other method will.  Try this system every day.”  Schwab reportedly called this advice the most profitable he ever received.


10 Most Overworked Excuses

  1. I forgot.
  2. No one told me to go ahead.
  3. I didn’t think it was that important.
  4. Wait until the boss comes back and ask him/ her.
  5. I didn’t know you were in a hurry for it.
  6. That’s the way we’ve always done it.
  7. That’s not my dept.
  8. How was I to know this was different.
  9. I’m waiting for an ok.
  10. That’s his/her job ‑‑ not mine.

The front desk can be a busy place with different secretaries performing different tasks.

Example:  One person making entries on the computer, one on the telephone, and the third working with clients and filing. Your job is to keep our recall system at 85% effectiveness.  As you become surer of yourself you will be able to assert yourself with the clients that give you an initial negative answer.  You could say “Well, Mrs. _______, doctor had wanted to check your (from computer).        Are you sure you can’t schedule an appointment?  Try to clarify objections:  “It costs too much.”  “If the cost could be spread out would you be able to make the appointment?” Here’s how to handle a rejection:

  1. Close on a positive not “Thanks for your courtesy.”
  2. Don’t take it personally
  3. Avoid carrying negative feeling over to your next call.

Besides knowing what you are doing, you need to be efficient.  Set aside at least one hour to make your calls.  Get your materials ready and get your “mind set” for the task Set several goals for yourself:

  1. 80% of the clients due in a given month are appointed.
  2. Have all recalls accounted for the two months prior to current  month.
  3. Expect to complete 20 calls per hour (16 of these should make appointments)

Since the hygienists and dentists are compensated for, among other things, their production, they will be very interested in having a full schedule.  Be prepared for a certain amount of pressure from them and some complaints when holes occur.

One problem, although a good one, is when the hygiene schedule is filled for 3 weeks and you don’t have room to accomodate STM’s or new clients (our 2 most important groups). Solve this problem in 2 ways

1) assisted hygiene (level 4 hygienists only)

2) place blocks in the hygienists day that can’t be removed until 48 hours before that day

Be sure to get with the hygienists at their next meeting to make sure they agree to your plan.


At all times record the client’s comments in the clinical notes or guarantor notes with the date, and your initials.  Complaints, problems, compliments, etc. are all very important bits of information for the doctor and will help him/her in maintaining a good relationship with that client.

Be positive when you talk with our clients.  Use phrases such as:

“I’ll be glad to”

“I’m going to suggest”

“Would you be willing to”

“I’m sorry you feel that way”

“Thank you for calling it to my attention”

“Thanks for understanding”

Try to avoid these:

“I don’t know.”

“We can’t do that.”

“You’ll have to..”

“No” at the beginning of a sentence

Use the “scorecard” on the next page to determine your effectiveness. Each time you block out some time to make calls, keep track of your success.  You should see improvement as you become more familiar with the techniques of good telephone use.

  1. Familiarity with script
  2. Listening ability
  3. Voice clarity and diction
  4. Courtesy and service orientation
  5. Productivity

Be sure to delegate duties to other admin team members in such a way that they fit into their ideal days also!

At the end of the month, tally the total number of patients on your recall list and the total number that scheduled.  By dividing the second number by the first number, this will give the percent of patients actually seen during that month.  I would like to see this number be 80%.  Track each admin team member’s effectiveness in filling the hygiene schedule.  At the end of each month, count the number of recall appointments made by each secretary and give this report to _____.

End of month reports to hygienists

  • Count unfilled hours each day and give the total end of month for each hygienist (and each GP dentist as well).  Provide this info to the hygienists and everyone at the full staff meeting.
  • Run a monthly production report for each hygienist & shares that with them. If you want to print one of these:
    1. Dentrix – Office Manager
    2. Select the Practice Analysis icon
    3. Choose Reports
    4. Checkmark Production summary (unclick category, cross coding, payment summary)
    5. Select the date range (for the month or day)
    6. Select the provider
    7. Select Batch
    8. Then go to the office manager, select Practice Analysis & click print or view
  • Become very confident with treatment planning STM (remember to change the insurance coverage to 50% for code 4341), be available to the hygienists to go to the chair to discuss financial arrangements with patients considering this treatment.

*To be checked off on this section:

  1. Take charge, KEEP THE SCHEDULE FULL – for 2 weeks solid.
  2. Track unfilled hygiene hours for one month (why are there holes, how many hours unfilled, how many units/dollars went unfilled). Goal is 2 units per hygienist per day!

To complete this level, you will need to hold a monthly recall of 65% for those due. For those overdue and on the yearly recall list, the goal is 15%.  Your team leader will assign you your clients to call each month.

Now have a higher level secretary “check you out” on these skills.


_________________________       _______       ___________________       _______

Secretary – Team Leader                            Date                  Hygiene Team Leader                Date