Follow up calls to clients with major treatment or past due for recall cleanings

Major Dental Treatment

This task is critical to the health of our clients and the economic success of our practice. Be sure to give the highest priority to scheduling these clients as soon as possible.  Spend whatever time is needed to win these clients back. These people already have chosen us once.  It’s much easier to win them back than to generate a new client.  Here are the statistics adapted from Customer Win back 2001.

  1. 60-70% of current clients will accept our treatment recommendations.
  2. 20-40% of past clients will accept our treatment recommendations.
  3.  5-20% of potential clients will become regular clients.

If they have payment concerns, refer them to our level 4+ secretaries.

Each week a report “Unscheduled Treatment Plans” is generated. This sheet should never be more than 3 pages. Take pride in keeping this report short.

Unscheduled Treatment Plan List

We run a list of people who have been seen in the last week and had treatment recommended and entered into Dentrix and have not had that treatment completed. It is our responsibility to follow up no more than three times with a person who has had treatment recommended to answer any questions they may have and offer to schedule their appointment. We work this list weekly. All calls are expected to be completed within one month.

To run the unscheduled treatment report:

On office manager Icon

  1. Reports
  2. Lists
  3. Unscheduled Treatment Plan
  4. Patients “all to all”
  5. Select provider “all to all”
  6. Choose date from Tuesday to Monday

Example: on Tues. Sept. 25th, print report for Tues. Sept. 18th-Mon. Sept. 24th.

Go through the patients and look for:

  • Completed but not deleted treatment.
  • Wrong Doctor of record on the Treatment (change Dr. on the patient information screen).
  • Money problems
  • Which secretary checked out the patient

Now, you can type these patients names into an excel spreadsheet labeled for this week. This spreadsheet would include:

  • Dentist name, secretary responsible, treatment fee amount
  • Create columns labeled evening call, Saturday call and cell phone/email contact
  • Add one last column for the secretary responsible to note if scheduled or not after all contacts are made

At the bottom of this spreadsheet, create a section to track outstanding PTE’s (pre-treatment estimates) and include:

  • Dentist name, secretary responsible, treatment fee amount, date EOB sent, date EOB received
  • Make additional column for 1st contact attempt, 2nd contact attempt
  • Make one last column for the secretary responsible to not if scheduled or not after all contacts are made

When a PTE is returned from an insurance company, here’s what happens:


Example of excel sheet:


Once the spreadsheet is created, make a copy for each secretary whose name is on the list as the “secretary responsible”. It is her responsibility to start making follow up phone calls.

Before making any calls:

  • Read through the Treatment sheet and the Treatment Plan for any discrepancies or questions you might have. Make sure you understand the recommended treatment
  • Double check balances.
  • Is there an outstanding PTE or does one need sent?
  • Print and go over Treatment Plan Presenter if one has not been done.
  • When you call the patient, you only have about 15 seconds to make your point and get your client to make an appointment.

Make sure you understand who this client is.  The client is not “Mrs. Crown on #19.”  She is a person who has been coming to us for ____years, who enjoys ____, and like to ____

Guidlines for Calling Patients

When calling it is best to speak to patient, if patient is not available leave a message on the answering machine or with a family member. Make the two phone call attempts at different times of the day and different phone numbers if possible.

“Hi, this is ______ with a courtesy call from HealthPark Dentistry. You have (type of uncompleted treatment) that was diagnosed by Dr.___________ at your visit on ___________.  Not treating this problem now could lead to bigger, more expensive problems in the future.  Would you like to schedule that treatment today?


Sending unscheduled tx letter or email

  • Found in quick letters (GP unsched tx ltr, GP EOB letter #1 or GP EOB letter #2)
  • Customize to each patient
  • Note all calls, emails and letters sent and results in the patient’s clinical notes.
  • Give the doctor a list of patients and their charts that did not schedule

Expect to make a total of 3 attempts, approximately 3 days apart to help each client accept treatment.


Monthly Recall

We print this recall list in Excel each month. You are responsible to call from this list and complete your calls within the month. This list is used to schedule our patients that did not schedule a recall (cleaning) appointment when they received our postcard in the mail for the current month. Your responsibility is to call & get them scheduled. Your goal is to schedule at least 65% of your list.

Your script for this call is:

“Hi, this is Jill with HealthPark Dentistry. I’m showing you’re due for your dental cleaning, exam and oral cancer screening and I’m calling to get that scheduled for you. How is Thursday at 11am for you?”

Your script for leaving a message is:

“Hi, this is Jill with HealthPark Dentistry. I’m showing you’re due for your dental cleaning, exam and oral cancer screening and I’m calling to get that scheduled for you. Please call me back at 667-2417.”

You only have about 15 seconds to make your point and get your client to make an appointment.

To work this list:

  1. First- go through the list and highlight anyone who has already scheduled.
  2. Expect to make one phone call per patient that has not already scheduled as you try to get in touch with them – you cannot schedule anyone you do not talk to. If you do not reach them leave a message. You will have the best luck reaching patients if you try each of these calls in the evening or a Saturday.  These calls should not be done at the front desk.
  3. When you receive your pages (the lists are divided among the team), note in your planner the days/times you plan to make your first contact of phone calls. For example, you might estimate 1 hour per page of calls so if you have 2 pages, estimate 2 hours to get through your call list. Select a day/time in your planner when you can work on this call list for 2 hours. It’s best to complete all your calls within the first 2 weeks of the month, that way if any of your patients calls back, you can get them scheduled within the month.
  4. As you make your calls, you need to make notes in the computer & on your list.
    1. On the computer, go to family file, choose your patient, go to ledger, click on Guarantor Notes button & insert date line & type (for example) “LMM to sched prophy”.
    2. On your list, note whether you left message, scheduled, will call us, etc
  5. Next, note in your planner when you plan to make your second contact of letters, emails or texts. This contact should be done one week after the phone call.
  6. At the end of the month, you should go back through your call list & look up any of your patients in the computer to see if they scheduled an appointment (they may have called back & someone else may have scheduled them) & note by highlighting on your list which patients scheduled. Add up the total scheduled and the total patients on your list. Write these numbers at the bottom of your list & figure the percentage. (Percentage scheduled = Patients scheduled / Total patients).  Document at the end of each cover page why someone did not schedule.

Using the day box for patient follow up, make a note on an index card and put it into the month and day that follow up needs to occur. For example, a patient you called to schedule their recall or unscheduled tx may have told you they want called back in three months. So you don’t forget to follow up with this patient, a day box note should be made.

To get checked off on this section, you need to make sure that all patient follow up is occurring regularly, that the day box and all lists are being worked and are up to date and that all secretaries (especially level 1) are following the follow up system – for one month.

_______________________________                                        __________________

Team Leader Signature                                                                         Date


Example of EOB letter #1


May 26, 1999


Team Leader

111 S Main St

Pleasant Hill, OH 45359


Dear Team Leader,

Here is a copy of the insurance estimate on the treatment you discussed with Dr. Charles  Smith.

It is wonderful that your insurance company plans to pay $       of the total estimated cost for your treatment of $        . Please give us a call to set up your appointment.

If I do not hear from you before, I will call you in a week to answer any questions and arrange your next appointment. I will look forward to talking to you soon.




From now on, you will develop more skills as a patient communicator.  Many large companies give their communicators from 2 weeks to 2 months training before they are allowed to work with clients.  This section, other secretaries help, and a sense of humor is all we’ve got for you!  The more you develop and polish these skills, the easier your job will be.  Good telephone communicators have the following characteristics: outgoing, bright, poised, curious, good listeners, quick thinkers, even tempered, personable, enthusiastic, good clinical knowledge and confident in doctor’s ability.  Remember, even if it’s been a couple years since the clients were in, they usually still believe they are our clients.

Some other reasons to work on reactivation are:

  1. Our clients will see how organized and thorough we are.
  2. You are showing your care and concern for the client.
  3. You reinforce how important the treatment is.
  4. You eliminate all possibility of a lawsuit for abandoning the client.
  5. Scheduled clients improve our profitability.

One of the true tests of a communicator is to motivate overdue clients to return to the practice.  It is 2‑3 times harder to motivate a new client to enter our practice than to keep an existing client in the practice.  Our goal should be long-term relationships ‑ clients for life. THIS task is also in level 2. You will take over this task since it’s extremely important to HealthPark’s success..

Every month the secretaries will purge a portion of our client files.  68% of clients go to another dentist when they aren’t contacted regularly.  Here is a list of reasons clients leave us:

The professional:


Didn’t spend enough time                                51%

Wasn’t friendly                                                42%

Didn’t answer questions completely                  40%

Treatment didn’t work                                      38%

Wasn’t knowledgeable and competent               37%

Didn’t explain problems simply                        30%

Wasn’t up to date                                             29%

Didn’t treat you with respect                            27%

Wasn’t always available when needed               27%

Fees weren’t reasonable                                    25%

Refused to accept second opinion                     10%


As you know, the best way to communicate with someone is face to face second is telephone, and third is a letter or email. Your second task is even more important.  Find out why they left us.  Your skill at finding where we failed will be a major source for our continuous improvement.  Make a list of our failures.  Dave will review the cover sheet of why patients did not schedule. This information will be used by the team leaders to strengthen HealthPark.


Determine the status of our “lost” client.  The possibilities are:

1.  Moved away

2.  Switched to another dentist

3.  Don’t call us, I’ll call you (worst)

4.  Makes the appointment


The reasons a client can give are related to:

1.  Money

2.  Fear

3.  Time ‑ too busy

4.  Lack of understanding


Your call has two objectives

1.  Make sure the client wants to leave us not that we’ve abandoned the client.

2.  Keep educating and showing our care and concern.

  1. Identify yourself accurately.  The client can’t wonder who you are.
  2. The reasons for the call must be stated quickly, clearly, compellingly, and sincerely.
  3. The benefits to the client must be clear.
  4. Your presentation must sound unique and personal – not “canned.”
  5. You must sound like you know the client personally.
  6. Keep the client’s interest.
  7. Ask for the client to reactivate

a.  Past due hygiene ‑ make cleaning appointment

b.  Unfinished treatment

1.  Overdue for prophy

2.  Not overdue for prophy

a.  Schedule for prophy

b.  Hesitation by client ‑ offer to you staff exam time to reevaluate

  1. Finish your presentation with why the client should make the appointment.  This

should include

a.  A slight sense of urgency

b.  Have a benefit

  1. Close with alternatives so client can’t just say “no.”
  2. Deal with objectives quickly and clearly.  Never argue.  Use the list of the possible

objectives.  Keep it near you.

  1. When you are done thank them and hang up.  Don’t take the chance of ruining your

success.  Project a positive image.  Smile.  Be confident.  Be energetic.  Have a

mirror in front of you.  Tape several of your conversations to review with Dr.  Smith.

Your tapes will give us the chance to

1.  Show off how well you’re doing

2.  Polish your presentation so you’ll be more comfortable

3.  Problem solve ‑ find new answers to objections, etc.

4.  Hear how you sound ‑ courteous, concerned, etc.

5.  Effectiveness in dialogue with clients

This scripting is similar to our telephone-screening interview during the hiring

process.  It is more difficult.  You’ll have to think quickly.  Now here’s your

chance to practice your communication skills.

Primetime List

Anyone requesting an after 4 or Saturday cleaning appointment will be placed on our “primetime” waiting list.  Treatment with a dentist does not go on the Primetime list. Neither do any new patients.

“We have more than 25 evening and Saturday appointments every week, but due to the popularity of these hours we have established a waiting list. Right now there are approximately ­­­____# people ahead of you for those times. We do have      ___ or ____  (alternate times) during the day if either of those times would be convenient or if you like I can add you to the list.”

If yes, verify phone # and desired times.  Add to the “Primetime” list located in metal basket at the front desk and add required information to the end of the list.  Make a G note in the patient’s ledger that you have added their name to the Primetime list.

Use this list daily as new time opens up.

Note appropriate follow up when contact was made

*Left message answering machine

*Spoke w/member of family

*Spoke with person to be sched

*No answer

Delete person from list when appointment has been made.


Objections to Reactivation

Initial objections

  1. The service wasn’t what I expected (get details)
  2. We can get it cheaper elsewhere (stress value)
  3. We switched to another dentist
  4. I don’t have time now
  5. I’ll think about it and let you know.
  6. I can’t afford to come in right now.

          Initial response

“I’m glad you brought that up.”

“That’s a good point.”

“I can understand your concern.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had problems with us.”

         restate the objection


“So you feel….”

1.  You don’t have time for ____________

2.  Can’t afford _______________________

3.  Don’t feel it’s necessary to _______

4.  “I want to think it over.”

5.  I don’t want to do ________ right now


Now you have a choice – Thank the client for their honesty and tell them Jill will contact them to solve the problem or if you are comfortable, go ahead and resolve the problem yourself.

  1. Acknowledge their past visit with us
  2. Point out improvements/changes since their last appointment
  3. Make it very convenient for them to switch back
  4. Even reduce the fee by 20-30% to get them to reappoint


What would you like for us to do?

Offer a new benefit to counter the objection


1.  Money ‑ We’ll make payment arrangements, waive a particular fee

2.  Fear ‑ We’ll let the doctor know and be very careful

3.  Time ‑ Less now than to repair later

4.  Understanding ‑ Listen, answer appropriately


Now your client has 3 choices

  1. Agree to come in
  2. Perhaps come in – if there is some hesitation, make another offer and go through the process again.
  3. Disagree
  4. won’t come in
  5. demands are more than the client is worth
  6. client is just obnoxious
  7. don’t burn any bridges, just end the conversation


If our client has switched dentists don’t automatically assume we upset the client.

Other possibilities are:


1.  The client married and switched to the spouses dentist to keep harmony in the family.

2.  A relative or friend has become a dentist and the client feels obligated to change.


If the client is unhappy, you can say “I’m sorry we didn’t provide you with the care that you wanted.  Would you help us by telling me what we could do to improve our care?”


If the client says “no,” then say:


“Would you like me to contact you next month for that appointment or would you prefer to contact us?


If the client chooses not to make an appointment, make sure they aren’t dissatisfied with us.


“Mrs. Boring, I’m concerned.  Is there something we’ve done or should have done that has upset you?”


If yes, ask the following questions and try to solve these problems.  Alert the dentists.


1.  Overall, how would you rate the quality of care you received

2.  How would you rate Dr. __________ on his

a.  Availability

b.  Dependability

c.  Level of skill

d.  Concern for you problems

3.  If we should have done one thing better what would it be?


Do you feel comfortable in receiving services from Dr. _______ in the future? (If yes) Would you like to schedule an appointment now?


To be most effective, alter your response to match the personality of the person you call.


Caller Personality             Your response

direct/natural                         efficient, pleasant, professional

pleasant/outgoing                  friendly, some small talk

insecure, anxious                   nurturing, reassuring

confused, uncertain               patient, caring, clarifying

angry                                     empathetic listening ‑ refer to trained secretary

emergency, panic                   equal sense of urgency ‑ quick action

skeptical, cynical                   knowledgeable, professional

Many of these calls will be failures.  Be sure to stress two attitudes:

1.  We’re still thinking about them

2.  You’re concerned about their health

3.  They are welcome to return to HealthPark anytime they want

If someone answers, say: “May I speak to ___________?  She isn’t? Is there a better time to reach her?  Thank you, I’ll try to reach ___________ then.”


 * Score Card

Reactivation of Clients ‑ goal 15% outstanding, 12% good, 10% okay

Review with teamleader

________________________    _______________

Team leader                                           Date


Performance on lists

To complete this level, you must be able to fill the schedule.

Minimum performance:

  1. Yearly recall 15% scheduled
  2. Unscheduled treatment list:  50% scheduled
  3. Monthly recall  65% scheduled

You must average these %’s in a quarter before you can pass this level.


As part of this level, you are responsible for sending a letter to all of our patients that have dental benefits and treatment plans – we send this in October of each year with the hope of filling schedules for the end of the year. 

Instructions to create & print the 4th Quarter patient letter for patients with dental benefits and treatment plans:

This report & letter may be saved in Quick letters in Misc. Treatment Plan Reminder (dtxlm21.doc).

The filters for this report include:

  • Patients w/ treatment plans (use specific codes for restorative, fixed & removable pros, etc.) do not send to tx plans for diagnostic, preventive, conditions, etc.)
  • Patients w/ last visits covering the last 2 years
  • Patients w/ ins benefits remaining from $250 to $1,000.

It is a good idea to review this patient list to check the dentrix treatment plans. When we sent this letter in 11/04 we had some problems with folks only needing an x-ray, that had actually been completed.

The letter itself, reads:

June 10, 2014

Dear «FName»,

When we reviewed our records, we found that you have some treatment that we recommended that hasn’t been completed.  Last year some of our patients waited until December to call us to make use of their dental insurance benefits.  We did our best to help, but we couldn’t get everyone’s treatment completed by the end of the year.

If you would like to complete your treatment that we discussed, please call us as early in November as possible so you can use your benefit on days and times that are convenient for you.

Sincerely yours,


P.S.     According to our records you have over $250.00 of benefits that you will lose on December 31st.