Dos and don'ts for patient retention: Give inactive patients reasons to reactivate

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Pay special attention to your pool of inactive patients. While some may have moved out of the area or switched to another dentist, many may still return to active status at your practice ... if properly motivated. As part of your overall program to increase your patient base, reactivating patients you haven't see for 18 to 48 months deserves special attention.

Do

Offer a reward for coming back to the practice. In the new dental economy, inactive patients have significant potential value to the practice. Using inexpensive communications channels -- such as email, calls by the front desk coordinator, or postcards -- invite them back to the practice for a free exam or other simple service. Many practices are surprised at the high level of response to such an offer, and the resulting increases in production more than make up for the cost of the incentive.

Don

Don't spend too much time or effort screening out patients who will definitely not be returning. Beyond rough cuts to the inactive list based on the time limit (18 to 48 months) and other obvious clues in patients' records, make your "come back to the practice" offer to most people on your inactive list.

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