Sheri's Solutions: Records check

2016 08 09 11 38 33 962 Doniger Sheri 2015 400

"Shall we go through the charts to see who hasn't been in the office for a while?"

This brilliant question was from my assistant, who, proactively thinking, suggested we do our end-of-year records check at the fall solstice. Great idea.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

Many practices wait until late in November or early December to look for forgotten recare appointments, although the intent is always there. Everyone gets busy and there may be limited time to run through unscheduled appointments, unless it is part of a weekly office system.

In my practice, we've found that it is better to try to contact patients earlier in the last quarter than later. As we've all seen this year, Halloween pumpkins and costumes shared space with twinkling lights and elves on store shelves. Marketers are quickly pushing up the holiday experiences to nudge shoppers into early holiday shopping. We should take a cue from these wise marketers and start contacting those patients who have not scheduled their second preventive appointment (or maybe their first) of the year, in addition to those who may need pretreatment authorizations.

Although best practices recommend contacting patients when the preauthorization or the conversation of necessary dental work is fresh in the patients' minds, dental offices tend to remind patients too late. Often it is to '"use it or lose it" with regard to their dental benefit.

“Dental offices tend to remind patients too late.”

When patients finally realize they have outstanding necessary dental care, and it is the last two weeks in December, practices may not have available time in their schedule to accommodate these patients. Starting the gentle reminders and notifications earlier, patients will have a little more time to be flexible with their schedules, rather than squeezing us in between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

Production is always appreciated -- in any office.

Through the ease of computer-generated reports (or, for some of us, a more analog type of recare system), these reminder calls or letters are simply wise business.

So, the answer to my assistant was "absolutely."

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She is the immediate past president of the American Association of Women Dentists. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. You can reach her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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