Using follow-up calls to educate your patients

2016 05 24 14 35 52 802 Mc Kenzie Sally 2016 400

As nice as it would be, most patients don't agree to treatment as soon as the treatment coordinator finishes a case presentation -- even if the coordinator spent a lot of time going over the benefits of treatment and the possible consequences of putting off care. Most patients need time to think about their options and talk everything over with their spouse, so that means they walk out of the office without scheduling.

Sure, this is frustrating, but not all hope is lost. If you train your treatment coordinator to follow up with all patients two days after the initial presentation, you'll find your production numbers will start to rise. Of course, these calls have to consist of more than just simply asking patients what they've decided to do. They should be used as an opportunity to provide patients with more education and as a marketing tool for the practice.

7 tips

How can you get the most out of these calls? Here are my tips.

1. Be prepared to address any perceived barriers to care

Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

It's been a few days since the presentation, so while everything the coordinator said is still fresh, patients also have had the chance to come up with plenty of excuses not to go forward with treatment. Maybe they're worried about the cost or how long they'll need to be off work. Whatever the perceived barriers to care are, the coordinator should be able to work with them to find a solution so they're ready to schedule by the end of the call.

For example, if money is what's holding them back, remind patients about any financing options the practice offers. Third-party financing enables patients to pay small amounts toward treatment each month, making it much less of a financial burden.

2. Focus on creating value

Unfortunately, many patients don't see value in dental care, which is often why they opt not to go forward with recommended treatment. They'd rather spend money on other things, and don't see a reason to make dental work a priority. Use these calls to educate patients about the value of the services you provide and how maintaining their oral health will save them from costly, painful problems down the road.

3. Provide education

During the calls, the coordinator should reinforce to the patients why the doctor is recommending treatment and the possible consequences of ignoring any problems that were identified. Remind them of any images or x-rays that were taken during their visit and the story they told. Continue to educate them about their specific issue and how the practice can help them reach optimal oral health.

“One call might not be enough.”

4. Show them you care

Make sure patients know you don't see them as a number and that you truly have their best interest at heart. They'll appreciate the time the coordinator spends educating them about their condition and their options, making them more likely to feel connected to your practice and entrust you with their care.

5. Give the coordinator access

When it's time to make follow-up calls, your coordinator shouldn't just wing it. This team member should be armed with as much up-to-date information about patients as possible, including any issues they brought up during the presentation that could keep them from scheduling. Having this information will make the calls much more successful, leading to improved production and a healthier bottom line.

6. Create scripts

To help the coordinator get through these calls without any major hiccups, I suggest you develop a script. Having access to a detailed script will give the coordinator more confidence during the call, but it's also important to keep basic telephone techniques in mind. Train the coordinator to speak clearly with a smile and never come off as robotic. The more natural the conversation, the more likely patients are to appreciate the time spent educating them -- and ultimately schedule.

7. Keep at it

One call might not be enough. Even after all this great education and marketing, some patients will still say no to treatment -- that's OK. Just don't give up on them. Remember, patients often need to hear the same message multiple times before it sinks in. Continue to follow up in between visits and educate patients. Eventually, it will pay off.

Also consider using educational materials in your efforts. Mail patients a brochure about the treatment you're recommending, or send an e-newsletter that has information about their condition. This will help reinforce the education provided in the practice and over the phone.

You and your team members know how important it is for patients to accept the treatment you recommend, but patients often don't see the urgency, especially after only one case presentation. That's why it's so important to follow up with every patient who doesn't schedule. Reinforcing the education provided and showing patients you care about their well-being will help them feel a connection to your practice. They'll start to put more trust in your recommendations and will understand why they shouldn't put off treatment. More patients will schedule, and that will do wonders for practice productivity and your bottom line.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

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.

Page 1 of 515
Next Page