Janet Jones, Practice Manager, Inspire Dental, Reading

Have you ever taken a minute to consider how much time it takes your team to send recalls to those patients who fail to book appointments before they leave your practice? Then take another moment to consider the number of appointments made as a direct response to your recall – you might be shocked at the results. Based on data collected from hundreds of practices, Software of Excellence has statistical evidence that in an average performing UK dental practice 68% of recalls are never answered. Put simply this means that for every three recalls made, only one of them is likely to result in an appointment. Not only is this inefficiency a drain on resources, but it also prevents staff from spending time on more valuable tasks such as dealing with patients who are actually in the practice.

Inspire Dental in Reading recognised that they had the potential to increase the success of their recalls and also understood the impact such a change could have on the overall efficiency of their practice.

Janet Jones, practice manager and dental nurse at Inspire Dental, was at the forefront of implementing changes to the recall process: “Only 8-10% of our recalls were resulting in an appointment being booked. Following recommendations from our Software of Excellence consultant we started to use the Recall Manager module within EXACT and this resulted in an improvement to our recall effectiveness of 33%.

We achieved this increase by firstly encouraging our receptionists to ask patients for their preferred method of contact; be that email, text, phone call or letter, as contacting patients in the way they prefer is much more likely to illicit a positive response. We also changed the dates our recalls were being sent out and implemented a 3-stage recall process.

We also became aware that by improving patient recalls, we could make progress in other areas of the business, such as chairtime utilisation. The correlation between these two factors is clear; the more appointments booked, the more chairtime is being used, and the greater the potential for patients to require more complex and high value treatments.”

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Another aspect of filling available chairtime of which practices should be aware is the impact of FTAs and short notice cancellations. Once again EXACT highlighted some performance shortfalls that were easily remedied by employing some simple ‘patient reminder’ techniques.

“Looking at our FTAs was extremely beneficial. By extracting the appropriate data from EXACT we were able to see the number of patients who had failed to attend and how much whitespace this had created. Since we have been made aware of this issue, we have implemented a rigorous appointment reminder system, which again uses the patient’s preferred contact method to remind them of upcoming appointments.

The combination of recall and appointment reminder systems has really helped us to reduce the amount of white space in the appointment book and this has an obvious and immediate impact on bottom line profitability. The key to enabling these systems to run so effectively is to make a determined effort to gather the relevant contact details from patients. These are easily stored in the patient file and EXACT even prompts the front desk team to collect any missing information when the patient is at reception. The whole process is completely integrated and streamlined.

Using EXACT properly has definitely enabled me to fulfil my management responsibilities more efficiently and as I work in reception and in-clinic this has made a huge difference to me personally. In fact, the impact on the whole team has been very positive. Now, everyone understands the role they have to play in the efficient running of the practice, and this has helped boost team morale.

Being able to extract and analyse ‘real-time’ data from our practice has helped us make more informed decisions and as a consequence, offer a much better service to our patients. By analysing the performance of our practice, we have been able to implement new ideas and identify opportunities for growth, which we are certain will continue to have a positive effect on the long-term success of our business.