Within any practice, there's a lot of focus on new patient generation, as it is always where the most money and growth can be found, right? Not necessarily.
First consider all of the unfinished treatment plans on your books, then assign a dollar value to them. Next, review all of the inactive patients who are due, or past due, for an appointment, but don't have one scheduled yet. Assign a dollar value to them too. (No, really. Do it. We can wait). Finally, review the number of patients that have gone dormant for a year or more and put a price tag on each one of their hygiene visits if they were to suddenly become active again. Are the numbers adding up yet? Perhaps the real money in dental marketing isn't in new patient generation - it's simply sitting in your file cabinet!
The concept of "file cabinet millionaires" isn't a new one, but it can be a tricky one to leverage in practice. For example, it's all well and good to recognize that there is missed opportunity sitting in your records, but with the countless other practice tasks, most office managers don't have time to meticulously mine their files and reach out in a consistent, targeted way. But here's the rub: you don't have to. Follow our four "R's" to success and you'll be drumming up those file cabinet dollars in no time.
Taking stock of all the patients who haven't been seen this year (or last) takes time and resources. Due to its great potential to reactivate dormant patients, it is recommended that this assessment, often referred to as a "chart audit," be performed twice a year. But given the increase in workload for office managers and dentist staff over the past two years, chances are you're not conducting chart audits every 6-months!
The Lighthouse automated software conducts a chart audit for you, every single day. Its smart technology scans every patient in your system to find those who haven't been seen for a set amount of time (for example, 12 or 24-months). When a patient is found, your practice is notified via an email and the patient is mailed a Reactivation Letter to his/her address. Two weeks later, your practice is alerted again, reminding you to follow up with the patient via phone call. Whether you reactive the patient into your practice or de-activate the patient from your system altogether, this daily, automatic chart audit gives you a plethora of opportunities to drum up dormant dollars, without any of the hassle. It also keeps your files updated and organized -making the need for those time-consuming audits a dreaded task of the past.
Shortening your patient recall time is another way to increase business, and from a marketing perspective, it's a no brainer! Unlike the dormant patients that have fallen off the radar and may require a little extra work to get them going again, these people are active, but perhaps just lagging behind. Gently reminding these patients that they are due (or past due) for a visit is extremely effective and easy - doing it manually, however, is not.
The Lighthouse "perfect recall system" is the most intelligent tool on the market for patient communications. A completely automated system, it sends reminders to patients in whatever way, or combination of ways, that you prefer: emails, text messages, postcards, letters, or even personal phone calls by your own staff members. It can also be set to a customizable schedule and requires zero staff intervention while activated.
Start with a gentle reminder to make an appointment several weeks before the patient is due, then continue to send a series of messages over time. Each message will escalate the importance of making the appointment - and thus increase the chances of shortening the patient's recall time. This "set it and forget it" approach to patient recall is a really effective way to shake those coins from your cabinet, as you take advantage of this great opportunity without the manual hassle associated with it.
Unfinished treatment plans - or patients who have been told they need an additional visit, but haven't scheduled it - can be a big opportunity to leverage your "file cabinet" contacts. According to recent studies, once patients have re-entered the production cycle, they're 20% more likely to accept restorative work. With an average restorative productivity of $500 per patient, the increase in production caused by patient reactivation amounts to ~$5,000 a month.
With Lighthouse 360, following up on unscheduled treatment plans will be the easiest task of your day. That’s because it gives you the ability to simply mark patients in need of scheduling and then automatically begin messaging them to book an appointment. You can even customize the types of messaging that they receive with a series of emails, postcards, and letters. With the untapped potential outlined above, there's no better time to be proactive about treatment plan completion - and it's now never been easier!
Consider this: your current patients are the best source for your new patients. Are you effectively tapping into the power of word-of-mouth marketing? In the digital age, the best word-of-mouth marketing takes place online, where referring or reviewing a business is easy, sharable, and instantaneous. Make sure that you're taking advantage of this powerful resource by implementing an automated feature that allows you to get feedback from patients after their appointments.
You can easily request reviews from happy patients with the Lighthouse review feature. Immediately after the completion of their appointment, patients will receive a customized review request form that can be completed in minutes. All of your positive reviews will be automatically posted to your website and across the web. Getting the good word out there can do wonders for boosting your online reputation - and ultimately, create new business buzz, for free.
Learn more tricks from successful dental practices with this video on the importance of sync time in your patient communication systems!