Inactive patients – every dental practice has them. The cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is quite appropriate when it comes to dental patients. Most people don’t get excited by a visit to the dentist, even though it’s necessary to maintain good oral health. So if they haven’t seen or heard from you in a while, it’s easy for patients to become inactive.
However few clinics can afford to overlook older patients. Retaining patients is just as important as attracting new clients for a successful practice. Patients who keep coming back to you form the foundation for a financially stable dental clinic. Every dental practice should have a strategy for inactive patients. Instead of writing them off as a lost cause, implement a system that encourages them to come back.
Identify Inactive Patients
How do you designate inactive patients within your practice? The general rule of thumb is to visit the dentist at least once a year for maintenance and preventive care. So you might want to designate a patient as inactive if they have not visited in over 18 months. The loss of a single patient is often accompanied by others as family members will also stop coming in.
Sometimes all it takes to get a patient back is a phone call or email reminder. Attracting new patients to your practice requires considerably more time and effort. So why not persuade older dental patients to come back? Inactive patients present a wonderful opportunity to fill up your schedule and get more revenue.
Reach out to Inactive Patients
Stage I – Emails
In today’s busy world, many people prefer emails they can answer at leisure to phone calls that demand immediate attention. Your first step when reactivating patients is to reach out to them via email. Don’t send too many or your patients will consider them spam. Leave at least two or three weeks gap between successive emails.
The email should contain information about preventative oral care and general tips for healthy teeth. Include a direct link where they can make an appointment or a phone number to call. Express your concern that the patient has not visited in some time and remind them that annual visits are necessary to maintain oral hygiene.
Stage II – Phone Calls
Your email campaign should bring back a few inactive patients. What about the rest? Now you move on to step two which is calling them on the phone. Whoever is in charge of making the phone calls should first confirm that it is a good time to talk. If the client indicates that they are busy, offer to call them back at the time they choose. Once you get the conversation rolling, you can use scripted messages that express your concerns about overdue visits. Encourage them to make an appointment as soon as possible. Like the emails, space your phone calls about 2 weeks apart.
Stage III – Snail Mail
You will have patients who don’t respond to both the emails and phone calls. You can send them a postcard or letter with a message indicating that you have tried to contact them by other means. Once again express your concerns that they are not getting preventive dental care and they’re overdue for a visit. Include your contact information so they can make an appointment. You can even offer coupons for certain services to welcome them back!
Sometimes patients become inactive for reasons you can’t control. They might move to a new city or change insurance plans. However, most patients become inactive simply because they forget and they are not motivated to see the dentist. Implement a system to reactivate such patients and you will soon see them in the clinic.