Articles, Dentistry

Improving patient attendance

Having received information on Thrive, I was keen to discover how it could help improve my practice as a business. At the time, we weren’t using Exact to its full potential – our recall process was not properly managed and as a consequence, our turnover had dropped by 20% during the previous 18 months. I knew we needed a fresh approach.

A meeting with our Thrive consultant highlighted some performance shortfalls that needed to be addressed. We discovered our short-notice cancellations were high and not always rebooked, which is a waste of surgery chair-time. 

We undertook a six-month plan to implement Thrive’s recommendations and introduced all the suggested modifications, most specifically a change in our recall process and cancellation procedures. We have seen a marked improvement in turnover.

Patient recalls and reminders

Our recall effectiveness has improved dramatically because we now have a procedure to manage this process. Previously we were posting recall letters with no means of following up if patients failed to answer. Now recalls are sent via email and this has proved very effective for our patient demographic.

Improved cancellation rates

It’s understandable that patients sometimes have to cancel their appointments, but Thrive taught me that if the slot is left unfilled, overall productivity will be hit. We had always telephoned patients to remind them about appointments, but we have found that a combination of email and text reminders are much more effective. We now have a strict process, sending a first reminder via email five days prior to the appointment, followed by a text reminder three days before. As a result, we are now in control of our appointment book and are successfully reducing short notice cancellations. 

I have also changed our cancellation policy to 48-hours (previously 24 hours), this has helped improve our cancellation rate giving us more time to fill cancellations. 

As an incentive, we offer patients the chance to book last-minute cancelled appointments at a 10% discount. 

The personal touch

Since the introduction of Thrive, we have been able to give patients a much more personal service. Via email, we now distribute ‘happy birthday’ cards and quarterly ‘key health messages’, which aid patient education and engagement. Response to both these services has been very positive.

Emails work well with our patients, so our next step is to start communicating by this method post-treatment, to reinforce oral health messages. This will help educate patients on topics from post-treatment care to details of their individual maintenance plans following a hygiene visit.

Proactive approach

Taking part in the Thrive programme has made me proactively revisit my business. I had always kept records of turnover, expenses and so on but Thrive was a welcome addition. It adds more accurate data to my existing systems. My engagement with Thrive has been extremely beneficial, not least in terms of turnover – it has resulted in a 16.7% uplift in revenue over 12 months. Thrive has given me the tools to introduce a business focus to operate an efficient and profitable practice. We’re well ahead of the competition and my practice is thriving.

For more information about the Thrive programme and how it can benefit the practice, visit: www.softwareofexcellence.com.

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