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Dental Recall: Effective Use of Communication Tools

There are more ways than ever to contact your patients. Appointment cards, dental recall cards, emails, text messages, phone calls, Facebook reminders are all commonly used methods of communication in the dental industry today. But what is the most effective use of these tools to contact your patients, schedule them for appointments, and get them into the dental chair?


First we need to understand the importance of working with your patient to establish which mediums of communications they feel most comfortable using.  Ask the patients if they would like to receive a phone call, a text, or an email reminder. Statistics show that live recalls systems are very effective for reminders because they allow for a more personal communication with patients where concerns and problems can be resolved.  Whichever tool you use for your reminders, make sure that you set expectations with your patients that they will confirm their receiving of the reminder.


Secondly we need to understand the purposes and strengths of each method of communication. One of a the dental recall system’s strength for example is to be the first means of contacting overdue patients to get them back into the dental chair. It can also be used as an effective reminder tool because of the personal communication it offers. Text and email reminders can also be effective tools but they do not allow a direct response from the patients to resolve concerns like the live recall reminders do.    


Make sure the timing of your reminder is appropriate. Sending a reminder too far in advance will defeat the purpose of the reminder because they will have time to again possibly forget about the appointment. On the other hand, sending a reminder too close to the appointment may not give the patient enough time to arrange their schedule accordingly to arrive to their appointment. Untimely reminders may cause the need to send multiple reminder messages which can cause patients to feel that the contact is too much.


The best way to communicate with your patients is to create a hybrid-like system. For example you would use your dental recall system to initially contact your overdue patients and schedule the appointment. You could then use your dental recall system again to remind the patient a week or so in advance of the appointment and resolve any concerns that may have arisen. Finally, the day before the actual appointment you could send a simple text message or email to send a final reminder.


By using your dental recall tools appropriately, and combining their strengths, you can increase the number of patients you are seeing, and watch your practice grow. What other suggestions might you have about appropriate ways to use your dental recall tools?

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