Do you know how many patients you really have in your practice that are interested in dentistry? Whatever your number is; this could be a sign that it’s time to revive the re-care system. During the time that your practice is not attracting as many new patients, it is even more of the time to revive the recare program and shift the focus onto your existing patients. If what you are currently doing isn’t working as well as you would like, then maybe it is time to examine the process. Here are a few questions to ponder:
- Is there time to for treatment options to be discussed in Hygiene? (How do you expect to get production out of those chairs if there isn’t time to talk about it)
- Is treatment being discussed in hygiene or daily life events? (If the focus is not on dentistry, then there is a problem?)
- Is hygiene sharing the new smiles, technology advancements and education that are occurring in the practice? This should be an “EVERY” appointment occurrence. (If they are not… who is?)
- Are photos on the screen during the patient appointment? (How do they know if they are not shown?)
Just mentioning recall upsets the stomachs of most dental office personnel. Maybe it is due to the lack of control in that department or even interpersonal office issues that involve hygiene. When you truly analyze the practice, you will discover that the “hygiene” part of your practice affects all other aspects of your operation. (Why wouldn’t you want to have a tight handle on this part of the practice?) By utilizing all of the potential that exists in your “recare system,” you can further the development of discussing treatment with clients
The old recare paradigm: Patients come in every six months for a “cleaning and checkup”. The hygienist tries to squeeze in perio treatment for a prophy fee, and the “Dr. Exam” consists of a quick glance at the teeth, while he is still thinking about the two patients he is juggling in his treatment rooms. Then just before the patient is dismissed the hygienist admonishes the patient for not flossing (which is a major guilt trip) and may suggest to the doctor that there is something suspicious around tooth number. This type of visit contributes little to the health of the patient and is a behavioral failure. The result is that the patient receives little to no education and exposure to the recent advances in dentistry and because they have infrequent comprehensive examinations the patient’s health suffers. Lack of education means lack of dentistry accepted. No one wins!
The revived recare paradigm: Your recare system, when used to its maximum potential, is the most powerful aspect of the practice. All of these functions that can be done by the hygienist, but can easily be performed and controlled by other members of the team. Here are a few aspects of the recare system that can be revived:
- Periodontal treatment- maintenance and basic perio services will always be part an exceptional recare practice, except that now periodontal treatment is diagnosed, scheduled, and treated for what it is, and not completed during a prophy visits.
- Relationship building -This is a critical aspect of every dental visit, but even more so when the visits have the periodic nature of recare. Developing and maintaining the growth of relationships within your patient base is essential for increasing acceptance of cosmetic and comprehensive dentistry. People purchase from people with whom they have a relationship and like.
- Treatment explanation and enrollment- If all of your patients in your recare system have treatment plans, it is easy for a team member to read, understand and motivate the patient toward healthier mouths. This is a natural event, which occurs during the recare visit. If you spend the time to perform and document the patient’s values, the rest is easy. You will of course need all the tools to perform the educational part of the function: digital photos printed, before/after pictures of cases that you have completed, brochures, and even educational videos.
Over the next year, you will be able to develop a “revived recare system.” These steps could revive your recare and allow the dentistry to be diagnosed out of your hygiene in an efficient manner. You could even create a rating system for your office to identify the patients that are interested in having dentistry performed would be an additional step that would increase the effectiveness of your recare system. They could get priority status over a patient who has shown little interest in the type of dentistry you offer. Previously restored patients, who would have no dentistry diagnosed because it has already been completed, would have priority status.
When you begin seeing patients who want the dentistry and value the care that you provide, you will become more profitable and begin to work fewer hours. Taking time with each patient, rather than rushing him or her through the $94.00 cleaning two times per year would produce more profit, more effective relationships, more referrals, and less stress over time.
Is your recare system ready to be revived?