Handling Unresponsive Patients


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Dealing with unresponsive patient communications can be a significant challenge and a problem with which many dental professionals currently need to grapple. Finding a straightforward solution can be challenging, but several options are worth considering to address this issue effectively.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that people’s lives are more hectic and complicated than ever. Factors like health concerns, homeschooling, remote work, and family responsibilities can take precedence over returning a dentist’s call. Recognizing this, dental practices may need to adapt their communication strategies.

Some approaches to consider include:

  • Experimenting with different communication methods, such as online scheduling and text messaging.
  • Calling patients at various times of the day to increase the chances of reaching them.
  • Tailoring messages to be more engaging and informative.
  • Recognizing that what works for one patient may not work for another, so be open to creative solutions.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that patients either confirm, reschedule, or schedule their appointments, prioritizing the objective of planning to goal and working smarter, not harder.

Certain times of the year, like the holiday season, require more proactive schedule management. Don’t rely solely on having appointments on the calendar. If your team has concerns about certain patients’ reliability, trust your instincts and take necessary actions to either confirm their appointments or remove them from the schedule. A proactive approach can prevent last-minute scheduling issues. Once you have a clearer picture of which patients are committed, consider utilizing free slots in the schedule for team training, catching up on administrative tasks, or creating instructional content for future employees.

Anticipate that the schedule may become lighter in the coming months and take proactive steps to address this issue.

Focus on:

  • Attracting new patients through marketing efforts.
  • Reconnecting with inactive patients to encourage their return.
  • Reaching out to patients with outstanding treatment plans.                            

This is not the time to wait for patients to initiate contact; instead, be creative in your outreach efforts and engage in outbound communication actively.

Leverage technology to its full potential, whether for attracting new patients or re-engaging existing ones. Collaborate with your marketing company to optimize your online presence. Ensure your patient communication software is used efficiently to streamline communication and facilitate scheduling. Stay updated with your software’s latest features and functionalities to improve patient confirmation and appointment scheduling.  Also, know your patient base. If you have a lot of older patients, they will likely prefer a phone call to confirm.                                      

The attitude of your dental team can significantly influence outcomes. If there’s a prevailing belief that patients won’t respond or that the schedule will be challenging to fill, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Encourage a positive mindset among your team members and foster an environment of creativity and fun. When your team believes in managing challenges and maintaining a positive attitude, it can transform the practice’s success.                     

In conclusion, addressing unresponsive patient communications requires a multifaceted approach that considers the unique circumstances of your patients and your practice. By understanding the current climate, proactively managing the schedule, utilizing technology, and fostering a positive attitude, dental practices can navigate this challenge more effectively and maintain a thriving patient base.

April Brogan

April Brogan

Director of New Business & Practice Relationships

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