Optometric Management Tip # 271   -   Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Many readers were surprised to see preappointing listed in my top ten misconceptions article. After all, as I heard from many of you, itís working great in lots of practices. And I donít doubt that. I firmly believe there is more than one way to build a successful practice. I would not recommend dropping a preappoint system that works well. I really donít feel all that passionately about the type of recall system used in a practice, as long as some system is in place.

Preappointing is not necessarily a bad thing at all, but it also should not be considered as the ďkey to building a busy practiceĒ as I worded it in the article. My own practice and many others that Iíve seen are examples of very busy, high gross practices that use a mail recall system. That is why preappointing made my list of misconceptions.

Weigh the good with the bad

There are pros and cons with all recall systems. Preappointing enjoys a higher rate of return than other methods, but here are the negatives many proponents donít notice.

A mail/phone recall procedure

My preferred recall method is a letter or post card mailed one month prior to the recall date, with a follow up post card one month later to those who do not schedule. This approach is easily processed with every major office management software program on the market.

To improve the recall success rate, a follow-up phone call to patients who do not respond to either mailing can be added if the practice has a very friendly and caring staff member. The phone call must be very non-confrontational and not pushy. It is made to check that everything was OK with the previous service and to ask when the patient would like to be recalled in the future. Many of these will simply schedule on the spot.

The recall system should be set up to occur each year for at least five years, unless the patient instructs your office to stop.

The key to a busy practice

So what is the key to a busy practice if itís not preappointing? Itís customer service. Itís creating an environment where the patient knows their needs come first and where eye care is different and exciting. A successful business is one where customers want to return.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management