Optometric Management Tip # 510   -   Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Get More from your Recall System

I'm constantly looking for ways to increase patient demand for my practice and for my clients.  Everything flows from the appointment schedule.  If it's booked solid and booked ahead several days, you will obviously increase gross and net revenue, but strong patient demand can also lead to other strategies you could implement:

Here is my list of the major factors that influence patient demand:

All of these are important and worthy of our attention, but I will focus on the last point for this article.

Recall is the core of patient demand
Established patients make up about 70% of the exams performed in an established practice.  If we can find a way to increase the effectiveness of the recall system so more patients return in a timely manner, we can greatly increase the number of people in the appointment schedule.

The most popular methods for notifying patients that they are due for their eye exam are postcard reminders and preappointing.  Email and texting are increasingly being used as an alternative recall method and for confirming existing appointments.  These are all excellent techniques that should be a major part of your recall system, but a strong weapon that is rarely used is the human voice.  The personal touch of a phone call, when done properly, can greatly increase recall success.

The telephone recall system
In my view, telephone recall occurs as a follow-up to the other methods.  A telephone recall list is generated by the practice management system each month.  This list consists of patients who are six months past due for their exam.  These are patients who did not respond to the postcard or pre-appoint recall method.

It is extremely important that the recall phone call is performed with great care and caution.  A phone call can be viewed as intrusive by some people and might feel like a solicitation for business if not handled well.  I recommend an office manager or the doctor listen to a sample of these calls to ensure the patient perception is positive.

I don't use scripts very often because I prefer staff members to sound natural using their own words, but I help them with an opening statement as you'll see below.  A good recall specialist can take it from there.  More important than a script is getting the right staff member to make the calls.  We want someone who is sweet, caring and kind by nature.

A guide for making recall phone calls
Consider modifying this list to suit your practice and print it to assist your staff with the telephone recall project. 

Best wishes for continued success,

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