It's time for Mr. Smith's annual eye health examination.
What method does your office use to remind him to make an appointment?
� No reminder, he'll return when his glasses break or
when he notices visual changes.
� Postcard reminder to call the office for an
� "If you will it, they'll come."
� A follow-up phone call near appointment time as an
adjunct to preappointment.
If your office doesn't preappoint patients,
you're slighting yourself, and I'll tell you why.
I believe preappointment is the recall
method of choice for assessing patients' eye health and for a successful
practice. This highly effective practice management tool will allow you to
better serve your patient's visual needs on a regular, prescribed basis.
Preappointing will also help your practice grow and will professionally
demonstrate your concern for your patients' visual well-being.
The late G.N. Getman, O.D., wrote,
"Your patients don't care that you know until they know that you
Recall rate statistics
Statistics from a Harriet Stein practice
management seminar indicate that the success rate of traditional postcard
reminders yields an average effective recall rate of 5%. That is, for every 100
postcards your office mails, five patients will respond.
I've had a much higher return rate with
preappointing, which is why I think it's the best recall method. Based on my
personal experience with preappointing patients, I can expect a minimum recall
rate of 50% to 65%. We track our success by tallying the number of preappointments
or changed appointments and dividing that by the number of patients we reach by
Try it out yourself
You, too, can achieve great preappointment
recall rates, but to do so, both you and your staff must agree that regular,
scheduled vision care is crucial to proper patient care. Then you can move on
to implementing this method. The following explains how my office goes about
After a patient's exam, once I've made all
the necessary recommendations and have answered all of his questions, I look
the patient in the eyes and say, "It's important that I see you in a year.
It doesn't mean that your prescription will need changing, but you can get your
favorite glaucoma test (the patient usually smiles at this). I'll look inside
your eyes and make sure everything's going smoothly."
Invariably, the patient nods affirmatively
and says, "Okay."
If he's a new patient, the computer
generates a welcome letter, which includes the date and time of his next
appointment. To meet annual insurance carrier requirements and to keep the
appointment the same day of week, simply add 6 days to the current exam date
(for example, if his appointment was Tuesday, June 1, then add six to get
Tuesday, June 7, for next year's date).
Four weeks before the recall date, the
computer generates a reminder letter by batch to the patient restating the
importance of the annual eye health examination and reminding him of the date
and time of his scheduled appointment.
The letter requests that the patient call
the office to reschedule if the preappointed time isn't convenient. It also
explains that if we don't hear from the patient, our receptionist will call in
a week to confirm that no changes need to be made.
Only when the appointment is accepted or
changed is it added to the appointment book. All appointments are confirmed the
day before an appointment with a phone call.
Use of preappointing will have a profound
positive result in appreciative patients and a robust practice. Are you willing
to accept these results?
Dr. Giannone is in solo practice and
provides general and behavioral optometric services. You can e-mail him at
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2000