What is patient recall and why should you pay attention to it?
Do you want your patients to keep coming back to your practice? If the answer is yes, as it should be, then you need to have a very important system in place. That system is recall.
With recall, you would be able to re-engage your patients.
What is Recall?
Patient recalls are timed and regular appointments. These are usually regular hygiene check-ups that are necessary for providing continued care to patients. These hygiene check-ups are kept at an interval of 6 months or less or more depending upon each practice’s preference. Recalls are equally important to both the practice and the patients.
Regular check-ups allow the patients to remain healthy and safe, and the practice to generate more revenue.
Humans tend to respond better to known and fixed situations, as opposed to ambiguous ones. It’s obvious, isn’t it? If we know where we are going and why we are going to that place we are more at ease with the decision.
This behavioral tendency can be put to good use in healthcare practices in the form of recall. When patients are given a date and time for a recurring health checkup, it translates into a fixed event. Reminders sent to them about this event will further solidify the ‘fixed’ nature of the event.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should use recall
Patients are informed in advance – As discussed above when patients are informed and aware of their appointments, they are more likely to follow them through. It creates in them, a sense of responsibility to respond to the reminders.
It’s pertinent for the patients well being as well that they undergo regular health check-ups and make a habit out of it.
Save yourself from loss in revenue – When all the slots in your practice are scheduled and you have the surety that patients would turn up, you have saved yourself from a significant loss in revenue. Imagine that a check-up is scheduled for a patient, but they don’t show up. The slot that could have been filled by another patient is now empty. Not only is the doctor’s time now not accounted for but now you have also incurred a significant loss. These situations can arise several times, thus multiplying your practice’s loss.
A lot of times patients missing their check-ups is inevitable due to unforeseen circumstances. Though other situations such as the patients forgetting about their appointments can be controlled. Recall systems that send regular reminders to patients about the date and time of their upcoming appointments will help reduce these no-shows in your practice.
Retain your patients – When you forget to follow up with your patients, you risk losing them. If you keep in constant touch with your patients, they remember you and pay heed to the updates you send to them. So, when you remind them of their routine check-ups they will most likely follow through and turn up for the appointment. This in turn can lead to higher patient engagement.
How to recall effectively?
Before setting up a recall system, you must educate your patients about the importance of regular hygiene check-ups. Regular check-ups can unearth hidden problems or help detect serious issues, if any, at earlier stages.
Once your patients know why it’s essential for them to visit your practice regularly, the following recall system setup can be comparatively easier.
Here are some methods to improve patient recall in your practice –
Schedule the appointments as soon as you can
What this means is that if you get your patients to book an appointment while they are in your office, it’s easier to fill up your slots and get the patient to come back. Again, saying “come back in 6 months “ might not stress the importance of the hygiene check-up and the patient would probably forget about this ambiguous statement. So, the best thing to do is to ‘fix’ that appointment for good.
You might also find that patients are hesitant to book an appointment in advance owing to their ‘schedule’ being full or not knowing “how my schedule will look like in 6 months”. Although these are valid reasons, they might not translate well for your practice. In such a case, you can inform your patients that you have set a date for the appointment and that they can easily cancel or reschedule the appointment if it isn’t convenient for them. Or another route to take is informing the patients how your schedule would be full and it might be difficult for them to get a slot in the future.
Set up Reminders
Reminding patients of the scheduled appointment should be done properly and spaced out timely. A good practice to adopt is sending the confirmation text/ reminder the time the appointment gets scheduled, followed by a reminder 2 weeks before the appointment, and finally ending it with a reminder 24 hours before the appointment. With Emitrr, you would be able to schedule patient reminders as you see fit.
Decide on the best mode of communication
This plays a very important role in getting your patients to come back to your practice. How you reach out to them should be planned out beforehand and preferably with their permission. Knowing which mode of communication your patients prefer would ensure that your reminders reach them and are also read. Text, email, or a phone call? Ask your patients how to reach them and set the reminders accordingly. This also helps you in making a very important decision that is “ which appointment reminder system to pick?”. You need to find a software that would allow omnichannel communication, so as to connect with your customers in their preferred mode.
In the end, one thing that you should takeaway is that retaining your existing patients can contribute up to 80% of your revenue, so make sure the system that you choose for your recall is able to do justice to this number. Re-care for patients would help them stay safe and healthy, do not shy away from adopting this into your practice!