The patient needs to reappoint for their next hygiene visit.
Schedule a hygiene appointment, utilize a “reason for return” which is customized to the individual patient and educate the patient about your confirmation process.
So that the patient senses that your recommendations are customized to their individual needs, it is critical that communication about the preventive care system be consistent with all team members. Reinforce with the patients the “WHEN, WHY AND WHAT” of the next visit and document on the treatment plan. When would the doctor and hygienist like to see the patient again for preventive care? Why we want to see them and What we are planning to do at that visit. Recommend the interval for the return visit and verbally use the name of the month rather than say “I will see you in 6 months.” An example might be:
“Mrs. Smith, so that we can evaluate the fracture lines on the lower right molar and maintain your healthy gum tissue, Dr. would like to examine you in July, sometime after the Fourth! At this visit we will scale and polish your teeth, take x-rays to see between the teeth and monitor the bone around the teeth.”
The patient will associate their visit with an event or seasonal activity, reducing the frequency of broken or canceled appointments. The Why helps to reinforce the importance of the visit. The hygienist schedules the appointment and educates the patient on the preventive care system. Explain the method the practice uses to contact the patient about this appointment:
“Mrs. Smith, one month prior to this visit you will receive an email from our office confirming this appointment.”
- Show a copy of an email reminder (or a postcard)
“You will also receive an email and text message 2 days prior to the appointment. I look forward to seeing you in July!”
Whenever possible the hygienist should pre-appoint the next visit. A computer station in the operatory or in an administrative area near the hygiene operatories allows this to happen efficiently. The appointment book needs to be prepared ahead of time to hold ideal times for certain procedures, such as scaling & root planning and new patient exams / prophy’s. To provide flexibility, hold one day in the last week of the month to accommodate last minute schedule changes (continuing education course, sick days).