Recall is one of the most important practice strategies. Implementing a successful recall program is the cornerstone to many successful practices. Effective recall results in higher patient retention and compliance. Here are some tips on implementing an effective recall program through pre-appointment, postcards, email and phone calls.
- Setting up the next appointment before the patient leaves the office is a popular recall system and doctors who use it are often strong proponents.
Here are a few thoughts:
- Preappointing is generally regarded as having the highest recall success rate.
- Preappoints must be confirmed and reconfirmed. Some practices send a written notice of the appointment date and time and ask the patient to call to reschedule if needed. Patients who don’t respond are called by the office staff to confirm. These calls must be made far enough in advance to allow vacated appointment slots to have a good chance of being filled by others. A final confirmation call may be done the day before the appointment.
- A good technique is to offer either preappointing or conventional mail reminders and let the patient choose.
The simple postcard is still widely used and has some advantages.
- High monthly card volume can be handled easily with a postage meter and automatic feeder.
- If the patient does not respond to the initial recall notice by scheduling the appointment, a second card may be sent in the following month. This second postcard increases recall success significantly.
- The card is a handy tangible reminder that patients often keep (or place on the refrigerator) until the appointment is made.
Friendly follow-up phone calls in conjunction with preappointing or mail recall can be a very effective method of increasing recall success. The staffer should be well-prepared with the reason the visit is needed for this patient and may offer some basic patient education about eye health. If the patient declines making the appointment, the staff person can determine if the patient wishes to receive future reminders. If there is some dissatisfaction with eye care services, the staffer is in a great position to find out about the problem and correct it.
Sending appointment reminders via email is a growing trend in eye care which brings benefits and challenges. Saving the postage cost of snail mail is a plus, but doctors who use the technique find that email is more reliable for some people than others. Anti-spam filters, changing addresses and family members who open messages but don’t save them can cause issues.