Months of Overdue Patients — Just How Do You Get Them In The Office?

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How reaching out to your patients (and your approach) can mean all the difference to shrinking your extensive backlog.

Right now, businesses are reopening, and we’re all getting back to work in the wake of COVID-19 and quarantine. Dental offices are no exception. For many of you, your office has been shut down for months or may still be shut down. You have a seemingly endless list of overdue patients you need to get out of the reactivation bucket and back into the office. I know that the number one question on your mind right now is, “How do I catch up on my patient backlog and compensate for all the lost revenue while my office was closed?”


Doing both of these quickly can seem like a tall order, which is why I’ve spent every moment I could since this whole thing began to make it easier and more achievable. And my aims are a little higher than just making up for lost time. I want you to make the best of your reopening so that your dental office can come back stronger than ever.


I’ve been working with over 50 different dental offices around the country for months putting together a plan to make this possible. After weeks of discussions, studies, and field tests, we’ve broken down which variables you need to hit out of the ballpark to get through our current post-coronavirus environment with a dental practice that’s thriving.


Your top priority right now should be getting your patients through the front doors of your office, and that starts with your patient outreach. First and foremost, you have to make sure your patients feel safe and comfortable coming into the office. I’m sure this seems like a no-brainer since the same was true even before COVID-19, but now it is more important than ever as we finally see the other side of quarantine. How to do this depends on how they feel about our current strange times.

Not everyone holds the same beliefs about our current health crisis. So you need to understand exactly where your patients are coming from the moment you get on the phone with them to schedule their overdue appointment. Typically, patients tend to be from one of two camps about our nation’s response to COVID-19. One side thinks that the coronavirus is a big deal and that our quarantine efforts are essential. They may even believe that we haven’t done enough, and lifting shutdown orders is a huge mistake. Other patients, however, believe the exact opposite, and they think the severity of the situation has been exaggerated a bit too much.


It’s absolutely vital that you quickly identify which side of the debate your patient is on. This is as simple as asking them how they’re doing when you reach out to them. How you talk to your patients will depend on which camp they’re in. You need to be like a mirror, reflecting and addressing the level of urgency and concern of your patients.


If you’re on the phone with a patient who’s worried and afraid about COVID-19, use this time to shine a light on how much your office cares, and to let your patients know that they’re safe and in good hands with you. Be sure to let them know what measures and precautions you and your staff are taking to keep them safe. Tell them about the CDC’s recommendations, like COVID-19 screenings, masks, gowns, gloves, and restricted patient capacity. Explain how your office is going above and beyond these safety regulations to stop the possible spread of the virus. Maybe you’re using ozone therapy to clear and kill viruses and bacteria or multiple air filtration systems in the patient operatory. Also, don’t be afraid to let them ask any questions so you can directly address their specific fears and anxieties about the situation.


However, if your patient thinks COVID-19 is no big deal, then book their appointment like you usually would. Match their level of concern, but let them know the precautions they need to take when coming in and nothing more unless they ask. You might still want to tell them the updates and upgrades you’ve made, but don’t do this. I promise you that patients sitting in this camp will be much happier with your service.


Making up for the hundreds of overdue patients in desperate need of hygiene appointments or who were mid-treatment when quarantine went into effect isn’t going to be easy. It can be frustrating at times, especially as you first start getting into the flow of gauging patients’ reactions, but you can’t give up. To make up for lost revenue these past two months, you must continue to book and stack up patient appointments over the next weeks.


It will take a lot of hard work, energy, and determination to work your way through the list and get your overdue patients back into the office. However, just as with anything else worth doing, you’ll only get better and more efficient at it with time, as we continue to move forward and hopefully away from the worst of these stressful times. Soon, this will be a smooth and well-oiled process for you.

If you need any further advice or help adapting your office to the post-coronavirus environment, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office and me. We’re happy to help you out and guide you down the right path to getting your schedule back in order and filled. We want to make sure that your practice’s transition is a massive success so that you’re not just surviving but also building your practice up to levels it hadn’t reached even before this crisis began.

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