Patients Lost in Never Never Land?

You know how you randomly think of a patient or client you haven’t seen for a while and you wonder whatever happened to them?  Does your staff sometimes offer to purge your files and take out people you haven’t seen for a while and it seems a little (or a lot) more than it should be.  Has the person really gone to Never Never Land and become a “Lost Patient” or can something be done to bring them back into your practice?

Your Untapped Resource

The answer is that about 20% of your inactive patients (which is about 1 out of 5) can probably be reactivated back into the practice with some effective protocols and tools.

A reactivated patient or client is considered as good as acquiring a new one.  It takes a lot less time, energy and effort to reactivate an inactive patient that it does to market and find new ones. If you want to bump up your practice, here is the first place to start.

How do they get lost?

Here are a few of the ways patients have gotten lost in Never Never Land:

  • The person left the practice with an appointment for a procedure or treatment and then called in and left a message to cancel it because they are “going to be on holidays then and will call back afterwards to reschedule”, but then never do.

The reasons for them doing this are many and varied.  Maybe they changed their mind about going ahead with what was presented.  Maybe they didn’t like somebody in the practice.  Maybe their spouse (when they got home) said “no” to them going ahead with the treatment.  Perhaps they didn’t understand the value of the appointment and therefore don’t consider it important.  This leaves them without a subsequent appointment and they get forgotten.

  • Your staff are calling the “Lost Patient” at the wrong times of the day and so can’t reach them. Messages left may be being ignored due to time of day received.
  • The patient may have experienced a difficulty or problem with the treatment proposed and are afraid to come back, so they say they are “too busy” when your staff call them.
  • Your staff get too busy and have no time set aside for reactivation of past patients.
  • Your staff has had failures trying to recover the lost patients, and are at a loss as to how to be successful at it.
  • The person moved away and forgot to say goodbye!

How to Be Successful at Reactivations

  1. Make sure that the person who is doing the reactivations reads the patient’s chart thoroughly and understands what the patient is supposed to come in for next.
  2. Use all phone numbers that you have to reach the person. Calling between 4-7 p.m. is often the best time to reach people.
  3. When you get them on the phone, establish some basic rapport with the person and then ask specifically about the condition that is to be treated or that was last treated. Get them discussing it so you find out what they’re thinking.
  4. If they express any type of difficulty or concern, get them booked for an appointment.
  5. If everything is fine, tell them that’s great, and let them know that in order to maintain this good condition, they should come in for their next visit.
  6. If they express concerns that can’t be handled by the staff, they can tell the person that that is all the more reason for them to come and see the doctor to go over that.
  7. Left messages should be: This is ______ calling from Dr. ______’s office, please give us a call at ______.  Don’t explain why.
  8. Be persistent and be caring. Don’t give up!

Follow Up

Be sure that once you set up the program to get reactivations going, you have the staff track and report on the exact results. This can be in writing to you once a week.

By the way, once you have gotten the patient or client back into the practice for an appointment, you need to educate them and activate them as dedicated patients or clients who want the best healthcare you can provide.

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