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Practice production, prioritized: Reactivating overdue patients

June 1, 2021
Levin Group has reviewed and prioritized hundreds of strategies to increase practice production. This month focuses on reactivating overdue patients.

Levin Group has reviewed and prioritized hundreds of strategies to increase practice production. Each month, we’ll highlight a powerful idea ranked in order of priority.

Reactivating overdue patients may not be the most powerful strategy to increase practice production, but it is certainly in the top 10. Reactivation today has a new definition. It refers to any patient who does not have their next appointment scheduled. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, up to this point in the pandemic approximately 15% of dental patients nationally have not returned to dental practices due to safety concerns.1 Practices should improve on the 15% patient deficit by 1% to 2% per month going forward with a goal of scheduling 98% of all patients by June 2022.

The best system-based approach is to overcommunicate with overdue patients. We suggest a “phone call first” protocol to verbally explain to every overdue patient how you are keeping them safe. Appropriate, positive scripting is essential to this effort. You can’t fully communicate that via text. Attempt to reach patients three times by phone. If unsuccessful, then move on to three positive texts. If no contact has been successful, try three positive emails. Any patient who does not schedule is then contacted every 90 days. This may feel like overkill, but keeping patients is essential to maintaining high levels of production.

And there are other hidden factors involved with reactivating patients. Patients who cancel and do not reschedule and who no-show become overdue patients who don’t have their next appointment on the books. Even if patients are simply “off cycle,” the practice will lose some level of the lifetime production associated with those patients. It all adds up, with a direct effect on revenue and income.

Let’s face it: Practices lose production all the time from overdue patients. Like any good business, the solution is to establish a well-defined system with measurements to always know where your practice stands. A strong, consistent reactivation system will retain more patients, maintain a large active patient base, and increase production over time.


1. Burger D. HPI: Consumer confidence in returning to the dental office hits new high. American Dental Association News. April 29, 2021. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2021-archive/april/consumer-confidence-in-returning-to-the-dental-office-hits-new-high

ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

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