When someone says “chart audit,” most dental professionals freak out. You are busy and you can’t imagine when or how you would have the time to do it. Let me give you a couple of suggestions:
1) Morning meetings
One of the main items on the agenda for the morning meeting should be reviewing the treatment plans of the patients coming in that day. The goal is to identify the next phase of diagnosed treatment. Then, when the patient is in the treatment area, take a photograph of the area where the next phase of treatment is necessary. Spend time with the patient stressing the importance of this treatment.
As you are speaking about the next phase of treatment, introduce your patient-financing program. For example, you might say:
“Mrs. Jones, let me tell you about a new program that we have in our practice. It’s called ABC Financing, and this company is our new financial partner. ABC works with us to help our patients finance their dental care. The treatment that the doctor has recommended to you is so important, and I know you don’t want to put it off and risk having more problems. With ABC, you can finance your care. The monthly payments are small, you can take longer to pay for your treatment, and you won’t have to come up with a large sum of money all at once. Would you like to speak with a member of our business team to learn more about this program? Great! Then, if you have no further questions about the treatment itself, I’ll go with you to the business office where the business team will discuss our program with you. It’s great! Many of our patients have found it helpful.”
2) Complete chart audit
If you want to build your practice more quickly and increase your production in a profound way, conduct a full-blown chart audit.
Handle a chart audit in the following manner:
Audit 20 charts per week. Go through each chart and determine whether a patient has incomplete treatment. Patients may be past due for a hygiene appointment or they may be current in their hygiene, but they have not followed through to complete needed treatment. (Most doctors tell me that if a treatment plan is six months old or older, they want to see the patient in hygiene and do another evaluation. Discuss this as a team.) Once you have audited the 20 charts, begin a telephone campaign. Do not audit all of your charts and put off phone calls to patients. The contact with the patient is the most important moment! Make careful notes about their responses to your calls. Not every patient is going to schedule an appointment, but if 20 percent of your calls result in a scheduled appointment, that’s great! If the rate is higher, even better!
Your call to the patient might go something like this:
“Mrs. Jones, this is Cathy with Dr. Jameson’s dental office. Mrs. Jones, Dr. Jameson has reviewed your file and realized that the treatment he had recommended for you has not been completed, and he is concerned. He asked that I call you today and see if you had questions about the proposed treatment.” (Then, discuss the treatment plan and stress the importance of completing it.)
“Mrs. Jones, in addition to discussing the dental treatment you need, I wanted to tell you about a new program we have in our practice. It’s called ABC Financing.” (Go into a discussion of the program as I described it in the previous paragraphs.)
Once you have gone through the first 20 charts, do the next 20, and continue at this rate until you have gone through your entire chart files. You’ll make progress - but, you have to start! You also must be consistent and persistent. The ultimate goal is to audit all your charts, reactivate and schedule patients for treatment, introduce your patients to your new patient-financing program, and increase the production of the practice. It all begins when you pull that first chart!
Patients will be glad to know you care and that you haven’t forgotten about them. At the same time, you are fulfilling your responsibility to take care of them. Many of the patients you call will schedule appointments. They will not be upset with you because you called. In fact, they will be glad you contacted them!
(For more information on chart auditing, order “Collect What You Produce” from PennWell Books.)
Dr. Cathy Jameson is president and CEO of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental practice-management consulting, lecturing, seminar, and product provider. An accomplished speaker, writer, and workshop leader, Cathy earned a doctorate in organizational psychology, focusing her studies on effective stress-controlled management. Cathy’s books, “Great Communication = Great Production” and “Collect What You Produce,” are top sellers for PennWell Books. You may reach her toll-free at (877) 369-5558, email her at email@example.com, or visit her Web site at www.jamesonmanagement.com.