“Throughout health care in North America, it has been estimated that 50-80% of professional services extended are currently being provided to recall patients. Here’s eight key steps to follow.”
“In our increasingly managed health care environment, it has become absolutely essential that the chiropractic team be able to effectively and predictably reactivate our patients of record. Let’s face it — with the escalating intense competition for new patients, logic would tell us that we can expect to spend more time and money generating new patients in the future than at any time in the past.
While many practices continue to pour precious resources into the marketing domain, we frequently fail to notice the most valuable asset we possess, and that is our existing reactivateable patient base. Throughout health care in North America, it has been estimated that 50-80% of professional services extended are currently being provided to “”recall patients””. Would it not then seem logical that we should have our team totally integrated in the skills of reactivation? Actually, reactivation is a very simple process, provided that certain key steps are followed. Let’s examine those steps:
1. Review the Patient’s Chart. Most reactivation phone calls fail simply because the patient does not feel an intense connection with the caller. That should come as no surprise, since the caller is typically unfamiliar with the patient she is calling. This impersonal dilemma can be easily overcome by reviewing the patient’s chart prior to making the phone call. In reviewing the patient’s chart, we would specifically look for four types of information.
- Personal information: Kids, hobbies, special upcoming events, etc.
- Chiropractic information: Previous condition, services rendered, services not completed, etc.
- Medical information: Any significant medical information that could have chiropractic significance.
- Financial information: Has the patient been responsible financially in our practice?
2. Get In Touch With Our Commitment To Serve. This step is simply a momentary pause prior to picking up the telephone. It is important to remind ourselves that we are calling to serve the patient, not to serve our appointment book. Patients pick up these subtle little distinctions.
3. Introduction and Re-creation of Rapport. Most reactivation calls start with an introduction, and move directly into the purpose of the phone call, and this is precisely why most reactivation calls do not work.
Our introduction must lead directly into a personal conversation designed to reestablish rapport with the patient. This personal conversation is directed and driven by the “”personal information”” we discovered in step la. It only takes 30-60 seconds to re-create rapport, and without it, our chances of success are greatly reduced.
4. State The Purpose of The Call: “”Mrs. Jones, the purpose of my calling you today is that we haven’t seen you in our maintenance program for some time now. We are all concerned about your chiropractic health, and Dr. Smith asked me to call and get you scheduled back in, so that we can keep you healthy.””
At this point the patient will normally tell you that she hasn’t had the time to come in, or hasn’t had the money to come in. The overwhelming majority of patient objections will fall into one of these two categories.
Our next step is very important, and that step is to …
5. Listen Effectively. Our role in this step is not to debate the objection, not to argue the point, and not to try to “”fix it.”” We simply need to “”get it.”” We could say something like, “”I see how that could have kept you from coming in, and…
6. Give Them Agreement: “”I can appreciate that because my schedule gets like that sometimes, too.”” (time objection); or “” I can appreciate that because my budget gets like that sometimes, too.”” (money objection). What has just happened is that you have just bonded further with that patient, rather than being in an adversarial position in the conversation. They feel comfortable with you because you are just like them! We are, however, not going to “” buy into”” their consideration, because literally in the same breath we will say…
7. State Our Commitment: “”And, what we are really committed to is your chiropractic health, and what we have noticed consistently is that patients who stay on a regular maintenance program spend far less time (or money) in the chiropractic office. So, what I would like to do is…””
8. Schedule Next Appointment: “”Schedule your next maintenance appointment so that we can save you time (or money) and keep you healthy simultaneously.”” Basically, what we have now done is taken the patient’s primary objection and turned it 180 degrees in order to use it to our benefit. In working with literally thousands of practices throughout the U.S. and Canada, we have seen the above approach lead to a consistent 50% success rate, meaning that 50% of the patients contacted actually make appointments. In your reactivation activity, you will find that if you do not use a method with this type of success rate, your team will get frustrated and soon the game plan is shelved.
On the other hand if your success rate is 50% or above, your team will be enthused and motivated by the results. In organizing your reactivation activity it is important to establish a specific goal, both daily and long term, for each individual as well as for the team as a whole. Additionally, I would recommend that one staff member be accountable for the activity. This person’s role is to keep the momentum going, encourage the team, monitor results, and share our success. Also, significantly more staff focus can be created by attaching a specific monetary bonus to the attainment of our goals. Most staff members will perform at a higher level if we are willing to “”share the winnings”” with them.
Finally, if you want to have your staff totally trained in this skill and others, I would recommend contacting a practice management representative. You will find this person to be unconditionally committed to having you and your chiropractic team fully self-actualize your potential, as well as being fully equipped to deliver the necessary technology to make it happen.
In these competitive days, we must have all systems fully operational, and right on top of the list of systems is patient reactivation. Make this system work effectively, and you will see your practice work effectively as well.
Dr. Paul Bass is a Co-Founder and Director of Training for Fortune Practice Management, one of the Anthony Robbins Companies in San Diego, California. He received his D.D.S. degree from the University of Tennessee in 1972 and has been in private practice for twenty years. He is married and has three children ages 18, 16, and 13.
“For the past ten years Dr. Bass has been a perpetual student of personal growth and development, with a specific focus on team building and motivation. Since 1988, Paul has worked closely with Anthony Robbins in the development and delivery of management and team building seminars throughout the United States and Canada. Dr. Bass has presented over 2,000 seminars, workshops, and training programs spanning a period of ten years and positively impacting tens of thousands of people with his work.”