According to the American Dental Association (ADA), an inactive patient is one who is in your records but hasn’t received services in the dental practice for the past two years. These patients may have foregone treatment due to a variety of reasons, including relocation, change or loss of insurance coverage, or dissatisfaction with staff or care.
Of course, the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and temporary closures undoubtedly contributed to more patients who delayed treatment and simply put off returning.
Whatever the cause, patient reactivation is a vital tool for ensuring the success of your dental practice. Here are five steps to take for effectively reactivating lapsed patients.
1. Compile a List
The first thing to do is identify which patients are considered inactive, perhaps 12-18 months since the last scheduled or missed appointment. This can be done manually in the active patient records or through your recordkeeping software.
Be sure to note their name, contact information, and last appointment date for easy communication and reference. Consider prioritizing patients with interrupted treatment plans or those requiring comprehensive care or sedation.
2. Make Contact
Reach out at first by mobile phone since that’s how the majority of us communicate now. If the patient has given their okay or requested text messaging, then a timely text may be all the nudge they need. Follow up with an email reminding them of their last appointment. For an additional touchpoint, send a written letter or postcard inviting them back.
Be sure to personalize any communication and let your dormant patients know that you value their business and more importantly, the state of their oral health.
3. Digital Targeting
In addition to traditional methods of contacting current and past patients, there are multiple cutting-edge tools to assist in patient reactivation.
You can use the inactive patient’s IP address to target them with internet display ads that follow them on their various devices and internet travels, reminding them to schedule.
Another effective technique we at RAMP use is Facebook advertising. By running a list of the inactive patient’s email address and telephone number through Facebook, it tells us how many accounts of that patient can be reached. Then a simple ad is designed with your logo and a “we miss you” message appears on their page, helping to initiate patient reactivation.
4. Provide Incentives
Once you’ve identified and contacted your wayward patients, how do you entice them to schedule that overdue appointment? As mentioned before, let them know that their smiles and oral health are your priority. Most people are anxious about dentist appointments so a friendly, welcoming tone can go a long way to reassure those who have delayed out of fear.
This is also a great opportunity to incentivize them with special offers, limited-time promotions, or discounts, such as:
- Free hygiene or x-rays
- Complimentary in-office whitening treatment
- Gift bag of dental products
- 20% off first cleaning
Social media can be a great place to engage past customers with contests or challenges that offer one of the above enticements as a prize.
(Always be conscious of potential advertising restrictions with your local regulatory board.)
Follow Up & Follow Through
Don’t drop the ball. It’s natural for people to ignore a voicemail or miss an email, so set a schedule of courteous reminders over several weeks. Combine the follow-up contact using different forms of delivery – phone, email, direct mail – because people’s preferences vary.
Patient reactivation is a team effort. Appoint the best team members to personally reach out to patients and designate a set amount of time each day or week to spend on the task. Successful reactivation – and patient retention – is more cost-effective than acquiring new patients. By taking these five simple steps, you’ll remind patients why they chose your practice in the first place.
At RAMP, we’re committed to helping build all aspects of the dental practice, from reaching potential new patients to retargeting inactive ones. Give us a call or email us today for a complimentary review of your current marketing strategy.