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Dental Patient Reactivation System

Dental Patient Reactivation System


Create a mailing list of patients who have not been in for at least twelve months.

Also include patients who have pending unscheduled treatment from the previous twelve months.

Go back at least five years. 

Run your list against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database




Letters often go unread and postcards can get tossed, but detachable (rip) gift cards tend to get held onto. 

Detachable (rip) gift cards can be printed on normal paper stock or on high quality plastic (costs 3.5X more).

The higher the quality the better.

Many practices get a 10%-20% response rate without making any calls using a gift card. The dollar value of the gift card is up to you. I recommend $50.00 - $100.00.

Plastic gift card vendors can be found by Google search.

Mail permit: If you do not want to send first class you can get a mail permit which cuts costs by about 50% over first class but, you will spend additional time preparing the mailing.


“Fee discounts should be reflected in the total fee that is entered on the claim.”
-Delta Dental

If your fee is $500.00 and you give the patient a $100.00 discount, then $400.00 becomes the fee that is actually charged and entered on the claim as the total fee. By entering $400.00 on the claim, you ensure insurance providers calculate payment based on the fee actually charged.


After Labor Day insurance patients with outstanding treatment or unused benefits should be sent an “Use It or Lose It” postcard.

Do not include a Gift Card.

Depending on the practice, you will want to do up to three “Use It or Lose It” mailings between Labor Day and early December. This requires advanced planning.

Google “Dental Use It or Lose It Postcard” for design ideas.

Postcards should be 5x7 or 6 x 9 so they stand out against smaller postcards. If you’re going to print addresses on the postcards use uncoated stock. Some have found a green neon color gets better results.


Patient list: Go through your inactive patient files breaking them down into the following categories:

a. Patients who have not been seen within the last year but, have unscheduled treatment.
b. Patients who have not been in for 12 to 18 months.
c. Patients who have not been in for 18 to 24 months.
d. Patients who have not been in for over 24 months.

Start with group "a" and “b” shortly after your mailing goes out.


Reactivation calls should be spread out over the course of each day. That way calls don’t get backlogged and making calls does not become burdensome. This takes discipline so, it is vital that the employee doing the calls report the following stats daily:

# of calls made daily
Patient’s last name who scheduled
Appointment date
Initials of employee who made appointment
Results: Arrived, Cancelled or No Showed


The script below need not be memorized. Use it as an outline. Practice with the employee(s) assigned who will do reactivation calls so they can do it naturally and comfortably. They need to “make it their own”. Do this by having a staff member or the dentist play the role of the patient. Do an audio recording of the role playing if you like. Listening to oneself is a highly effective learning tool.

Chart review: Quickly review the patient’s chart before calling. You want to know when and what the last treatment was so that when you call you can communicate something such as, “Dr. Jones is concerned about your tooth on the lower left and you don't want it become a more expensive issue down the road”.

Tip: The words “You” and “Your” help make it personal.

Also, when reviewing the patient’s chart, see if the patient has been on vacation, attended a wedding, etc. It’s just good manners to ask about such things without taking up too much of the patient’s time or being intrusive but, keep it real and natural.


Hello Mr. Smith, this is _____________ from Dr. ________ office. How are you?

Weren’t you planning a trip to Paris the last time we spoke?

The dentist just reviewed your chart and he/she noticed that you haven't been in since ______________ . He/she asked me to call you as you are overdue for your oral cancer screening and periodontal evaluation.

When is the best time to schedule? I have 11am Tuesday or Thursday at 3pm.

Important: “Cancer” is a trigger word. Trigger words cause patients to act.

Schedule as soon as possible: Do not ask when they can come in. Instead ALWAYS offer two specific time slots as close to the present date as possible. The odds increase the patient will cancel or no show the further out you schedule and then you will be back to calling that patient again.

Do not multi task when speaking to any patient. It is bad manners. Give all patients your full, undivided attention whether in person or on the phone. Without patients there is not a practice. Treat them as VIPs.

Patients who will not schedule: Two common reasons patients won’t schedule are:

1. The patient does not understand the value. Solution: Educate them.

2. The patient had a negative experience in the office. Solution: Ask. Let the patient tell you about it. Handle accordingly

If the patient still won’t schedule, the dentist can call the patient. Sometimes just the fact of the dentist calling will get a patient to schedule. If not, the dentist will be wise to check the above two points.

Dental Practice Consulting: Scheduling Protocol

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There is the good, the bad and the ugly of dental practice management, but many dentists will still tell you the probability is your dental consulting will work if you and your consultant are on the same page. It stands to reason that if a dental consultant had little value, worth or benefit that consultant could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long.  A veteran dental consultant is also a "personal coach" who shold bring management wisdom based on "in the trenches" experience along with systems and protocols to that have been successfully implemented in other practices. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what systems work and don't across many dental practices. 


New Patient Phone Call

Insurance Processing

New Patient Experience and Patient Education

Financial Arrangements



Unscheduled Treatment 


Daily and Weekly Checklists

General Policy Manual 

Staff Accountability

What gets monitored, gets managed. It is as simple as that. The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue for re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee.


What most practice owners are lack in knowledge is not how to book an appointment, but rather how to be an effective leader. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. 

Questions To Ask 

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?

  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance?There are advantages to both.

  3. If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.

  4. Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.

  5. The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.  


Top Dental Practice Mangement Consultant

Shane Blake DDS Coudersport, PA

My name is Kevin Tighe. Consultant. Coach. Mentor.

My mission is to advise, recommend and help implement proven systems to grow your practice . 

Before joining the Cambridge team I was in charge of setting up workshops for large nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from several world-class business consultants, including a dental practice management guru, which led to a position at Cambridge as their seminar organizer. In time, I began crisscrossing the country delivering seminars myself for the better part of a decade. Subsequently, I moved up to senior consultant and eventually partner and now sole owner. 


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