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Leah Crites4 min read

The Art of Sending Reminders to dental Patients: Understanding the Why and When

When considering revenue in dental practices, there's often a strong emphasis on attracting new patients, sometimes at the expense of overlooking existing ones. However, it's crucial to recognize that a significant portion—over 80%—of revenue stems from repeat patients.

Ensuring patients stay up-to-date with their recall and hygiene appointments not only boosts revenue for the dental practice but also guarantees top-notch patient care. It's a mutually beneficial situation!

At RecallMax, we specialize in patient retention strategies and frequently receive inquiries about the most effective methods to encourage patients to return for their appointments. One crucial aspect involves establishing and maintaining a reminder system to keep patients informed about their upcoming appointments. This article delves into the importance of implementing a reminder system and identifies optimal timing for sending reminders to maximize your recall of patients. So, without further adieu, let’s get into it!


Why send reminders?


It maximizes your revenue and patient retention

First and foremost, the number one reason for sending reminders to your patients is that it will help keep your schedule full, maximize your revenue, and help retain more patients. Your patients lead busy lives, leading to appointments being forgotten. In fact, 44.8% of appointments get missed due to forgetfulness. 

That is no small number, but it’s something you can directly impact by having a reminder system. By actively contacting and scheduling recall appointments, you may start to see your attendance rates hit around 95%!

On top of this, reminding your patients will also help promote your practice through patient referrals. By going the extra mile to show your patients how much you care, they’ll be more inclined to tell their friends and family about your quality service.

Increase productivity and improve your office culture

Preparing for an appointment takes time and effort from many staff members. However, an average of 42% of patients never make it to their appointment, wasting time and money.

Missed and cancelled appointments can wreak havoc on your staff’s productivity, and in some cases, lead to longer wait times for patients who await their appointments. By sending reminders to your patients, it allows you to improve your staff’s quality of life at work.

Improve the patient experience

There is no question that patients value their health, but patients also value their experiences. It’s never enough to manage and monitor your patient’s health; your patients need to know that you are with them every step of the way!

Sending reminders will help your patients know that you’re thinking of them and create a relationship that’s just a little more meaningful to them. 

More chances to manage your patient’s health

Reminders can also trigger a domino effect that could provide more chances to improve your patient’s oral health. 

Reminding your patients will help them spend more time improving their oral health by brushing, flossing, or attending scheduled appointments.

When Should You Send Reminders?


Timing is key

Most researchers recommend sending patient reminders closer to the appointment date, with multiple reminders being more effective than just one.

One study discovered that sending reminders 3 days before the appointment followed by another reminder 1 day before was more effective than sending just one appointment reminder either 3 days or 1 day before.

However, one thing that you should be aware of is not to send reminders too early because patients can forget about them. Early reminders serve no purpose for you or your patient.

What's the best method for sending reminders?

Knowing where to send your reminders is key to making sure your patients see them. Each person is different, and each has a preferred way to be contacted. One of the first things you should offer your patients is a variety of contact options they can choose from.

Some of the most common reminders include emails, text messages, or phone calls. It’s always a good practice to ask how patients would like to be contacted after each appointment, in case they wish to change the way you contact them.

General reminder tips


Less is more

Sending reminders is a delicate balance between making sure your patient gets the most impact of the reminder and not irritating them.

One thing you should not do is send multiple reminders every week leading up to their appointment. If you do this, your patient can get annoyed and block the messages altogether, making it harder than ever to remind them of their appointments.

Instead, only send a couple of reminders (2 or 3 max) a few days before the appointment. You won’t annoy the patient, and they will likely appreciate the space you’ve given them.

Content is king

It’s one thing to send a reminder; it’s another to send a poorly crafted reminder. So, if you’re going to send a message, make sure you’re crafting a message that resonates with your patient. The most effective way to communicate with your patient is to personalize your message as much as you can. You can do this by including their name, who their appointment is with and what treatment they are scheduled for. The trick here is for your message not to appear automated, as personal engagement delivers six times better response rates.

Need help getting started?

Patient reminders are crucial for ensuring more patients are coming to their appointments. If you’re looking for a new and innovative way to communicate with your patients, contact us today. We can help maximize your practice and improve your patient’s experience by setting up a recall system that works.


Leah Crites

Leah started her career in the dental industry in 2002, managing one of North America’s largest dental practices. From there she moved on to run her own practice management consultancy firm, which focused on system development, implementation and performance analysis. Over the course of her career, and backed with over two decades of invaluable experience, Leah has become an expert in optimizing practices to deliver long-term growth. Now, as Vice President of Client Success at RecallMax™, Leah utilizes her passion to develop advanced education programs and provide consultative advice to dental practices across Canada and the USA. Leah is a Founding Advisory Board Member at Women in DSO, established in 2019 to empower and develop women leaders in the DSO and dental industry.