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The Importance of a Recall System for Medical Practices

Putting Your Dux in a Row...

Medical practices can run a serious risk if their patients are not recalled for follow-up as required by medical protocols and just as important, also lose revenues. Practices can easily develop a recall system using DuxWare. This will ensure that patients will not “fall through the cracks.” Recalling patients for follow-up attention is more than just good marketing. It's an essential aspect of good medical care. In fact, a practice could be courting trouble with a potential malpractice issue if it does not bring certain patients back.

For instance, a gastroenterologist who has seen a patient with early indications of potentially cancerous polyps: professional protocols call for re-examination on a regular basis. If the patient ends up dying of colon cancer, an effective malpractice attorney is going to wonder and ask if the gastroenterologist had recalled the patient as the protocols require.

DuxWare's recall system is the logical solution for highly effective patient recall. When the physician marks “six months," or "one year" for the patient to be seen again, the instruction can be entered into the system. Having a set of categories for "reason for recall" (such as to recheck polyps) allows storing the reason until the patient is actually re-contacted.

One feature of the Recall Manager is it can automatically print out recall letters each month (or anytime you desire) before the visits are due. Those letters may include sentences or paragraphs, keyed to your "reason for recall" categories, telling the patient why the visit is important to his or her health. The letter reminds the patients to contact the office in order to schedule a follow-up appointment.

DuxWare allows the user to check off the recall patients as they schedule their appointment. This procedure records that a recall resulted in an appointment. It can also generate a list of patients who have not responded to the recall and who should be followed up further. If appropriate, the practice should send a final warning letter, retaining a copy in the chart, to each patient who fails or refuses to honor the recall effort. DuxWare will be able to generate this final letter as well.

Losing track of your recall patients can be devastating to your practice, yet can easily go unnoticed until it is too late. Every time a patient leaves your office without making a follow-up appointment you risk losing that patient. Besides, your patients lose the benefit of timely checkups and treatment. Timely recalls let patients know your practice is organized and on top of their healthcare.

By not properly managing recalls, the loss can be significant, even if it is only the recall fees. Let's say your production from recall appointments, not including treatments, is $50,000 a year. If instead of seeing your patients twice a year you see them every nine months, you could lose around $17,000 a year simply because of the timing of your recall appointments.

An effective recall procedure can be handled by DuxWare. Whether to provide a better service, to avoid potential liability or to increase practice income, a recall system is too important to be left ignored.

Before the patient leaves the office, their next appointment should be scheduled if possible. If an appointment is not scheduled, create a recall in DuxWare. The prior education of the patient on the importance of regular exams, etc. is very important to this step going smoothly. Patient education plays an important part in any successful recall system. You have to spend time with your patients and realize that the success of your recall system is related to the education of your patients and the use of the system itself.

It is important to reflect the importance of continuing care rather than the traditional “come and see us in 6 or 12 months” attitude. Sometimes the word recall can have negative connotations. Patients may think of defective merchandise being recalled by manufacturers. Re-examination re-evaluation regular visits or regular appointments are friendlier words than recall.

To create a steady flow of patients into the practice, you must look closely at your recall procedures. Remember that the longer it has been since a patient has come in, the more likely it is that the doctor will find services that need to be rendered. Patients who have nothing to be done should still be incorporated into the recall system for regular exams.

The DuxWare Recall Manager can be used to increase revenue for your practice.

If you do not already have a recall system stably in place, you will most likely need to begin creating one by pulling a patient inactivity report for patients who have not been in for any type of service for a year or more.
After this has been done, two things happen:

  • Everyone in the practice suddenly realizes there is a lot of potential work out there.
  • You can establish the number of active patients you actually have. Once this is known, it is a lot easier to   project your goals and work towards them.
    • Begin a program to contact all such people and appoint them for the needed treatment. 
    • Set up recall categories.
    • Create a recall letter for each recall category, or a standard recall letter for all.
    • Enter patients into recall when you want to see them back in the future. 
    • Run the Recall Report monthly to see which patients have not yet scheduled appointments and provide adequate follow through to a scheduled appointment.
    • Use the Recall Manager to generate letters, or labels, or as a call list. 
    • Use an automatic call service, which can be very helpful in reminding the patient it is time to schedule their appointment. The DuxWare Recall Manager creates the output files automatically with one click.
    • When the patient calls for an appointment and has an outstanding recall: link the appointment to the recall, if they cancel their name will return to the recall list. If they reschedule, the recall will be linked to the new appointment. 
    • No-shows do not automatically go back into recall so be sure to un-link the recall to a no-show appointment: 
    • Run a No-show Report for the previous week. These patients should be put back into the recall program. 
    • From the report click on the patient name to go to the Patient Information screen. 
    • Go to Recall Information > View All. This brings up the Patient Recall screen.
    • If the missed appointment is linked, the scheduled date will be highlighted, click on the Scheduled Date – this will bring up the Patient Recall Add/Edit screen. Go to Related Appointment (near the bottom of the screen) and choose None (this will un-link the appointment from the recall). You will then be able to work this with your regular recalls.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to link all new appointments to a recall.

If there was no recall for the no-show you now have the opportunity to add this patient into your recall system so that the patient does not become “lost.” Of course, there are various reasons you would not want to continue to work a patient recall – such as the patient was to be a new patient and did not show and did not call to reschedule. You might let this one go unless it was a referral from another doctor – in which case you might want to send a note to the referring physician informing them of the patient's failure to follow through.

Be very diligent about follow-up. Do not let patients fall between the cracks. Every patient should be in the recall system to be reminded at some time in the future of their need for an appointment. DuxWare will keep track of recalls linked to appointments – even if they have been rescheduled or canceled.