When Is It Okay to Inactivate Patients?

Posted on April 14, 2015 by Sandy Pardue

When is it Okay to Inactivate Patients?

You will hear a lot of different descriptions of an active patient, down the dental pipeline. When you are looking at missed opportunities and potential patient flow, consider all patient records.

From my experience, it behooves you to never inactivate anyone where one of these two points applies.

  1. Blood is flowing through their veins
  2. They have never informed your practice they are not coming back

As long as these two points apply to a particular patient, continue reaching out to them through mailings and phone calls. They need a dentist and it can be you. They consider you to be their dentist if they haven’t said otherwise. I can’t emphasize this enough. If they have an emergency, they will call you if you have continued communicating with them. If you inactivated them and stopped mailing cards and letters, they will end up in someone else’s chair.

I recommend that you only inactivate patients that fall into one or more of the following categories.

  1. The patient passed away
  2. They have informed you that they moved out of town
  3. They told you that they will not be coming back

Many times patients leave practices and later come back after some time has passed, especially if they left due to insurance. When they leave, you should continue the relationship through mailings. I recommend that you continue sending seasonal letters, birthday cards and newsletters. The cost is minimal and it is a successful form of internal marketing. Quite often they check out another office and end up coming back to you. Teams need to be educated on this viewpoint, so that patients can get the treatment they need and deserve. Too many patients are haphazardly inactivated. There may be a rare occasion where you dismiss a patient from the practice. Make sure you follow your state guidelines and keep good records. If you have to dismiss patients on a regular basis, you need to figure out why that is happening.