Prevention Is The Best Form of Medicine

The Commitment

In 2010, our office made a commitment to take a proactive approach in the care of our patients. So, we decided that, instead of waiting for kids’ parents to call us when they were sick or needed a visit so we could fill out their school form, we would take a personalized approach to our patient’s health care needs.


To jump start this initiative, we focused on well-visits. The objective was to indentify as many children as we could that had not been seen for a well-visit in more than 12-months.

The Contest

To demonstrate we were serious about this initiative as a practice, and to get the staff behind the cause, I decided to do a contest. Here is how it went. We defined the contest period to be June – July. The goal… 35% more well-Childs than in 2009.

The Goal

A quick report showed that we did 517 well-child between June and July of 2009. Therefore, the goal was 700 well-visits for the same period (I rounded up).

I choose those two months because traditionally, these two months are our least busy months of the year. I excluded August for several reasons. 1) I didn’t want the contest to appear it was taking forever and 3-months seemed like a long time. 2) In August, demand for well-child is already high, so we didn’t feel the need to fill the schedule in August because it is going to fill itself.

Furthermore, these goals were in addition to our regularly scheduled sick visits (ie, follow-ups and same day appointments). Therefore, we still had to accommodate sick patients as we normally do in spite of the goal.

The Execution

We first identified the patients (for example those turning 5 years old) that needed to come in by running several reports.

For a small group of patients, we called personally to let them know they needed to make the appointment. It was a bit time consuming, but when 3 or 4 employees jumped on the list, we got through it quickly. People appreciated the call from a human being too.

For the rest, we sent out a postcards. We also posted signs all over the practice to drive the message home.


The staff did an awesome job of reminding people that came in for sick visits, that the patient was due for a physical and they would urge parents to schedule their appointments sooner, rather than later. Same for people that called in. We’d take a quick peak at their chart to see when was their last well-child. If it had been more than a year, we’d remind them it was time.

The doctors also played a crucial role. During sick visits and follow ups, they’d also check the chart and remind parents of the importance of yearly physicals often reminding them to schedule their well-visits on their way out.

So how did we do?

When it was all said and done, I told the staff there was good news and then there was bad news. The bad news is that we didn’t hit our 700 well-visit goal. But the good news is that our team got behind the cause (to take a proactive approach in the care of our patients) and really worked together in an effort to achieve our goal. It was a collaborative effort; which I absolutely appreciated.

The Results

2010 – 655 Well-child

2009 – 517 Well-child

Diff      138+ Well-child

Although we were only 45 well-child short of our 700 well-child goal, we still managed to bring in 138 more well-visits than the year before; about a 26.5% increase in well-visits. Remember, not only did we have to ensure another 517 well-child made appointments, but that another 183 scheduled their appointment to meet the 700 patient goal. And all this while seeing our normal load of sick, follow-ups and same day appointments.


Now, let’s say for giggles that the  average $120 bucks a well-visit (I know some practices do well above that, but I’m trying to make a point), how much more money did the contest generate?

$120 x 138 = $16,560

Let’s say with vaccines and other services a practice averages $250 for every well-child, what would the numbers look like then?

$250 x 138 = $34,500

Here is the deal…

Whether it is 16K, 27K, 34K or 5K, it doesn’t really matter. That is not really the primary point. What I found interesting is that we were able to take a more proactive approach in the health of our community by putting a simple contest together. Thanks to our efforts, more kids came to see the doc. As the saying goes,

prevention is the best form of medicine.

From a business perspective, we increased our revenue by doing things we, for the most part, are already doing. Except this time, we were a little more proactive and a little more focused.

Even when you subtract the cost of the post cards, one is still coming out ahead. Moreover, the post cards has a longer shelf life than the 2-month contest. Weeks after the contest was over, we had people call us wanting to schedule their well-child an referenced the post card.

Think about this

This contest was a 3-month effort (1-month coordination and 2-month execution). Imagine if we put something like this in place for the entire year? Imagine, if we coordinated an effort like this among all SOAPM members? Imagine if we coordinated an effort like this, all year around with the 60,000 members of the AAP?

By the way, although we didn’t hit the goal, each hourly employee got an extra paid day off for the effort.  Thus, in essence, everybody won the contest.

Photo courtesy: Brit