Pre-appointing Vs Recall

There are two ways to get established patients back onto your patient schedule in a timely manner:

  • pre-appointing
  • regular recall


Here is the difference between these two methods. Both from the scheduling/front-end to the confirmation/back-end of the process.


Pre-appointing is defined as scheduling the patient for their next visit at the time of their current visit. In this best practice model, every patient who visits you will always have an opportunity to have a “next appointment” scheduled.


There are two methods of pre-appointment scheduling that we recommend:

  1. Directive pre-appointing, wherein the patient is assertively told: “we’re going to set you up now for your next visit.” They are not really given “a choice”, but if they refuse and do not wish to pre-appoint obviously that’s okay. You would move into explaining how you plan to let them know when they are due for their next visit. We’ve found that some practices have been using directive pre-appointing successfully for years. If it’s working, then keep doing it! (PS. We’ll go over how to know if any of these systems are working a little later in this lesson.)


  1. Selective pre-appointing, wherein the patient is offered the opportunity to pre-appoint in the exam room. If you are newer to pre-appointing, this would be the way to go. Consumers in our current world tend to balk when told what to do and they appreciate having a choice.


Medical pre-appointments that need to be scheduled less than 6 months out are usually very easy to present to a patient, as this typically means they have a current medical diagnosis that the optometrist needs to monitor to ensure good eye health.


For regular vision exams, we expect that the pre-appointments made for a year or more out will have a lower acceptance and also lower compliance or show-rate. However, we do see successful pre-appointing for regular vision exams at about 50 to 70% success, which is way better than regular recall, which only as a 25 to 50% success rate in most practices.