Missed Opportunities for Growing your Dental Practice
Jun 19, 2014
There are patient statistics dental practices are not tracking and knowing these facts can assist in the growth of your practice. Here are a few types of patient tracking that should happen in a dental office.
Tracking where new patients are coming from is essential. You can include it on a new patient questionnaire or on your health history form that all new patients fill out or as a part of your new patient hygiene note.
Your front office staff should compile this information for you on a monthly basis. If most of your patients are coming from referrals, expand your referral base and start asking for referrals. If most of your new patients say that they just searched the internet, follow up that question by asking them if they visited your website. You will be surprised to hear how those two go hand in hand. People don’t just see you somewhere and decide to come to your dental office.
If you find new patients are coming from a particular source, you want to invest more time and money into that source. If you don’t know what that source is, it’s pretty hard to know where to invest more money, time, and energy.
Once you have a handle on where your new patients are coming from, you need to find out where they are going. Patients move, die, switch dentists, and it is not possible to retain100% of patients over a career. But there are some things you can do to improve your retention percentage.
Overall, with new patients:
• One-third of new patients stay in your practice and do the treatment you recommend • One-third stay and may not do the treatment that you recommend today, but they may do this treatment in six months or a year • One-third will leave, not necessarily because of you or your staff, but for whatever reason
While it is very important to increase your new patient numbers, it is more important to keep the ones you are already have. How can you increase the number of patients you keep? You need to know where your patients are going. Keep track of how many patients are leaving your office with a next appointment. If patients aren’t accepting treatment but they are making their next recall appointment, you are more likely to retain them as a patient. Track this and meet regularly with your staff to review it.
The best way to retain a patient is to get them scheduled while they are in your office. The longer that it takes for them to schedule a next appointment, the less likely are to come back. The goal with every new patient should be that they leave with a next recall appointment.
It has been shown that new patient value is significantly higher in the second and third years of being a patient. Treatment planning is a personal style, but acceptance is significantly higher if they continue seeing you as their dentist. Initially they may not trust you and may need more time before they are ready to have you do their treatment.
Dental consultants sometimes talk about a short call list or a cancellation call list. Every office has the potential to put this into place and at the same time track whether treatment recommended is actually scheduled. Keep a few spreadsheets and have your front office write down the names of patients who need treatment and whether or not they schedule.
When you have a cancellation, this is your list of patients to call and make your way down the list. Use this when there is a cancellation or when tomorrow’s schedule starts falling apart. The rule should be if by today at noon, tomorrow’s schedule is light; you can devote the afternoon to filling it. Sometimes this is a difficult concept for team members to embrace, but filling the schedule is the most important thing they can do. This becomes significantly more efficient if they have a list of patients to call. Many issues in practices could be avoided just by knowing these statistics, there is power in knowing the numbers. When you know your numbers; you can make educated decisions as to how to grow your practice.
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