Knowing your attrition rate can help you focus on your existing patients.
Every patient interaction is important. Make sure to address their concerns and needs individually and treat them with respect.
Off the top of your head, could you say about how many patients you lose each year? If you can’t, you aren’t alone. Most dental consultants are in agreement that the patient attrition rate is about 10-12% in an established dental practice and about 15-20% in a new dental practice. This happens in every practice. Patients move away, pass away, lose employment, lose dental insurance, and encounter financial challenges, to name a few. All are beyond your control. Knowing your specific attrition rate, however, is key.
During a coaching call with an office I ask the following questions:
- How many active patients do you have?
- How many patients do you lose annually?
Many times, the response to both questions is either a guess or the acknowledgment that they just don’t know. We have found that these numbers are not tracked regularly, and we have also found that it is not uncommon for patient attrition to translate into thousands of dollars of lost revenue annually.
As offices focus on new patients, they do not realize that they need to factor in their attrition rate to accurately determine the number of new patients needed for growth. Beyond helping you accurately project numbers, your attrition rate can also help you focus on retaining existing patients. With new patients, you’ll have increased marketing costs and time to build the relationship and trust that you’ve already cutlivated and established with existing patients.
In Dentrix, the Practice Advisor Report helps you track the patient attrition KPI. It provides your Active Patient Count (the number of patients seen in either in an 18-month period or 24-month period, depending on how you define an active patient for your practice).
Things you can do today to aid with patient retention:
- Establish a recall system and reach out to all overdue patients.
- Contact all patients that haven’t been seen within 18-24 months.
- Every patient interaction is important! Make sure to address their concerns and needs individually and treat them with respect. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Survey patients to learn their perception of your practice.
- Create a written policy for tracking patient attrition and for following steps to improve patient retention in your practice. Having written policies ensures consistency.
As you continue to understand your practice’s attrition rate and learn how patients perceive your practice, you can focus more specifically on their needs. That will increase trust, which will translate into loyal patients, more patient referrals, and increased production.
If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in learning more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where these, and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas are taught to you and your team by one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches.
By Alicia Owens, Henry Schein One Practice Consultant