Tracking and Maximizing Dental Patient Referral Data

Asking the right patient referral questions can help take the guess-work out of your dental marketing initiatives.

“It’s not what you know but who you know.” Applying that idea has much to do with how to track and maximize dental patient referral data.

The “who” factor (as in “who” referred them) for patients of record can be a useful source for ongoing engagement. It builds on the broader know-like-trust factor that drives quality relationships – especially for service providers.

Word-of-Mouth Still Matters

Referrals have been and will continue to be a key source of acquiring new patients. Tracking those referrals in a dental dashboard — including who referred them — offers you the ability to gain valuable insight into a patent’s journey to your practice.

  • Referral data refines your marketing strategies
  • Referral data reflects the impact of your patient experience
  • Referral data reminds patients that their relationship with your practice matters

The Basics of How to Track and Maximize your Dental Patient Referral Data

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Why do you eat at a particular restaurant, purchase from a store or online merchant, listen to a podcast or musician? It’s possible that someone gave you a heads-up!

The referral principle applies across the board. We trust those we know and like.

It’s likely that a high percentage of your patient database is traceable to another human. Sure, some patients contact your office or schedule as result of a mailer, an online ad, social media, or another form of online content. But it’s always advantageous to know the referral source for your patients as well as secondary influencers.

  • Ask. Make “how did you hear about us” a standard talking point for new patient interactions.
  • Explore. Go deeper to understand what “tipped” a patient in the direction of your practice.
  • Expect. Create a recurring loop of referrals by incentivizing patients to share the love about your practice.

Eliminate the Ambiguity

It’s true everyone starts somewhere. But “somewhere” isn’t listed on a “map.” You’ll want to discover the specifics about a patient’s referral journey. For example, saying they found you “online” is helpful to your marketing strategy. But even more useful going forward is unpacking “where” online. Was it Facebook? Instagram? A Google search? A relevant blog post on your website?

  • Be more intentional with your online presence. Research how Google and social media platforms can provide useful tracking data.
  • Keep a patient-by-patient record of their online connection with your practice. This helps you refine your online marketing-spend and related ROI.

Engage with Patients Who Actively Refer

A goal is to have more patients who refer others than those who don’t. Build your tribe of referral sources by staying engaged with them.

  • Drop them a simple (HIPAA compliant) “thank-you” often.
  • Give them complimentary rewards such as cards to coffee shops, local restaurants, and so forth. Know your local and state laws regarding referral rewards before doing so.

Explore your Routine Reports

Available data can reveal any “holes” in your referral tracking. You might have a patient on record but not have an identifiable referral source attached to them.

  • Make course corrections going forward to assure that every patient is sourced somewhere (such as a personal or online referral).
  • Train your front-office and/or scheduling team how to ask for referral sources and how to ask patients to refer others.
  • Keep all referral themed conversations with patients natural and non-scripted (this is where training ahead of time pays off).

Envision Better Marketing Based on Referral Data

Your patient referral information can help take the guesswork out of some dental marketing initiatives. Rather than random perspectives on patient personas, social media channels, and online strategies, you can be more targeted.

  • Ask for referral specifics (such as what social media platform, blog topic, or search question led them to find you).
  • Create marketing around referral demographics – family-based referrals, age/lifestyle-based referrals, and so forth.

Use your Dentrix Data

Dentrix can provide a wealth of data about patient referrals. Focus on treatment acceptance, timing between an initial referral and first visit, and the appointment frequencies of the referral source.

Some extracted data might seem too micro but you might discover some worthwhile “nuggets” using your software’s capabilities.

Review the following resources to improve your dental patient referral strategies:

Learn More

Use data-driven tools to support your referral system. The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying consistent with referral sources.


  • Integrates seamlessly with Dentrix.
  • Presents the metrics you want and need in an easy-to-view dental dashboard that reduces data complexity for growing dental practices, dental groups, and DSOs.

Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!