For any business to be successful, it must know and grow its customer base. Understanding even basic demographics of its customer base helps a business develop effective marketing strategies, and asking the hard questions about why a client switches to a competitor can help a business determine how they can improve their client experience moving forward. When a dentist commits to running his or her practice like a business, these statistics will be among those that he or she needs to know on a consistent basis. Understanding the Active Patient Base in the practice will shed a bright light on the facets that measure the success of your business.
First, let’s define Active Patient Base. When I look at a practice analysis with a client, I look at the number of patients that have been in the practice for any reason in the last 18 months. There are variations of this depending on who you talk to, but I find that this number affords the best opportunity to look at hygiene retention, emergency patient conversion potential and production per patient and also allows for a simple retention communication workflow. The number of active patients a practice needs will vary depending on insurance participation (due to contractual write-offs) and hours available.
Second, it is critical that attrition is tracked accurately. If a patient leaves the practice, you must know why, and the record must be inactivated properly in your practice management software. To protect your practice, all contact attempts should follow your established protocol and they must be logged in the software. It is not enough that notes of calls made and messages left are written on a printed report that is eventually thrown away or can be altered. If a patient has indicated that they have left the practice or if they have never responded to your contact attempts, the reason why must be entered in such a way that a report can be pulled monthly and reviewed.
What are the latest trends with active patients? We looked at Sikka Software’s statistics from nearly 13,000 dental practices across the United States. Again, for definition’s sake in this article, an active patient is a patient who has visited the practice in the last 18 months.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. They are trending in the right direction it seems. How do these compare to your numbers?
2010 – 2194.4
2011 – 2206.9
2012 – 2213.5
2013 – 2231.5
2014 – 2251.9
2015 – 2335.3
2016 – 2403.8
Once the Active Patient Base is determined to be accurate, there are a number of other key performance indicators (KPIs) that can now be determined and monitored, including the following:
- Gross production per patient per year, which should be anywhere between $600 and $800 depending on general vs. specialty procedures. Does your team need help with presenting treatment and creating a sense of urgency for needed treatment? Are your fees determined to be in the appropriate percentile?
- Number of new patients needed per dentist per month to sustain and grow the business. Don’t forget to account for attrition!
- How successful is the doctor and the team at converting those new patients that come in for an emergency into longtime patients?
- Understanding attrition will help you pinpoint areas of customer service to improve to close that back door.
- When will it be time for the practice to extend hours or welcome additional providers?
- 85% of your active patients should be active in your hygiene schedule. How is your retention system working? Would a targeted re-activation campaign be appropriate?
Knowing your active patient base is critical to many of the decisions you as a business owner will need to make. It is not just a number, but really a true benchmark for developing your vision and goals. As a leader of your team, involve them in understanding the numbers as well as how they, individually and as a group, influence these benchmarks. Inspire them to be creative to achieve and exceed the goals you set together, and then celebrate together as a team.
Note: Now is a great time to examine your fees and prepare for the second quarter of your business year. Get a head start with a free 10-procedure fee survey for your zip code from the app Practice Mobilizer at www.practicemobilizer.com. Or, if you want more in-depth information, you can purchase a full fee survey with more than 600 procedure codes for three zip codes at https://store.sikkasoft.com/FeeSurveyforDentistry
Over her 25 years of experience in the dental industry, Andrea Greer has led practices from many positions: dental assistant, hygienist, office manager, Dentrix trainer, practice management consultant and speaker. Founder of On Point Dental Consulting, she approaches her work with each practice uniquely to develop protocols and workflows to reduce stress and advance patient communication. Andrea is passionate about helping dentists and their teams believe in what they are providing to the patient family and realize contentment and purpose. Her gift of connection and empathy is a key element in engaging with audience members, as well as developing leadership one on one with her clients. Visit www.OnPoint.Consulting to connect with Andrea personally.
This article was originally published March 13, 2018, on DentistryIQ. You can view the original article here: http://bit.ly/2tGcEfS