Just how important is it for a referral patient to not only come into your practice but also remain as an existing patient?
Of course, to find these numbers practices needed to actually track how their patients entered their pipeline. Once they are marked as a “referral patient,” they keep that tag with them throughout their time with the practice. It’s another important reason why practices (as small businesses) need to figure out which methods of marketing are working and bringing in new customers.
We recently extracted data from Sikka’s collection of numbers taken from Sikka Software that has been collected from more than 12,500 dental practices from around the United States. In order to find the exact impact of referral patients, we not only looked at when a patient came into the practice but also every time he or she were reappointed.
Without further delay, here are the number of patients in the average practice who are referrals. These numbers are per practice, per month, on average.
2010 – 40.75
2011 – 44.33
2012 – 46.58
2013 – 49.5
2014 – 50.92
2015 – 53.5
2016 – 54.17
Yes, those numbers are on the rise. That shows the power that referrals can have for your practice and that more and more practices are realizing the power of the referral.
How do you keep them?
But how do you keep patients in your practice rather than having them be a “one-and-done” in your books? We talked to Laura Hatch, the founder of Front Office Rocks, for her thoughts and what she has seen work in various practices around the country.
“So many doctors and team members focus so much on efficiency and patients in faster. I’m certainly not against that, but it can’t happen in lieu of customer service and building rapport with the patient,” Hatch said. “Everyone has to slow down and make the patient feel comfortable. Get to know him or her. Make the patient feel like he or she is not just another number. Make that patient feel important to you. He or she won’t come back and stay with you as an existing patient if he or she feels like just another number.”
Hatch also said that, when it comes to turning new patients into existing patients, insurance can’t be the first subject brought up by team members.
“When you get a new patient, insurance is always a discussion that happens. However, many times the dental team goes to insurance first before anything else,” Hatch said. “If we’re trying to build long-term relationships, the patient has to come first, not just what kind of insurance he or she has.
“So often, we in dental practices put insurance as priority before the patient even brings it up. Any time someone comes in to your practice for the first time, talk to that patient first about his or her wants, needs, fears and dreams before insurance.”
Referral patients are important to your practice’s bottom line. However, keeping them as existing patients is absolutely critical.
Practice Mobilizer is a free app that lets dentists send HIPAA-compliant video messages, tracks patient arrival times, provides ZIP code-specific fee data, and more. Dentists can check out store.sikkasoft.com or the mobile app at www.practicemobilizer.com.
This article was originally published August 22, 2017 on DrBicuspid. You can view the original article here: http://bit.ly/2hmlf1k
For more great content, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking the button below.