Dental Office Patient Retention Defined
Dental office patient retention is the science of keeping our patients. That’s right! From the very first phone call, the team strives to provide superior care. And to provide the safe and comfortable environment our dental patients need. The dental front office is a huge piece of patient retention. Much of our patient communication, collections, and appointment setting happens here.
So let’s take a closer look at how the dental front office team can help retain patients. I have read that many patients consider dentistry “optional”. It’s a healthcare service patients may postpone following a “bad” experience. Or if money is a little tight. And studies show it is actually easier and less expensive to keep our existing patients. So just how do we do this?
Numbers To Watch
First, the dental front office team members can track some numbers. The number of new patients who schedule each day is first. And then record the patients who transfer out each day. Day by day tracking works best. And will help us to be more accurate.
Record the how and why as well! Be sure to find out where each new patient comes from. How do they hear about us? And we also need to know why our exiting patient leaves. Is it due to a move? Or an insurance change? Or is there another reason? Is there a way to save this relationship? If we can, that’s what we want to do!
Dental Office Patient Retention Includes Superior Customer Service
Kindness covers a multitude of “sins”. As human beings, we make mistakes. Things happen that we did not intend. And is easier for our patients to overlook our mistakes when we treat them well. This includes great phone management. Additionally, polished patient hand-offs within the office are powerful. But we also want to get to know our patients.
Let’s find out a few things! We want to know our patients’ preferred method of communication. Does each patient prefer a call, text, or email message? Is their schedule flexible? Are they able to move appointments with ease, or is that difficult for them? When we know these things, everyone is happier.
Look Around With Fresh Eyes
Dental office patient retention involves our physical space. Take a fresh look around the dental office. We get used to our surroundings. So it’s important to look again. Look as if you are a new patient. Is everything fresh and clean and new? Or is there a section of the office that needs a little sprucing up? Is there clutter ? Or do some new pictures need to be hung?
The front office area must be well organized. We will create some organized chaos through the day. That’s acceptable. But is the front office area one that shouts efficiency and organization? And do we clean the surfaces each day? Because all of this truly makes a difference. Our first impressions matter. But so do our every day after that too!
Dental Office Patient Retention Requires Great Time Management
Things don’t always go as we plan in the dental office. And so it is in the outside world as well. We have a patient in the chair that the anesthetic is slow to work on one day. And another patient calls to say they are stuck in a traffic jam. While everyone’s blood pressure rises! So what do we do?
We accept there are things we cannot control. And we master those tasks that we can control. So, we know we cannot move traffic along any faster. But what can we do? We can communicate well with our team throughout the day. And we can also be aware of patients on our schedule who have inflexible schedules. Because they might need tighter schedule management. Or maybe even a text or call if we are late.
Update Schedule Templates Regularly
Dental office patient retention improves with better time management. And one of the best ways to do this is with our schedule templates. Both for hygiene and restorative schedules. As clinicians adjust techniques or the steps within a procedure, timing may change. It’s a great idea to update schedule templates once a year.
Our patients’ needs will change our schedules too. As our practice evolves, our schedules will too! More new adult patients may mean more active periodontal treatment in our hygiene schedules. But more new young patients may mean more sealants in our hygiene schedules. So, we do well to keep a close eye month to month on the demographics of our new patients as well.
Flawless Financial Protocols
One thing that will upset a patient more than anything is money. The dental front office team must communicate expectations clearly. And it’s crucial to maintain consistency and dependability. This is not a place for any surprises. Our patients definitely don’t want anything unexpected with their finances. But if that does occur, we must be able to communicate it well. This is where our existing relationship and kindness come into play.
Dental front office weekly management systems create consistency. And they include every area of front office management and business system. Although this is important within every system, we especially want this in our accounts receivable. We want to be “in the know” of every single patient account within our practice. And this is the best way to do so!
Dental office patient retention is a direct result of our money management. When we truly want to keep our patients, we will perfect this. From insurance calculation to payment entry, we shine! Every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted. We are quick to issue any patient refunds, and don’t hold onto account credits.
Our patients hold a tremendous amount of respect and trust for us. They know they can count on their statements being correct. And find we are approachable and they can ask us any question they have. And our office collection rate is 100% or pretty close to it! We won’t have a practice to work in for long if we let this number slide! If we give the farm away, it goes away!