Trust and Your Dental Patient Retention Statistics
What are the “big three” roadblocks that could be holding your practice back from true success? Is it your dental billing processes, inefficient marketing, frequent claim denials or rejections? Are your dental patient retention statistics falling? Or is it something deeper that directly correlates to all of those things? For modern dentistry, it’s more important than ever to focus on service, retention, and customer service for your practice. By prioritizing these three primary areas, you can best differentiate your practice from competitors, build a loyal active patient base, and provide a positive patient experience that leads to perpetual growth and success.
Dental patient retention statistics in a nutshell
It is imperative that dentists pay special attention to their active patient number at all times. In dental school, we are taught that this number provides the crucial success factor in long term practice growth and concurrent cash flow. When you first begin your career as a dentist, that slow trickle or sudden flood of patients can seem overwhelming. What matters most is understanding the primary goal of any dental patient retention strategy:
- Having recurring patients on a consistent treatment schedule
- Those retained patients have effective service ROI with treatments
- Increased treatment acceptance over time
(On the national level) “At $450 per year per patient, an active base of 1000 patients grosses receipts of $450,000,”
Even if we halve that average, you’re looking at a substantial amount of cash flow per patient on a recurring basis. By building up that core base of customers who willingly accept treatment, show up to their appointments, pay their bills on time, and give your practice a good word or two around the water cooler, you’ve most effectively set up your practice for profitable success.
Dental patient retention statistics and practice growth
The numbers don’t lie when it comes to your practice’s cash flow, and without a substantial active patient base, we can’t reach our financial goals. Of course, we can’t simply rely on who we currently have in order to scale to the next level. This is where catering to new patients comes in, and where we may need a certain amount of self-reflection in order to implement the best strategy for moving them into that active patient base. For your patients, barriers in accepting treatment include costs, personal judgment, and ambiguity over insurance benefits. Each of these present a very real and honest look into areas we can focus on to maximize retention.
What are the biggest barriers to patients accepting dental treatment?
Think about your patient saying this to themselves:
“How do I get over my fear of being judged if I go to the dentist?”
As dental professionals, we may think that we always have the best intentions in mind when it comes to treatment scheduling and procedural accuracy. Yet more and more patients are wondering how much their dentist just wants to “treat more to make more”. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Having to explain your reasoning for becoming a dental practitioner need not be a losing proposition, of course. However, highlighting the patient care oaths that we are taught as doctors is essential for building patient trust from the bottom up.
Take a look at some important areas of your practice that directly affect new patient acquisition:
A welcoming atmosphere
First impressions are everything for a new patient. They want to know “Do I feel comfortable here, or does this feel like something out of a scary science fiction movie?” Improve your waiting room experience with comfortable seating, soothing music, and interesting reading material can help patients feel at ease before their appointments.
A clean, contemporary office design
Have you updated your furniture recently? The amount of foot traffic our offices receive may not seem as high as we’d like it to be, but your chairs may say otherwise. Take some time to put yourself in the patient’s shoes, so to speak, and sit in your own waiting room for a few minutes.
Educational materials that don’t just sell services
Many dental products offer brochures that help to sell the procedures that they are utilized with, but what about getting away from the sell factor and moving into the factor of necessity? Recurring hygiene appointments provide you with an opportunity to speak with patients about any oral care problems they may be having, as well as keep an eye on clinical matters from a professional perspective.
Professional and courteous front office staff
Without reliable customer service, those first impressions can make or break a patient’s relationship with your office. Is one of your staff members a little more talkative than the rest? Give them the primary task to be the one to fully greet patients and let your less outgoing staff focus on the finer points of scheduling and booking treatments.
Accurate statements before and after treatment
Without proper processes in place, your patients can be stuck with a high copay or lack of insurance coverage for an important procedure. As doctors, we can’t simply look at the cost of treatment, provide it, and then say goodbye to the patient. Remember that retention requires constant nurturing of trust, and trust starts with transparency in cost and responsibility on part of the patient. An effective outsourced dental billing service can be the perfect instrument to remove your high accounts receivables and increase reimbursement. All the while, your staff are doing the job of encouraging and maintaining your new and active patient base. Being empathetic and understanding patients’ concerns can further help to alleviate stress and anxiety. Additionally, offering personalized care tailored to each patient’s unique needs is crucial to ensuring that they feel valued and cared for.
Keeping your active patient count number high
Your current patients are the ones who always come in and leave with a smile. They talk about your professionalism and expertise to their friends, manage their hygiene schedule well, arrive early to appointments and never leave with a sore mouth. Keeping these customers happy alleviates the stress of having to constantly find new patients, although both strategies are necessary to scale. Here are some areas where providers can better manage existing patient relationships:
- Follow up with appointment reminders, and ask patients if they have any questions
- Always conduct an insurance verification check shortly before the appointment to verify benefit coverage for the time period
- Standardize your insurance billing to prioritize accuracy in patient statements and copay collection
Building patient trust from the bottom up
All dentists should start by building trust from the bottom up and communicating trust from the top down. But what do these strategies really mean?
Building trust from the bottom up
- Your patient’s first impression when walking through the door
- How your front office staff greets new and existing patients
- How comfortable patients feel during and after their appointment
Communicating trust from the top down
- The primary dentist is transparent and available to discuss patient concerns
- Billing staff are capable and accurate in their navigation with the patient’s EOB
- Cultivate an atmosphere of professionalism and accessibility
Excellent customer service is crucial to the success of any business, especially dental practices. With that comes trust. Training your staff, being responsive, showing appreciation, and gathering feedback are all strategies you can use to provide excellent customer service. Your own dental patient retention statistics will show you exactly how well you are doing at facilitating this trust. Regularly gathering feedback from patients through surveys can help you identify areas for improvement and provide a better overall experience.
Brand promises that bring peace of mind for dentists and for patients
Outsourcing the biggest pain points in your practice revenue offers an attractive incentive to building up your active and new patient base. After patient retention, the primary cause of financial stress in your practice is your accounts receivables. Without a dedicated plan to work aging, review claim denials, and verifying benefit coverage, your team is left with dozens of hours on the phone with insurance providers as well as a lack of focus on your patients. When you no longer have to worry about the minutiae of claim submission, rejections or denials, your collections increase, and the patients follow. eAssist Dental Solutions provides a suite of services from dental billing to scheduling, accounting and reporting.
- EOBs posted within 24 hours
- Primary and secondary claims submitted daily
- Focus on working 30-90 day accounts
- Reviewing and appealing denied claims
- Utilize electronic attachments
- Following up on claims older than 30 days every two weeks
- Verifying procedures not sent to insurance
- And more
Creating a welcoming atmosphere, providing personalized care, and educating patients are just a few of the strategies your practice can implement with the help of the nation’s most trusted dental billing partner. Don’t let billing, scheduling and administrative tasks hold your practice back. eAssist’s outsourced dental billing platform can help you focus on what you do best – providing exceptional patient care. Contact us today to learn more about our customized billing solutions.