We know that dental patients are visiting the hygienist. We looked at some of the numbers in recent articles (see list below). The question, however, is are they coming back to see you?
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- How much is a new patient worth to a dental practice? Here's what the data say
When looking at the numbers of dental patients who are reappointed during their hygiene visit, the numbers are quite shocking. To find these numbers, we took data from Sikka Software that has been collected from more than 12,500 dental practices from around the United States.
Let’s take a look at the numbers we discovered:
Number of dental patients reappointed to hygienist on average per month
- 2010 – 40.17
- 2011 – 40.08
- 2012 – 39.5
- 2013 – 39.17
- 2014 – 38.67
- 2015 – 41.92
- 2016 – 47.17
Number of dental patients visiting/seen by the hygienist on average per month
- 2010 – 77
- 2011 – 76.67
- 2012 – 76.25
- 2013 – 76.25
- 2014 – 76.25
- 2015 – 77.83
- 2016 – 78.92
Percentage reappointed of overall visiting dental patients
- 2010 – 52.17%
- 2011 – 52.28%
- 2012 – 51.8%
- 2013 – 51.37%
- 2014 – 50.71%
- 2015 – 53.86%
- 2016 – 59.77%
So what does this mean for you and your practice? Rachel Wall, RDH, BS, founder of Inspired Hygiene, says that these numbers very well could shock most dental practices.
“The majority of practices we ask say their reappointment rate is 90 percent or higher,” Wall said. “Obviously, this data doesn’t support that. This data is from a fairly large number of practices, and they are likely the same dentists that hire consultants. It’s probably safe to say that most practices overestimate their reappointment rates. “
“According to these numbers, the trend is improving so that’s good news. I would say it’s probably a function of dentistry’s need to be more proactive with their patient base.”
Wall also believes the numbers show that new dental patients who come into the practice simply don’t often come back.
“This is very telling and confirms the common phenomenon of lots of new patients coming in to the practice but not resulting in the need to increase hygiene days,” Wall said. “What percentage of your new patients become existing patients? What percentage of your new patients come in because of a coupon and don’t come back? These are numbers that dental practices have to know and they point directly to the reappoint statistics. Data must be tracked. It’s too time-consuming to track manually. I think practices need to have a way to track it electronically and we are rapidly moving in that direction with our coaching clients.”
How do you get patients to come back? Wall said it has to be more than just the reasoning behind a six-month checkup.
“What value are you building for the next appointment? It has to matter to the patient, not the doctor or hygienist,” Wall explained. “The patient has invested a lot in his or her dentistry. How can we make the reason to return personal to the patient? Could it be pulling out a piece of their medical history and connecting that to their oral or overall health goals? Being able to connect those dots for patients feeds into the relationship part of the practice. How do we stand out from dental practice down the street when it comes to our efforts to build relationships?”
Note: Want to learn more about what Sikka Software can do for your practice? Practice Mobilizer is the free app that lets you send HIPAA-compliant video messages, track patient arrival times, provides zip code specific fee data and more. Click here. Link to www.practicemobilizer.com.
An advocate of today’s dental assistant, Kevin Henry speaks to dental audiences across the nation on topics that empower dental assistants, helping them recognize the leadership role they hold in the dental practice. He is the cofounder of IgniteDA.net, a community designed to enlighten, empower, and educate dental assistants.