How much is a new patient worth to a dental practice? Here's what the data say

Here's an estimate of gross production per dental patient, based on seven years of Sikka Software data from more than 12,500 dental practices.

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An estimate of gross production per dental patient, based on seven years of data from more than 12,500 practices


How much is a new patient worth to a dental practice? There are plenty of analyses floating out there that tackle this subject, but we thought we’d use some hard data to look at this from a different perspective.

To find these numbers, we took data from Sikka Software that has been compiled over the last seven years. The data we used for this comparison has been collected by Sikka Software from more than 12,500 dental practices from around the country.

The numbers below reflect average gross production per patient who was seen for a comprehensive dental exam (figure 1). Comprehensive exams are one of the best indications that a patient is new to a practice, and looking at these patients provides a good estimate on what a new patient can bring into a practice.


Figure 1: Average gross production per new dental patient receiving a comprehensive exam

2010—$4,190.34

2011—$4,100.45

2012—$4,118.59

2013—$4,091.02

2014—$4,016.19

2015—$4,051.23

2016—$4,220.25

Note: Gross production numbers were calculated from the ratio of average gross production to unique patients receiving comprehensive exams in the six months prior to most current month.


Analysis

How ensure new patients come back and stay happy with your practice? We talked to Lois Banta of Banta Consulting, and she believes it comes down to five separate steps, starting with a new patient's first phone call to the dental practice.

“When someone calls your practice, have your best communicator answer the phone,” Banta says. “This person's position would be titled, ‘Director of First Impressions.’ The first impression happens on the phone.”

Banta also says that practices must make sure there is a checklist of information that is shared so the communication can be consistent. This includes:

  • A description of what will take place during the appointment and what the patient can expect
  • Any anticipated out-of-pocket expenses

Following the phone call, practices should send a "Welcome to Our Practice" letter that mirrors the phone conversation.

Next comes the appointment itself. Banta believes there are some musts when it comes to a new patient appointment.

“To start, the Director of First Impressions greets the patient personally, shaking his or her hand,” Banta explained. “Then offer the patient a tour of the office and perform a five-minute interview to inquire what inspired him or her to call for an appointment and who the practice can thank for the referral.”

Next is a quick introduction to the doctor and answering any questions patient has.

During the diagnosis and treatment plan, Banta believes three things must happen.

  1. Explain chairside what will take place during the exam.
  2. Explain the "left hand rule" (patient is always free to raise his or her left hand) if the patient has a comment or question during the appointment.
  3. Decide if the patient will need an additional consultation appointment, six-month recare, or minimal dentistry appointment.

Finally, there is the hand-off between the back and the front. Banta says a team member should escort the patient to the financial and scheduling coordinator to finalize the visit, as well as make financial arrangements and schedule the next visit.

“The practice has several opportunities to build the relationship and create a raving fan," she says. "However, at any point along the way, the opposite can be experienced."

Banta adds, "I highly recommend a team meeting to perform a mock new patient visit, from the phone call to the finalizing of the appointment, and have a team member document every aspect of the visit (what went right and what were the challenges). Create action plans to fine tune and improve systems for the future.”

Are new patients important to the practice? Absolutely, but keeping them around so they become established patients who value your practice is critical to the success of your business.

Author's 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, access zip-code-specific fee data and more. Click here to learn more about Practice Mobilizer.

Discolsure: Article solicited by Sikka Software


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.

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