New study: Better dental patient relationships lead to $74,000 gain
It's been proven in a recent study: creating good patient relationships positively affects a dentist's bottom line and helps maintain the strong bottom line.
Long considered challenging to appraise, the importance of better relationships between dentists and their patients now has a hard (and attractive) value assigned to it.
In its latest report, RevenueWell analyzed data from nearly 4,000 dental practices. The practices used RevenueWell’s automated marketing and communication tools to help build better relationships with their patients. The company learned that after the first year using these tools, these practices not only increased their appointment volumes by more than 900 appointments on average, but they also averaged a revenue increase of 6%, or $73,630, that same year.
“When dentists are more connected with their patients, patients are often healthier, happier, and more engaged in their health,” said RevenueWell founder Alex Nozdrin. “But there’s a secondary benefit, as well—closer relationships make practices more successful. We’ve always believed that, and the data backs it up.”
The business case for better patient relationships
Several studies have shown the symbiosis of patient relationships and practice success. As an article in the Journal of Dental Education stated, “A successful dentist-patient relationship provides many benefits, such as increased patient adherence and loyalty, better therapeutic results, and anxiety management. . . . In contrast, poor communication is the most common cause of patient dissatisfaction.”
The practice implications of the revenue acquired from greater patient satisfaction and deeper patient loyalty are noteworthy.
According to Payscale, a compensation research company, the $73,630 revenue increase exceeds the median salary for a dental hygienist by nearly $20,000. Or, in other terms, the growth covers the median annual cost of dental and office supplies, according to the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Services.
Growth spans numerous services
The trends revealed in the report appear across major, and profitable, treatment services, including adjunctive, restorative, implant, diagnostic, and preventive. For example, revenue from implant services grew by 16% on average. However, that figure jumped to 20% for those practices that maximized the patient communication tools, a correlation seen throughout the report.
More ways to build relationships, more revenue
Using the company’s propriety usage metric called the Wellness Score, RevenueWell determined that practices in the top quartile of software usage earned a return on investment (ROI) of 25 to 1. Those in the bottom quartile of usage still saw a double-digit return, though half as much as the top quartile.
“Our study found that from a marketing and communication perspective, the dental industry mirrors consumer industries,” said Steve Susina, director of marketing at RevenueWell. “Like consumers, dental patients need multiple ‘touches’ from their dentists before they’ll take action. On average, consumers use 10 channels to interact with brands; similarly, our study shows that when practices apply the same communication approach and use multiple channels, such as social media, email, and a website, they grow significantly.”
In other words, the more the 3,753 practices used the tools that build relationships, the more revenue they saw.
The tools available to the practices were expansive. They ranged from patient-engagement revenue drivers, such as appointment reminders, automatic recall campaigns, and online payment portals, to digital tools that cultivate relationships, such as social media campaigns, websites, and two-way texting.
“How dentists build relationships with patients has changed—for example, practices can now text patients,” Nozdrin says. “But the need to build relationships hasn’t changed, and it won’t. That’s a constant we’ve seen from generation to generation and will continue to see.”
Read the full report now
For the full analysis of the study, a copy of the RevenueWell report is available here.
David McCarthy, MA, and Jonathan Bass, MA, are content marketing managers at RevenueWell, whose dental marketing and communication solution helps dental practices grow their revenue, connect with patients, and streamline office operations. McCarthy and Bass coauthored RevenueWell’s latest report, The ROI of RevenueWell. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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