For any business to be successful, it must know and grow its customer base. Understanding even basic demographics of its customer base helps a business develop effective marketing strategies, and asking the hard questions about why clients switch to a competitor can help a business determine how it can improve client experiences.
When dentists commit to running their practices like businesses, these statistics will be among those they need to know on a consistent basis. Understanding the active patient base will shed a light on the facets that measure the success of your business.
SECOND, IT'S CRITICAL TO ACCURATELY TRACK ATTRITION. If a patient leaves the practice, you must know why, and the record must be inactivated properly in your practice management software. To protect your practice, all contact attempts should follow your established protocol and be logged in the software. It is not enough that notes of calls are made and messages left are written in a report that’s eventually thrown away or can be altered. If patients indicate that they have left the practice or if they don’t respond to your contact attempts, the reason must be entered in such a way that a report can be pulled monthly and reviewed.
What are the latest trends with active patients? We looked at Sikka Software’s statistics from nearly 13,000 dental practices across the United States. Again, for definition’s sake, an active patient is one who has visited the practice in the last 18 months.
Let’s look at the numbers. It seems they’re trending in the right direction. How do these compare to your numbers?
2010 – 2,194.4
2011 – 2,206.9
2012 – 2,213.5
2013 – 2,231.5
2014 – 2,251.9
2015 – 2,335.3
2016 – 2,403.8
Once the active patient base is determined to be accurate, there are a number of other key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be determined and monitored, including:
• Gross production per patient per year, which should be anywhere from $600 to $800 depending on general versus specialty procedures. Does your team need help with presenting treatment and creating a sense of urgency for needed treatment? Are your fees determined to be in the appropriate percentile?
• Number of new patients needed per dentist per month to sustain and grow the business. Don’t forget to account for attrition.
• How successful the doctor and the team are at converting those new patients who come in for an emergency into longtime patients.
• Attrition, which will help pinpoint areas of customer service to improve to close that back door.
• When the time comes for the practice to extend hours or welcome additional providers.
• The retention system. Eighty-five percent of your active patients should be active in your hygiene schedule. How is your retention system working? Would a targeted reactivation campaign be appropriate?
Knowing your active patient base is critical to many of your decisions as a business owner. It’s not just a number, but a true benchmark for developing your vision and goals. As the leader of your team, involve them in understanding the numbers, as well as how they can influence these benchmarks. Inspire them to be creative to achieve and exceed the goals you set together, and then celebrate together as a team.
Note: Now is a great time to examine your fees and prepare for the second quarter of your business year. Get a head start with a free 10-procedure fee survey for your zip code from the app Practice Mobilizer at practicemobilizer.com. For more in-depth information, you can purchase a full fee survey with more than 600 procedure codes for three zip codes at store.sikkasoft.com/FeeSurveyforDentistry.