So how much is a new patient worth to a dental practice? There are plenty of numbers floating out there that tackle this subject, but we thought we’d use some hard data to tackle it 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 are using for this comparison has been collected from more than 12,500 dental practices from around the country.
The numbers below reflect the gross production per patient who was seen for a comprehensive exam. Comprehensive exams are one of the best ways to indicate a patient who is new to the practice.
There’s little fluctuation in the price range below, but it’s a good estimate on what a new patient can bring into a practice.
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
According to Sikka Software, this number was derived from the ratio of average gross production to unique patients who received comprehensive exams in the six months prior to most current month.
So how do you keep new patients coming back and happy with what your practice offers? We talked to Lois Banta of Banta Consulting and she believes it comes down to five separate steps, starting with the phone call.
“When someone calls your practice, have your BEST communicator answer the phone,” Banta said. “This person’s position would be titled, ‘Director of First Impressions.’ The first impression happens on the phone.”
Banta also said 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
- Reveal any anticipated out of pocket expenses
- Send a “welcome to our practice” letter that mirrors the conversation on the phone.
Next comes the actual 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 5-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.
- Explain chairside what will take place during the exam.
- 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.
- Decide if the patient will need additional consultation appointment, 6-month re-care 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. However, at any point along the way, the opposite can be experienced,” Banta said. “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.
Source – This article was provided for reprint by SIKKA Software. SIKKA is the leading provider of business intelligence software for the dental industry. To learn more, simply visit www.sikkasoft.com.