5 ways to stop revenue-killing attrition in your dental practice

April 20, 2016

Attrition is devastating to a practice, and not for the reason most practitioners think. Many assume that they are only losing revenue from one patient, and that there is always another new patient around the corner to make up the difference. However, loss of patients not only results in revenue loss but also in added expenses in marketing and onboarding new patients so the practice can maintain patient flow.

Attrition is devastating to a practice, and not for the reason most practitioners think. Many assume that they are only losing revenue from one patient, and that there is always another new patient around the corner to make up the difference. However, loss of patients not only results in revenue loss but also in added expenses in marketing and onboarding new patients so the practice can maintain patient flow.

Not only that, but each patient represents a network of opportunities, since they will recommend their preferred practitioners to their friends and family. This triple hit can have a negative effect on practice value and take-home pay and can adversely affect your ability to grow your practice and serve the dental needs of the community.

Despite the far-reaching effects of attrition, these numbers are not often monitored or used to create actionable plans to reverse the effects. This article will discuss five ways to reduce attrition by understanding the numbers and stopping the process before it begins.

Related reading: The latest revenue data for dental practices across the nation

Set attrition criteria

The first thing you need to determine is when a patient is considered to have permanently left a practice. This is often defined as not having been seen in a practice for a certain length of time. There are two common options, 12 months and 18 months. Pick a date that makes sense to your patients. If you see that patients often come annually, it might be good to pick an 18-month cutoff.

Track attrition rates

Now that you have a criterion, you can measure attrition rate over time. Look at your monthly and annual attrition rates, and see if there are any patterns. Do any changes to your practice, staffing, location or equipment have a positive or negative impact? This is your baseline measurement for evaluating the impact of your future patient retention programs.

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Calculate lifetime value

The second number you want to track is lifetime value. This is what you expect to earn, on average, in revenue from a patient during the time they attend your clinic. The number of patients that leave your practice have a direct negative impact on the lifetime value, as patients leaving reduces the expected revenue. Compare lifetime value to the cost to acquire new patients, via marketing and promotions, to ensure that your marketing costs are proportional to patient revenue.

 

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Survey says...

Every dentist has patients who leave the practice; some move away, others switch providers and some even halt care entirely. There are two types of surveys that you should utilize. The first is a regular survey given out at the time of care to capture how patients view the practice, the professionals and quality of care. Ask about their entire experience, from booking appointments to parking, and checking in to follow up.

This is important for building a practice where patients are satisfied and want to return for future care. The second is to survey patients who have left the practice. You should not assume you know why they left, as their answers may surprise you. As a dentist, it can be challenging to keep an eye on the entire practice at all times, and understanding how patients view the experience can help you play to strengths while addressing patient pain points.

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Build a plan

Once you understand your attrition rates including the reasons patients leave or return, it is time to build a plan. Your goal should be to maximize lifetime value through controlling for attrition while keeping marketing costs comparatively low. Build a plan around emphasizing strength, rewarding loyalty and keeping your expertise in the forefront of a patient’s mind.

Attrition not only affects your revenue but also drives up costs in acquiring patients to maintain the same patient volume. Through understanding attrition and lifetime value metrics and how your patients perceive your practice, you can create a plan that targets your patients’ needs, increasing the likelihood that they will continue to visit you for their oral healthcare needs.  

You can build your marketing campaigns, reactive patients and create targeted marketing pieces through Sikka Software’s PatientHomePage®. To find out more visit https://www.sikkasoft.com/product/patienthomepagedental/

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