40% of dentists report lower volumes
I recently read a promotion that stated it “costs” 7x less to retain a patient than to attract a new one. And there’s a pretty standard message for marketers and business owners that acquiring a new customer can “cost” 5x more than retaining an existing customer.
Except dentistry is different.
The “cost” of NOT acquiring a steady flow of new patients is far more severe than saving some marketing dollars. It costs practice profits, impacts growth, staggers security, and it can really devastate valuation.
Hey, don’t get me wrong – we’re in the retention business too! Increasing retention by 5% can increase profits by 25% or more, BUT you cannot grow practice results with retention alone. In fact, dental offices that haven’t focused on new-patient generation over the past 18 months are struggling to regain previous production levels. The industry average remains below pre-COVID activity.
In fact, as of November 15th, the ADA survey results revealed that just 62.5% of dental offices are open with business as usual and 36.5% are experiencing lower than usual patient volumes. Group organizations are doing a little better, while solo offices are experiencing a tougher time with 40.3% reporting lower than usual volumes.
Comparatively, Patient NEWS’ client production is trending at 11% higher for 2021 than 2019, almost 30% higher than 2020, and clients have been experiencing consistently growing results since June of this year.
How have they done it? By focusing on the patient experience with a multi-channel communication mix, complimented with results tracking in Practice ZEBRA. Communicating consistently with your community, using both print and digital means, and including quality educational information builds patient trust, shapes patient behavior, and stages the way for improved case acceptance.
That’s why it cannot be about one thing costing less or one thing costing more. It’s about looking at the true “cost” of neglecting acquisition AND/OR retention.
Here’s how you can assess your situation (and if you don’t have these answers at your fingertips, ask your Patient NEWS representative to help you with Practice ZEBRA):
- Did you add roughly 600 new patients per practitioner in 2021?
- How many patients did you lose in 2021?
- Did you end up with a net gain or and net loss in active patients?
- Is your active patient count higher now than it was in January 2021?
- Is 2021 production higher than 2019, is it flat or … declining?
Again, our client production is 11% higher YTD than it was in 2019. They are ’WAY ahead of the industry. And there is more we can do to help you educate your patients and get those butts in chairs and getting the care they so urgently need.
According to a survey by AAE, over 50% of the population say the pandemic has caused them to put off checkups. We know this will impact overall health, and the stats prove that people with gum disease are not only more likely to be hospitalized when they contract Covid-19, they are more likely to DIE from its effects. And 28% of consumers say they didn’t, or forgot, to schedule a visit.
These numbers are reflected in the industry data. On average, even for our super-productive clients, 25% of what you’d call “active patients” haven’t actually had any activity in the past 9 months. Those patients are lapsing and probably out of your reminder programs. On the other hand, the top 10% of practices have only 5% in a lapsed state. And hygiene reappointment … it’s averaging 53%. Yikes. Although it’s totally possible to get patients scheduled – that stat is at 84% for top-performing practices. Again, not sure of your metrics? We can help with a quick view in Practice ZEBRA.
It’s a “right now” situation to implement an improved strategy for 2022. Schedule a free consultation today and talk to your account manager about your situation. It could be a few very simple small steps that we can take care of for you that will make a huge impact on your 2022 results.
Whether it’s communication to build awareness and start the conversation for new patients, or communication to increase efficiency, or to improve patient outcomes and patient satisfaction – so patients return and refer – we have you covered.
And we are the best when it comes to this stuff. We’ve been creating and curating content for dental offices since 1993. Our content is top-quality and will make you look awesome in your community.
- Quarterly patient newsletters mailed to patient homes (the only way to reach 100% of patients) – isn’t that just the right thing to do? I’ve heard that marketing legend Dan Kennedy says that the primary way dentists should communicate with patients is through print. Probably because it’s most effective, most appreciated, and most trusted of all mediums.
- Monthly email newsletters (with open rates double that of industry average) – we make them super-easy. You don’t have to worry about a thing, they just happen.
- Direct mail newsletters to targeted homes within market area to support your brand reputation as the expert in your field, to build awareness, reactivate lapsing patients, and attract a steady flow of high-value new patients (worth almost 2X that of an active patient).
- Updated, modern, fast websites for a great patient experience.
- Paid media (PPC) campaigns to capture patients at search.
- Review Booster to generate more positive reviews (and provide value added educational content).
- Automated patient communications for all the right touchpoints.
- Phone Power telephone training to improve the patient experience and schedule more visits.
- And get your eye on key performance metrics with automated weekly reports.
There is a cda-adc research guide that confirms the impact of dentist-patient communications and its direct bearing on patient perceptions of the care provided, the level of trust placed, and the success of treatment.
100% of our clients confirm that an educated patient is a better patient.
And you need to acquire and retain, and content marketing is the best way. Naturally occurring attrition takes out 15-20% of an active patient base annually. Competitive markets, over-confident adults (who “think” their mouth is healthy), and a lack of good patient communication result in further attrition. And a new patient brings in strong new-production opportunities and they bring new referrals.
What does this mean for dentists?
If you’re sitting with a strong $1.5 million dollar practice and 2,000 active patients and are feeling great – consider that these statistics mean that 500 patients aren’t connected, and unless you’re bringing in at least 40-50 new patients each month, you’ll be in a negative net patient count by year end.
So it’s not what costs less, it’s what actually COSTS MORE. The lack of focus on new patients will COST a lot more to practice security, the ability to invest in new technologies and continuing education, and to make practice improvements you want and need to secure the practice future and improve valuation.
Speaking of valuation and transition, we’ve seen a lot over our 28 years, but oh my goodness have we seen a ton in the past year! And the practices that are getting the best bang for their buck are those dental offices that have invested heavily in a marketing mix that includes actions and tactics to attract new patients AND retain existing patients.
So what do you want to achieve in your practice in 2022?