Whenever I am performing an assessment for a dental practice with the hope of working with the team on better workflow, one of the most important numbers I look at in the Dentrix software is the patient retention number. In my last article, I told you we were going to take a deeper dive into what exactly patient retention is, how you find yours, and measuring how yours stacks up to the dental industry average.
First, let’s identify what patient retention is. If I was going to give you the most common definition, it would be “the percentage of your active patients who have come in for a regular recare visit within a defined time frame.” This “defined time frame” is usually within the past 12-18 months. I usually use the 18-month time frame, just because that is when I will also start sending my inactivation letters out to patients.
I remember working with a doctor in Washington state and he was convinced that all recare patients were scheduling and keeping their hygiene visits and no one was leaving the practice. When I pulled up the statistic in his Dentrix software, I asked him to sit down because he might fall over when I showed him the number. His patient retention was a whopping 66%! We had some work to do.
You might be wondering how I found that 66% patient retention and what report I was viewing. The Dentrix Practice Advisor report tracks some of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for monitoring the health of your practice. If you open the Office Manager > Analysis > Practice Advisor Report, click on Practice Advisor Setup. This is where you can set the defined time frame for calculating your active patients and recare retention. Then, when you click on the Practice Advisor Report, you have a lot of settings to select. The most important when looking at patient retention is over on the right side in the Continuing Care section. Make sure you are only highlighting the continuing care types for hygiene (Perio, Prophy, Recare) so that it will not add in any other types of procedures.
Now, 66% is the lowest I have ever seen the patient retention in a dental practice. The highest I have ever seen is 94%. According to U.S. Census data, the national average for patients who move out of their county is 8%, which probably means they are not going to the same dentist. You cannot control when a patient moves away and you cannot control when they die, so let’s work on the things we can control.
In our next blog post, we will talk how to influence your patients to stay and give them what they want. Stay tuned for another great conversation on increasing your patient retention in your practice.