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Understanding and Improving Your Dental Patient Attrition Rate

Keeping patients from falling through the cracks can be hard. Here's some tips on how to improve your attrition rate.

Dental Intelligence

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November 9, 2023

Keeping a close eye on your dental practice’s key performance indicators (KPIs) is important to your practice success. You can’t fix what you don’t know, and in the busy day-to-day tasks of running a dental practice, it’s easy to overlook minor issues that could turn into big roadblocks down the line. 

One KPI you should be tracking closely is your patient attrition rate. What is patient attrition, and how do you improve it? Read ahead to learn more. 

What Is Patient Attrition? 

Patient attrition is the opposite of retention. It’s the process of losing patients. 

Even the best dental practices lose patients occasionally, but if your attrition rate is too high, there’s probably something going on. Maybe your patient experience isn’t the best. Perhaps your prices are higher than the dentist down the street. Or maybe you don’t offer all the services the average patient needs to maintain good oral health. 

Tracking your patient attrition rate is the first step in improving it. The average dental practice experiences an attrition rate of between 10% and 40%; in other words, they lose between 10% and 40% of their patients over time. For a practice with 1,000 active patients, these rates equate to losing 100 to 400 patients annually. 

The Cost of Patient Attrition 

Patient attrition isn’t only disheartening; it costs your dental practice a lot of money. 

Think about the average profit you make from each patient. Some dentists estimate an average profit of $56 per appointment, and most patients schedule at least two appointments yearly. With an attrition rate of even 20% and a total patient base of 1,000, your practice is losing $22,400 annually. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to fall prey to a rising attrition rate. You can take a few measures to retain more patients and grow profitability. 

Tips To Minimize Patient Attrition

Follow these tips to minimize your patient attrition rate and improve retention:

Set Up a Patient Loyalty Program 

Patient loyalty programs are simple solutions that work wonders for patient retention. Sometimes, patients only need a small motivator to schedule routine appointments and develop a sense of loyalty to your dental practice. That motivator could be a simple program offering small rewards for sticking with your practice. 

You can quickly set up a patient loyalty program with Dental Intelligence that gives patients points for completing several actions. Then, they can redeem their points for small rewards, like Amazon gift cards, discounts on upcoming treatments, or electronic toothbrushes. 

Setting up this loyalty program won’t take any time or stress on your part, but it can significantly impact patient retention. 

Automate Appointment Reminders

Sometimes, patients drop off the calendar because of forgetfulness. They may have forgotten that they scheduled an appointment with you or that they need to schedule a biannual exam.

Setting up automatic appointment reminders can give these patients a refresher and motivate them to keep returning for appointments.  

Offer Online Scheduling

In this digital age, patients like being able to schedule appointments without needing to talk to anyone. Online scheduling removes several barriers to appointment scheduling, especially for patients who already have anxiety about dental appointments and are looking for excuses not to schedule. 

For new patients, finding a dental practice that offers online scheduling could be the deciding factor in choosing that practice. However, for existing patients, online scheduling could minimize the temptation to stop scheduling their much-needed dental appointments. While it won’t hurt anything, it is good to consider since it could improve patient retention.

Pre-Schedule Patients Before They Leave

Some patients will be much more likely to return to your practice if you schedule their next appointment before they leave the office rather than relying on them to schedule instead.

Because good dental care requires biannual cleanings, you’ll always have an opportunity to schedule a patient’s next appointment. Just having an appointment on the calendar is a great motivator for patients to return; often, it’s more work for them to reach out and cancel the appointment than to keep it. 

Manage Dental Patient Attrition with Dental Intelligence

A high attrition rate could seriously hurt your dental practice, but thankfully, this figure isn’t outside your control. With Dental Intelligence, you can easily track your patient attrition rate and a range of other statistics for measuring customer loyalty, then implement automatic retention strategies to keep patients coming back for more. 

Request your Dental Intelligence demo today to learn more about our end-to-end practice performance solution. 

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