In the last five years, dental practices have been placing a greater focus on new patients and marketing. Dave Stone, DC Marketing Specialists, stated in the 1-800-dentist.com February 2005 Newsletter that the average dental practice loses between 15 to 20 percent of their base every year; 7 to 8 percent move out of your marketing area each year and the rest leave for various reasons.
When we engage with a client, we begin by conducting a practice analysis to gain a better understanding of the practice’s current state. One item the analysis addresses is the attrition rate. As a part of this process, a representative contacts patients that have left the practice to gain knowledge as to what impacted their decision to leave. We also set up systems to measure the attrition rate as we move forward with our coaching services. It was during this phase of the analysis that we noticed the following reasons sited by patients as reasons to leave:
- They no longer trust the dentist or staff
- Patient moved out of town/ state
- Patient decided to go to dentist closer to home
- They decided to go to an “in-network” dentist The percentages will vary from office to office depending on the location of the practice and economic conditions.
In the last three years, the main reason why patients have left is do to a lack of trust. As you can see from some of the patient comments posted below, lack of trust can range from not being seen on time to inconsistencies with billing.
Sample of Patient Comments:
“Every time I go to the dentist, she finds a new cavity or work that needs to be done.”
“I don’t understand why in the last month, I had 3 abscesses – especially since I have been going to the dentist routinely every 6 months.”
“It seems that when I had dual insurance the dentist was telling me more of what I needed. Since I lost my insurance he does not seem to do that anymore. I felt I was not getting proper treatment.”
“My appointments were always 1 to 2 hours longer than what I was told. Don’t they know I have other things to do? It is almost like they don’t respect my time.”
“There is always an issue with the billing. I really like the dentist, but I don’t like it when I am told my insurance will cover most of my treatment, only to end up paying more than what I was told. “The office never returned my calls. I constantly had to call and make sure I got my answers.”
“I felt the dentist was not listening to what I wanted. They were really trying to push me to accept what they wanted to do. I told them I will never have an implant and I wanted a bridge, but she kept telling me that she does not believe in bridges. I had to find someone who did.”
Please feel free to contact Strategic Practice Solutions for more information on how to track your attrition rate.