Every dentist wants new patients, and most have some form of marketing in place to attract new patients. Sometimes the marketing is an offer of discounted or free services, and sometimes it is about being part of the insurance network or the existence of an in-house membership plan. The best marketing and advertising are designed to pull in patients, and it is up to the individual dentist and team to retain the patient after their encounter with the office.
In the best of times, only about 42% of people see the dentist regularly. Most would like to visit more, but finances are the problem, along with fear. Because each patient represents revenue for the practice, when a patient leaves the practice never to return, it is a definite loss.
The COVID 19 pandemic has erased the values because dentistry was shut down as non-essential for a few months. Now, most practices operate far below the level they had before the pandemic. Fear of catching the virus along with lost jobs and insurance coverage has made patients visit fewer than in the past. Each patient now has an even higher value because of the scarcity of visits.
The ADA estimated that the average dentist is spending an extra $15 to $20 per patient due to measures related to COVID-19 prevention. Many dentists ask the patient to pay for the additional costs, but some are afraid of losing the patient.
Due to social distancing and infection control, dentists are also unable to see as many patients as usual, which affects the revenue per hour they need to produce to survive.
Each new patient’s actual dollar value depends upon the fees charged, whether insurance is involved and what services are needed, and the time to treat. Most practices have a production goal provided by their accountant or dental consultant. They need to make this goal to pay the overhead.
For the sake of illustration, look at your standard fee schedule and add the fees for a typical new patient visit of a comprehensive examination, full series of x-rays, and regular prophylaxis. This amount will be the minimum for the visit of about one to two hours. So say this is 350.00 total. After the evaluation and a treatment plan are rendered, the patient may need an average of 2,500.00 to 3,000.00 in services such as fillings and a crown and or quadrants of periodontal scaling and root planing. The value of this new patient would be about 3,325.00. If you attract 20 new patients a month, this could generate about 67,000 for the month. If this is an insured patient, you may collect about 30-40% less depending upon the policy.
Each patient has the potential for a revenue stream. Now, what if a new patient, along with restorative services, needs a retreat endodontic procedure on an upper right molar? Because of the urgency of the procedure, the patient is now referred out of the office to the endodontist’s practice.
The patient is referred and is told that they need to return to your office after completion to have the crown and build-up treatment.
What if you never hear from the patient again? You have lost a patient and the revenue that you so dearly need to survive. You contact the endodontist who has referred the patient to an oral surgeon for extraction because the tooth was cracked and could not be saved. You didn’t receive a call, and you think you never got the report, but there it is on your desk in a pile of mail that you haven’t read yet.
What happened to this patient, and why did they “fall through the cracks?” It is now up to you or someone on your team to track the patient down, find out how they feel, and get them in for other necessary treatment.
If you had contacted the specialist and the patient during this process, you would not have lost the patient. There is a solution to this scenario for referring the patient safely and securely and tracking their progress. Refera has developed the technology to manage each referral and provide you with the ability to quickly access the information and communicate with the specialist and the patient.
Don’t lose another patient; contact us today for our free offer.