Patient Retention Strategies to Improve Your Dental Practice

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While attracting new patients to your dental office is important to expand the practice, retaining your current patients through a commitment to patient satisfaction is also of paramount importance. Putting patient retention strategies into action requires collaboration and dedication from the entire dental team. 

This blog post will delve into the importance of patient retention, explain how to calculate your patient retention rate and explore strategies for increasing it.

Why is Patient Retention Important? 

In addition to helping your practice maintain continuous revenue, there are countless other reasons to prioritize patient retention: 

  • Encourages Continuous Care: Proper dental health is an ongoing process that requires regular check-ups and dental treatments. When patients feel comfortable and return for follow-up appointments, their oral health is consistently monitored, and any issues are addressed immediately. 
  • Increases LTV: Lifetime value (LTV) is an important metric that shows how much money a patient is expected to bring to your dental office over time. The more satisfied a customer is, the longer they will stay with one office and the greater their LTV will be. 
  • Builds Relationships: Strong patient-dentist relationships are essential for any thriving dental practice. Your patients are more likely to trust an office where they feel comfortable and have a positive experience. Consistently providing quality care and maintaining open communication can foster trust and patient loyalty. 
  • Leads to Patient Referrals: If your patients are satisfied, they are more likely to refer friends and family to your dental office. Positive referrals can be a great source of new patients, helping the practice grow. 
  • Boosts Reputation: A dental office with a high patient retention rate typically has a better reputation within its community. This helps attract new patients and makes your practice stand out from competitors. 
  • Generates Data: Good patient retention allows you to collect data on patient outcomes, treatment effectiveness, and overall satisfaction. The data can be used to improve processes and enhance efficiency in your dental practice. 

Calculating Your Patient Retention Rate

Patient retention rate is a metric that shows the percentage of your current patients who remain loyal to the practice over a specific time period. The average dental practice typically retains around 41% of its new patients. Monitoring your practice’s rate can help you recognize when you should adjust your patient retention tactics. To determine your patient retention rate, follow the steps below:

  1. Decide what time period you would like to analyze (for example, the calendar year)
  2. Identify the number of existing patients at the start of the time period (S) 
  3. Identify the number of total patients at the end of the time period (E)
  4. Identify the number of new patients gained within the time period (N)
  5. Then, use the formula ((E – N) / S) x 100

The resulting number is your patient retention rate for the time you chose to analyze. Doing semi-frequent calculations, such as every year or two, can help you decide if your patient retention strategies are working. 

Strategies to Improve Your Patient Retention Rate 

To thrive in the competitive market of dentistry, patient retention is crucial to success. Once you know your practice’s current retention rate, you can set concrete goals for improving it. By implementing a combination of these patient retention strategies, you can strengthen your patient relationships and increase loyalty.  

  • Patient Appreciation Events: Over 70% of patients change their dental provider due to not feeling appreciated. Organizing patient appreciation events can be an effective way to demonstrate your commitment to and appreciation for your patients. Ideas include giving out swag, offering discounted services, or providing occasional refreshments and snacks to enhance the patient experience.
  • Flexible Payment Options: Providing various payment options and payment plans for pricey dental services can help you boost patient retention. This not only helps your patients manage their dental expenses but also increases patient satisfaction and leads to repeat visits. 
  • Punctuality: Starting and ending dental appointments on time at your dental office is crucial for patient retention, as it demonstrates respect for your patients’ time and enhances the overall patient experience. When patients’ appointments are punctual, they are more likely to trust and recommend your practice, leading to a higher chance of returning for future dental care. 
  • Reward Patients: Patient loyalty programs can significantly improve your patient retention rate. As a dental office, you can foster a strong sense of appreciation and connection with your patients by implementing a well-thought-out loyalty program. For example, patients can earn points for doing things like confirming their appointments, writing reviews, or making referrals. Then, they can earn dental-themed prizes or gift cards.
  • Online Presence: Having a strong online presence is essential to reach and engage with both new and current patients. Developing a professional website and keeping an active social media presence can attract and retain patients and give you greater control over your online reputation.
  • Provide Quality Care: Prioritizing the needs and wants of your patients and providing patient-centered care is essential for any dental practice. This approach supports positive dental experiences, establishes trust, and helps build strong relationships with each patient. 

In conclusion, patient retention is essential for a successful dental practice. While attracting new dental patients is important, ensuring the satisfaction and retention of current patients is the foundation of long-term success in dentistry.