Before considering an associate, make sure you have enough patients. Measure the number of truly “active” patients. Start with key computer reports, including the past due recall report, the missed appointments report, and the unscheduled treatment report.
1. Generate a report of patients due for recall from today’s date to one year from today. Indicate that you are seeking to identify all patients with and without appointments on the report.
2. Tally the number of patient records in the computer system and divide that by the number of patients in the recall system. For example, if there are 4,759 patient records on file and 1,737 patients in the recall system, patient retention would be at 36%.
3. Now subtract the number of active patients from the number of total patient records in the system. Using the example above that number would be 3,022.
4. Divide that number by the number of months the records represent. For example, if you believe that active charts represent the period from 11/09 through 2/13 that would be 39 months. In this scenario, the practice is losing 78 patients per month.
Obviously the patient base is shrinking. Now what? For starters, don’t hire a full-time associate. Instead, implement a patient retention program and look carefully at clinical efficiencies. When it comes to clinical efficiency it can never be compromised, but it can almost always be enhanced.