2.12.16 Issue #727 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Why Do Patients Leave your Practice?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Dear Belle,
I have just gone over the recall lists and inactive patient lists and discovered that several patients have not returned to my practice. Should we call them? I would like to know the reasons they are gone.

Better get out the polygraph device, because the answers you get from surveys will trigger a reality check. In today’s social media world where we visit websites before we use a service – whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, dog groomer or dentist – we want to read about an honest yet positive experience. 

Market researchers have discovered that it is the question that is asked that will determine whether you get an honest answer or not. If the question(s) puts the respondent at risk for negative consequence or has no benefit to them to answer truthfully, there won’t be a candid reply.

People often rate questions in surveys or reviews as “Safe”, “Moderate Risk” or “No, I won’t answer that!” This is especially true if they want to continue having a relationship with the business being reviewed. Even if they give an honest appraisal of how they were treated in the dental practice, many wonder if it will actually change anything or if they will just be seen as a “trouble maker” or difficult to please.

So how do you know why patients really leave your office? If you called them would you get a politically correct reply instead of the truth? Take the patient who has been coming for years and never had a complaint or issue with anything, yet is a year overdue for recall. A courtesy call would be recommended with the following script:

(Office) Hello, this is Rae from Dr. J. Bee Dental calling for John Smith?
(Patient) This is John.
(O) Hi John, the reason I am calling is to schedule an appointment for you to see Dr. J. Bee for an exam and a teeth cleaning since it has been a year from your last appointment and we would love to see you. I have an appointment Thursday at 2:00, would you be available then?
(P) Well, I have switched to another dentist.
(O)  I am happy that you are continuing your care but sorry to hear that you aren’t coming to see us. Was there a reason that you switched so I can tell Dr. J. Bee?
(P) No. I just wanted to try my friend’s dentist.
(O)  I see, does that dentist offer something special that we don’t?
(P) Well, yes, it is easier to get the appointment time I need there.
(O)  If I could get you the same appointment time, would you return to our office?
(P)  I don’t think so, I have already started there and I am happy but thanks anyway.
(O)  If you could be so kind as to tell me how we might improve our services, I will give that information to the doctor.
(P) I would rather not say...Or the patient may decide to tell you what is really on their mind.

Tracking patient retention is one of the most important practice management tools you can use. An anonymous survey sent from a safe email server may change the response because most people are more apt to be honest if they can be anonymous. It is important to know whether your practice is growing, stagnant or in decline. Patient retention numbers are indicators as to a change in practice systems or in the business environment of the practice. If there are negative influences these will impact whether patients stay or leave your practice.

The simplest explanation of calculating patient retention is to simply divide the total number of patients seen on recall by the total number of patients due to be seen.
The first time you calculate and begin to track your patient retention (month over month), don’t get upset by whatever the calculation brings. After all, you didn’t know the number yesterday. Over time, as you track it each month on a spreadsheet, an average patient retention will come forth. Add up the total percentages of the last six months and divide by six to get an average patient retention number.

If you are seeing signs of poor patient retention or want to know where and what to look at, please don’t hesitate to call McKenzie Management today for help with this important practice concern.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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