How Many of Your Patients Are Still Your Patients?

I’ve always been curious about how many inactive patients are not really patients anymore.  Well, now I know.  Since we launched our ReActivation Pro service, which uses live operators to call through a practice’s inactive patients, we’ve accumulated some very interesting data.

The graph here shows the results from 10,000 calls.RA slides.002-001

These calls were made to patients who had not been in the practice in 12 months and did not have a scheduled appointment.  The first number that struck me was that 32% of the “inactive” patients had actually found another practice.  These weren’t people who moved away–that’s another 14%–but people who deliberately found another dentist.  Add to that the next 5% who hadn’t found another dentist yet, but were not satisfied with the care of the practice.  At that point you’re at more than half the total inactive patients.

As I dug deeper into the numbers, I also found that less than a third of the people who found another dentist did so because their insurance changed.  As the dentist, wouldn’t you want to know why the rest of those people deliberately looked for another practice?  I sure would.

You can see that we managed to appoint 22% of the inactive patients, which is certainly encouraging.  In fact, it’s exciting.  That’s a whole lot of pending treatment that is finally getting scheduled.  And the dentists who use the ReActivation Pro service tell me that they are very pleased to get those patients back in, but almost universally they tell me they value the feedback on why patients left as much or more than the reactivated patients.

I admire that, because it means they are willing to learn and grow, and figure out what they are doing wrong. We all know that we’re not perfect, but sometimes feedback and criticism is hard to take. (This is where my wife would chime in and say, “Sometimes?!?  With you it’s all the time!) But we all can get better, and sometimes we’re missing something obvious.

Sometimes the feedback is painful. We’ve had more than one instance where patients said the dentist had bad breath.  Many people say that the costs were just too high (which means that the dentist wasn’t building value before mentioning the cost of treatment).  Others just didn’t like the attitude of one of the team members.

As you can see, there is great value to being able to gather this information and reactivate as many patients as possible at the same time.  The two main reasons we succeed with this service is because we call between 4 and 8pm, so we have a much greater chance of reaching the patients.  And second, this is all our operators are doing. They are not multi-tasking at the front desk, trying to answer insurance questions, collect money, reschedule patients, and explain why the practice is running half an hour behind schedule.  They are just calling, listening, probing and encouraging the patients to come back in, and finding out why they won’t.

Some dentists may say, “My staff should be doing this already.”  Yes, they probably should.  But would they get to it on a daily basis?  And do it consistently month after month? Would they stay late and do it after hours, when they are more likely to reach people?  Probably not.

My mantra is, if you want radically different results, don’t do the same thing harder, do something different. The results we get with ReActivation Pro are exponentially higher than what the team does because it applies this principle. Currently this service is being offered exclusively through Patterson Dental, and if you’d like more information about it call 1-855-234-6910.

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4 thoughts on “How Many of Your Patients Are Still Your Patients?

  1. Great data Fred…..you are so right. It is impossible for reactivation to take place while patients are being cared for. Every month that ticks by without a personal call those percentages of found another dentist grow. Keep up the great job.

  2. In terms of patients who move, the 2010 census said that about 12.5% of people move in a given year (very close to your numbers). What it also revealed is that 70% of those who moved did so within the same county, which means staying at their current dentist’s practice just wasn’t worth traveling a few extra miles for most of them.

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