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9 Dental Patient Retention Statistics and Strategies

By: DoctorLogic Employee

Attracting and converting patients is just one part of your marketing strategy. The next step is making sure they stay. Patient retention is integral to the success of your dental practice and vital to the efficiency of your further marketing efforts.

Attracting and converting patients is just one part of your marketing strategy. The next step is making sure they stay. Patient retention is integral to the success of your dental practice and vital to the efficiency of your further marketing efforts.

Loyal patients don’t just have a high LTV (Lifetime Value); they also turn into brand ambassadors who stimulate a influx of new patients continuously. Before going into retention strategies, it’s important to understand the key benefits of these tactics.

Why Is Dental Patient Retention So Important?

Retention in dentistry carries immense value since it’s closely tied to revenue, reputation, and success.

Increased Lifetime Value

LTV is an important metric that demonstrates how much money a certain patient is likely to bring to your dental practice. The longer a patient stays with your clinic, the more revenue and profit they are likely to generate.

Higher Return on Investment (ROI)

When patients stay with your clinic and continue taking advantage of your dental services, they are increasing the marketing ROI.

The resources you invest in the marketing campaign don’t just pay off because patients continue using your services. They also allow you to save money on further marketing efforts thanks to word-of-mouth marketing.

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Positive personal recommendations are the top reason why patients choose one practice over another. When you work on patient retention, you turn patients into brand ambassadors who recommend your practice to their friends and family.

Less Time and Money Spent

When applied to marketing, the Pareto Principle dictates that 80% of your future profits come from 20% of your existing patients. That’s why investing in existing patients is often more profitable than focusing all your efforts on lead generation.

Meanwhile, the cost of retention is lower than the cost of acquisition since you already have all patient data available and know which pain points to address.

9 Essential Retention Statistics

  1. The average dental practice retains only 41% of new patients. (American Dental Association)

  2. The average attrition rate for dental offices is 17%. (Henry Schein)

  3. The top 10% of dental practices have an average attrition rate of 3%. (Dentistry Today)

  4. Practices that do not preschedule hygiene patients lost 15% - 18% more patients. (Dentistry Today)

  5. Automating appointment reminders reduces no-shows by 22.95%. (Dental Tribute)

  6. 30% of dental patients prefer text messages for appointment reminders. (Software Advice)

  7. 65% of dental patients over 35 prefer e-mail reminders. (Software Advice)

  8. 53% of patients prefer appointment reminders 1 to 3 days prior. (Software Advice)

  9. 70%-80% of new patient referrals come from the existing active patient base. (Henry Schein)

9 Ways Dentists Improve Patient Retention Rates

Focusing your efforts on improving patient retention rates can have a direct effect on your practice’s bottom line. Let’s take a look at patient retention ideas and strategies that work for dental clinics.

1. Segment Your Active Patient Base

According to retention statistics, demographics affect communication preferences. That’s why it’s important to segment your patients based on demographics. You may also need to prepare different communication channels for different procedures.

You may be able to segment your existing patients according to demographics, procedures, and preferences manually. However, ensuring proper communication with each segment can be tough without an automated email and text messaging system.

By segmenting the audience and automating communications, you can ensure a personalized approach that drives patient loyalty and retention.

2. Automate Appointment Reminders

No-shows don’t just hinder the efficiency of your practice; they frustrate your patients. To help patients keep their appointments, you can invest in healthcare marketing technology that includes automated email and text message communications.

With the right tools at hand, you can send appointment reminders automatically and ensure a higher rate of attendance. If possible, you need to personalize reminders with the patient’s name to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and drive loyalty.

According to statistics, you should send at least one appointment reminder one to three days in advance. If you want to send several reminders, warn patients about them so they don’t feel overwhelmed with messages.

3. Preschedule Patients Before They Leave

Scheduling the next appointment before the patients leaves the clinic is a great way to increase their LTV. You can train staff to ask patients if they want to schedule the next appointment before leaving and stress the convenience of such an approach.

This is especially important for hygiene patients, who are likely to forget about the need to schedule an appointment in six months. The goal is to create a culture that involves rebooking almost all patients for the next visits.

4. Offer Online, Real-Time Scheduling

Self-scheduling is an excellent way to increase patient satisfaction while reducing the time your dental practice spends on making appointments. Your website should give a patient an opportunity to see which spots are available while making it easy to book an appointment with just a few clicks.

Your scheduling app should integrate with EHR (Electronic Health Records) to ensure smoother appointment booking and a personalized approach to each patient.

5. Reactive Inactive Patients

Patients who haven’t visited your clinic in a while need special attention. They may not have kept their appointments for personal reasons but could be ready to return. To make sure you don’t lose these patients, it’s important to communicate with them regularly.

You need to implement a system that reactivates such patients through a combination of phone calls, text messages, and emails.

Instead of stressing them out with a shower of reminders, try to express care and concern. Provide valuable content about the benefits of preventative care and consider offering incentives.

6. Increase Online Visibility

To cement patient loyalty and outrun the competition, it’s important to maintain a dominant online presence. Besides attracting new patients, online visibility helps existing patients understand that they’ve made the right choice.

The success of your online visibility depends on the quality of your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM) efforts. To make sure they yield the expected results, it’s important to focus on local SEO for dentists and SMM tactics, such as boosted Facebook posts.

7. Build Trust and Credibility

Retention efforts begin as soon as the patient enters your clinic and continue through the patient’s lifetime. Since retention tactics are diverse and time-consuming, it’s essential to leverage healthcare marketing technology.

One way healthcare marketing technology helps retain patients is through automated solicitation and collection of Google Business Profile (GBP) reviews. Positive reviews on your GBP don’t just increase visibility; they contribute to the credibility of your practice.

Patients who come for hygiene and other basic procedures may need an additional push to trust your clinic with complex treatment, such as veneers or dental implants. Numerous positive reviews in your profile can drive both new and existing patients down the sales funnel.

Meanwhile, with proper reputation management efforts, you can show existing patients that you care about their opinion. This can also power your retention tactics.

8. Adapt to Patient Feedback

An important benefit of soliciting and managing Google Reviews is obtaining feedback. If patients are unhappy with some aspects of your services, they can mention them in reviews. It’s up to you to analyze this feedback and adjust your approach accordingly.

Listening carefully to what patients need and want is the key to anticipating their needs and improving retention.

If you see a less-than-5-star review on your GBP, you should respond directly to the comment as well as follow up with a patient personally.

9. Measure Your Progress

To improve your dental patient retention strategies, it’s important to figure out how well they are working. That’s why it’s important to use specific metrics that measure the progress:

  • Active Patient Count
  • Annual Patient Retention Rate
  • Annual Patient Growth Rate
  • Active Patients Overdue for Appointments
  • Average Lifetime Value of Patients (LTV)

While the majority of these metrics are easy to track, calculating average LTV can be more complicated. However, it’s still an integral measurement of your retention efforts.

Automate Dental Patient Retention with DoctorLogic

Automation is the driving force behind successful patient retention. DoctorLogic uses healthcare marketing technology to automate the retention of existing patients while attracting new ones.

With DoctorLogic, you can:

  • Automate appointment reminders through emails and text messages
  • Automate solicitation, collection, and posting of Google Business Profile reviews
  • Leverage local SEO best practices
  • Implement real-time, online scheduling

To see DoctorLogic in action, request a demo today.

Statistic citations:

  1. ADA Marketplace – American Dental Association. “Your step-by-step guide to a winning customer retention strategy.” https://marketplace.ada.org/blog/dental-marketing/your-step-by-step-guide-to-a-winning-customer-retention-strategy/

  2. Henry Schein. “The Most Important Number– The Active Patient Count.” https://www.henryschein.com/us-en/images/dental/activepatientcount.pdf

  3. Dentistry Today. “How to Understand Your Patients’ Customer Lifetime Value.” https://www.dentistrytoday.com/how-to-understand-your-patients-customer-lifetime-value/

  4. Dentistry Today. “How to Cut Patient Attrition by 50%.” https://www.dentistrytoday.com/how-to-cut-patient-attrition-by-50/

  5. Dental Tribune. “Study reveals how automated patient appointment reminders affect dental practice no-show rates and production.” https://us.dental-tribune.com/news/study-reveals-how-automated-patient-appointment-reminders-affect-dental-practice-no-show-rates-and-production/

  6. Software Advice. “Dental Software Patient Scheduling Preferences Industry View 2015.” https://www.softwareadvice.com/dental/industryview/patient-scheduling-report-2015/
  7. Software Advice. “Dental Software Patient Scheduling Preferences Industry View 2015.” https://www.softwareadvice.com/dental/industryview/patient-scheduling-report-2015/
  8. Software Advice. “Dental Software Patient Scheduling Preferences Industry View 2015.” https://www.softwareadvice.com/dental/industryview/patient-scheduling-report-2015/
  9. Henry Schein. “The Most Important Number– The Active Patient Count.” https://www.henryschein.com/us-en/images/dental/activepatientcount.pdf