6 Metrics That Determine the Success of Your Dental Practice
Many people will tell you that the most important dental practice metrics are production or revenue. As long as you’re tracking those and trying to improve on them, your practice will grow. That’s not entirely true.
Your overall production and revenue matter but knowing those numbers don’t necessarily mean your practice will thrive. Those metrics alone also don’t give you any indication of how to do better.
On this page, we’ll go over six metrics every dental practice should track, what the figure represents, and how to improve it, so the business side of your practice performs better and your patients benefit from improved care.
1. New Patient Count
A normal practice will see around 17 percent attrition each year per Dental Economics. That means if your office has 1,500 active patients, 255 will leave. Some practices see up to 40 percent attrition. That’s 600 patients lost annually. You’ll need 22-50 new patients each month, or 5-12 each week, to replace them.
Monitor your new patient count every week to ensure you’re staying on track. If you’re not attracting enough new patients, try improving your practice marketing.
For example, you can focus on getting more positive online reviews. Because 95 percent of prospective patients read reviews before booking, boosting your star ratings across the net is an easy way to increase new patient appointments. You can use an online reviews tool to automatically request reviews from your current patients after each visit.
2. Active Patient Count
Active patients are usually defined as patients who have been seen in your office within the last 18 months. The sweet spot is usually around 1,500 active patients for a solo dentist with no associates. If you’re significantly below 1,500, it’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to fill your schedule. If you have more than 1,500, it’s hard to work at a comfortable pace and patients may feel rushed or things may be overlooked. You may want to slow down on marketing or consider bringing on an associate as you near 1,500.
Regardless of your goal, though, keep an eye on your active patient count to ensure you’re on track to meet it.
Bear in mind, healthy practices don’t just replace their lost patients. They grow on top of replacing the lost patients. In a 2020 study, average practices held their patient counts steady. The bottom ten percent shrunk by 12 percent and the top ten percent grew by more than 18 percent.
That means if you aspire to be in the top ten percent of practices, and you presently have 1,500 patients, you should be targeting an active patient count of 1,770 by the end of the year. That’s 220 per year or 4 per week growth.
That also means your new patient goal shouldn’t really be 5-12 per week. You’ll need 9-16 to make it into the top ten percent of practices or you’ll need to significantly reduce attrition. You can do this by building better patient relationships. Communicating regularly through an e-newsletter and providing patients with self-service solutions can help.
3. Treatment Acceptance Rate
Patients who say “yes” to treatment not only boost production by completing their work but signify their commitment to staying with your practice, which means they’re more likely to come back for their recare and other visits in the future too.
However, most practices don’t track this essential dental practice metric. Instead, they create a guesstimate based on the patients they remember coming back for treatment and often assume they’re sitting around 60 percent.
In reality, most practices only have a 25-35 percent treatment acceptance rate for new patients. Existing patients are usually around 50-60 percent. High-performing practices can reach a case acceptance rate of up to 90 percent.
Monitor your treatment acceptance rate to see where you sit. If you’re approaching 90 percent, you’re on the right track. If you’re lower, try focusing more on patient education and providing patients with clear treatment plans.
4. Same-Day Hygiene Reappointment Rate
Same-day hygiene reappointment refers to whether the patient left their recare visit with their next recare visit scheduled. It may seem like a non-issue, but high same-day hygiene reappointment rates are another trait shared by top-performing practices.
Whereas a typical practice only manages to book about half of their hygiene patients before they leave, and the bottom ten percent only book 31 percent, the top performers get 70 percent of their patients on the schedule.
The reason for this is simple. The patient who leaves with an appointment is statistically more likely to show up for it. Only about ten percent of patients cancel or no-show. Moreover, reappointing patients at the time of service eliminates a roadblock. Nearly two-thirds of patients have skipped booking an appointment in the past year just because they don’t want to deal with scheduling per Med City News. You are making their life easier, and keeping your schedule full, by booking them when they’re already in the office.
This comes down to educating your team as to why reappointment is essential and including it in your workflow, whether the hygienist is responsible for booking it before the patient leaves the room or the front desk takes care of it at checkout.
Educating your patients is helpful too. If you’re struggling to get patients to commit to appointments that are six months out, try using leading language that assumes they’ll be scheduling, such as, “Will the same day and time six months work for you?”
If patients resist, gently remind them, “We book out so far in advance and I’d hate to see you fall off schedule if you can’t get in. How about we find a placeholder spot that is likely to work for you, and if it needs to be moved later, we can take care of it then – just let us know a couple of days ahead of time.” This trick reinforces the need to schedule, reminds them of your cancellation policy, and gets them on the schedule for an appointment they’re likely to keep.
If you’re just starting to measure your same-day hygiene reappointment rate, don’t stress if it’s lower than you’d like. Instead, institute policies that will improve your rate and then start measuring by the day, week, or month to see how you’re currently performing.
5. Pre-Appointment Rate
Pre-appointment rates are important for the same reason hygiene reappointment rates are. Patients who have an appointment booked are likely to keep their appointment.
The key difference here is that a pre-appointment rate represents the percentage of active patients with a future visit scheduled. It’s not just hygiene patients and the date the appointment was scheduled is not a concern.
A typical office usually hovers around a 50 percent pre-appointment rate. Those in the bottom ten percent of practices sit just below 30 percent. The top ten percent of practices exceed pre-appointment rates of 65 percent.
To boost this figure, low-tech offices have little choice but to send out postcards and play phone tag with patients trying to get them booked. Modern practices can use mass texting to get responses instantly. It pairs well with online scheduling, allowing patients to book whenever they’re free.
6. Collection Rate
The bottom ten percent of practices collect 94.5 percent of their net production on average, which doesn’t sound all that bad. However, the top ten percent collect 105.5 percent. Let’s look at what that really means for a practice with 1,500,000 in annual production.
- Bottom Ten Percent: $1,417,500 in annual collections
- Top Ten Percent: $1,582,500 in annual collections
That’s a $165,000 annual loss for the bottom ten percent, which works out to a $4,950,000 loss over the dentist’s career.
Naturally, practices can’t sustain collecting more than 100 percent of their production. It’s only achievable when you’ve had a deficit in previous years and your team is now collecting on old balances. But, this does demonstrate how a small difference in collections makes a huge difference in revenue.
Target at least a 100 percent collection rate. If you’re looking at the most recent 90-day window, you should probably be around 75 percent, as you’ll still have some insurance claims and patient balances pending.
Improve Your Dental Practice Metrics
All of the metrics mentioned above are provided in ThriveCloud Huddle, an interactive graphical panel of essential data that makes it easy to visualize the health of your practice and take steps to improve KPIs as needed. Because ThriveCloud is an all-in-one dental software solution, all the tools, from patient communication tools to marketing and education, are included at no additional charge too.
If you’d like to explore ThriveCloud and see how it can help you improve your practice metrics while saving you thousands each month, request a complimentary demo.