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Untapped Revenue: How to Reactivate Patients in a Dental Practice

How do we fill the holes in our schedule? Many of our clients have expressed concerns about the inconsistencies of their patient schedules. While there are many challenges that practices face in this uncertain economy, there is a potential resource of revenue that is often untapped in practices.

Who is over due?

When was the last time you audited your charts and reviewed the key computer reports, including the past due recall report, the missed appointments report, and the unscheduled treatment report? If you are not familiar with these reports, you should be. The information will put you in the position of being proactive rather than reactive to the ups and downs of your patient base. Start by making the most of the information that is right at your fingertips.

How many are leaving?

Many doctors focus a great deal of energy on new patients counts. How many times are you at a meeting and you hear a doctor talking about the 40 to 50 new patients a month they are getting from the latest marketing program that they paid big dollars for? The question you can ask "How many patients leave your practice each month?" Not many doctors will be able to tell you with any certainty.

You can determine your patient loss by reviewing your recall program over the last year. First, generate a report of patients due for recall without appointments for the last twelve months. If the total number of patients on the report is 500, divide that by twelve. In this example, the potential patient loss per month in the last year would be just over 40. If your new patient numbers are less than the loss, obviously the patient base is shrinking. Now what?

Make a personal call

The first step would be to assign a member of your business staff to contact all past due recall patients as well as those with incomplete treatment. Assign a specific goal for the number of calls to be made each week. Many times just a friendly reminder will work to get the patient to make an appointment.

Send a follow up letter

The next step would be to send a direct mail letter to every adult in your active and inactive files who is overdue or has a substantial incomplete treatment plan. The patient's account should also be in good standing. Be sure to include something about the importance of ongoing professional dental care and giving patients beautiful smiles.

Be sure the calls and letters promote the benefits, not the treatment. Consumers seek out those who can fulfill a need. Because a need is built on desire, what we desire we convince ourselves we need. Focus on the emotional aspects such as a whiter smile or chewing without pain.

Small investment, big payoff

Many studies have been done that show it is easier to keep a current patient or a customer than it is to attract a new one. Do not overlook the people who already know your practice who can be brought back with a small investment of time and personal attention.

Ken Smith is Vice President of Peak Performers, Inc in Wixom Michigan. Ken has over 25 years of experience in the health care industry, including directing the operations of a large group of dental practices. Ken's expertise is in the ”business of dentistry” and has helped many doctors and their teams get the maximum from their careers and practices.You can contact Ken at 888-477-7325 or at




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