Where Did All The Patients Go?

Understanding why your patients aren't coming back to the office is key to combating patient attrition.

Where Did All The Patients Go?
Where Did All The Patients Go?
July 13, 2022
Recall Service

Dental practices are working to capture patients that cancelled during 2020, either due to shutdowns or other reasons. Trying to reschedule patients can often be a challenge for an array of reasons. There are a variety of barriers expressed when patients are reluctant to schedule dental care, whether if be for restorative or preventative care. Many dental offices are seeing a lower patient volume compared to early 2020 and finding ways to engage more patients to return to daily care are utilizing outside resources, including Reach.

Engaging Patients and Creating Value

One of the most common reasons patients don’t return to consistent dental care is a lack of understanding and the perceived value of care. Preventative dental care is often perceived as “only to check for cavities” rather than the expertise of the dental team providing therapy to screen for cancer, helping ensure healthy smiles and prevention of oral diseases.

Let’s take a crown for example, the cost of $1000 makes many patients hesitant to accept a treatment plan. They can think of many other things they would rather spend that money on. Often patients state they have not scheduled treatment due to a lack of communication with their dental office, including not getting answers to questions (value) and the fees are too high. This leads to a bad customer experience and a lack of perceived value for the restorative procedures. When in reality, once the patient realizes that crown will preserve remaining tooth structure, possibly eliminate sensitivity and can help them retain the tooth for a lifetime versus extraction the value is realized. Good communication often leads to case acceptance.

Breaking Down Barriers

There are many barriers that keep patients from scheduling care. Determine the barrier to treatment and provide education and greater understanding of need by utilizing technology to reinforce the message to your patients. Demonstrating the value of dental care when suggested treatment is completed, including the overall health benefits, is a key driver to case acceptance.

Many in society are still hesitant to return to daily living activities due to fear of COVID exposure or fear of dental treatment alone. Reach statistics find that 16% of patients state they will “let the office know” when they are ready to schedule, whereas 12% state they are “too busy” at this time. This leaves a large part of your unscheduled and overdue patients still needing a dental visit. Frequently those patients simply forgot to schedule and a reminder call prompts a response.

Establishing trust and value will create advocates for your practice and generate referrals. For many patients who are unscheduled it may be as simple as they got off track when the world was upside down, whereas others need that reminder and assurance their concerns are heard. Attention to details and contacting patients at a convenient time to address barriers can help capture lost patients.