If you consistently attract strong numbers of new patients yet your hygiene schedule is not as busy as you would like, it’s time to look closely at the potential reasons. Dental practice growth typically goes hand-in-hand with a thriving hygiene schedule.
One of the first places to analyze is your back door: how many patients are you losing? Not only keep track of the patients who transfer to a new practice—those are the ones you know who are leaving—but also keep a tally of inactivated patients: usually people you have not seen in the last two years. Compare the transfers and inactive patients to the number of new patients you have seen. Are you gaining or losing ground?
Also, make sure your new patient data is accurate. Your practice software may count guarantors as new patients even if you only see the guarantor’s family. In addition, you may attract emergency patients who are referred out for care and never return for follow up with you. These emergency patients are not really new patients until they receive a comprehensive exam and recommended care with your hygienist. Consider keeping track of those emergency patients separately from your new patient count. Not only will this help you see how many “true” new patients you have each month, but you can also monitor how effective you are at guiding new patient emergencies into preventive care.
Finally, look very closely at your recall system. Do you work it proactively or reactively? You may say that your system is proactive yet past due patients may go many months without contact from your practice. Consider a system where you consistently contact patients every two or three months until you classify them as inactive.
Since practice growth often hinges on a thriving hygiene schedule, take the necessary steps to ensure there is strong demand for your hygiene team.