The most important part of your practice are your patients. Their loyalty and health are of the utmost priority. Your patients are so fundamental that we consider aside from your staff, that your active patient base to be the greatest asset in your practice. If you want to grow your dental practice, this should be one of the main KPIs you are tracking in your practice.
What is my active patient base?
How do you define your active patient base and who qualifies to be a part of that KPI? There are different opinions on what or who your active patient base is. Practices can choose to only count those with an active patient status or they can count patients as active over the span of a few years.
Recommended Active Patient Base Tracking
We recommend counting an active patient as unique patients that have been in the door within the past 18 months. If a patient comes in 20 times, they are only counted as 1 patient. If that same patient came in and had an inactive patient status, they are counted as an active patient again. This is because they have been in the door and a provider actually performed procedures with that patient therefore re-activating their active patient status.
If after 18 months an active patient doesn't come back in the door, they will lose their inactive patient status and fall into your attrition. The only exception to this is if you live in a specific location such as near a military base or vacation area where you know your patients could be gone for longer amounts of time. An example would be seeing a patient on their vacation - some patients only see the dentist on their vacations when they see family or are back in their home town. Inactivating should be an exception and avoided if possible.
Active Patients When Transitioning A Dental Practice
What a prospective buyer looks at first is normally your active patient base. Your active patient base tells a buyer that your practice has processes that work, well trained staff, and overall healthy goodwill.
If a large portion of the current active patient base are not scheduled into hygiene, a potential buyer knows that there is lots of opportunity in their purchase to make a substantial increase in production. The percentage of active patients in hygiene should be around 70%-80%. This number does fluctuate with doing specialty services, i.e. elderly patients, medicare etc.
How many active patients should a dental practice have?
How you determine how many active patients your practice should have depends on your practice's specific goals. You need as many active patients necessary to achieve your practice's mission, as well as your necessary and desired financial goals. If you are a specialty practice, your active patient base could be substantially lower than a general dentist because your procedures have a higher production value.
It's important to set goals for your practice and the expectation of what kind of practice you want to be. Doing this before trying to understand your numbers will make it an easier process because you'll know what you're looking for and what you want to focus on. Each practice will have its own way of reading and understanding its KPI's. That's why setting goals beforehand is so important!
As a dentist, the goal is to serve the patient as long as possible, and that only happens if they remain in the practice and invested in their oral hygiene. Your active patient base is so important because of the lifetime value of the patient. You don't want to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into getting patients in the door, only to have them walk out as attrition. Take the time to build relationships with your staff in a way where they, in turn, build healthy relationships with each patient. You will see the difference that time and care can make in your active patients base!