Q: I have an ongoing debate with my friends. I think spending more time with new patients creates the most positive first impression. The last thing I want is for a new patient to feel that I’m rushing. I want to create a lasting relationship with the patient. Others feel that taking “that sort of time” with a new patient cuts down the number of patients in a day that can be seen, typically in hygiene.
How do we measure success with new patients? While more time spent may lower immediate production in hygiene, I feel it represents an investment of time and will reflect in productivity through a better relationship, trust, and treatment acceptance. I’d rather see fewer new patients if it results in higher productivity per patient due to the quality of the relationship.
A: This to me is an interesting subject, as there are so many different viewpoints out there about it. On top of that, it’s something that’s greatly influenced by a doctor’s clinical philosophy. That said, there are a few concepts that are constant from office to office, can be applied to almost any dental office, and that most everyone agrees on.
These concepts include:
- The sole reason for the existence of a dental practice is to produce a healthy patient (from a dental perspective).
- The main focus of the doctor is to complete treatment plans. So, if you keep or monitor statistics, that would be their primary statistic, not Production. (Overall office production falls under the job of the Scheduler Coordinator and is the statistic that they should be monitoring.)
- Production and Collections are merely indicators of how many patients you are helping to get healthy.
- You can’t get patients healthy if we do not have their cooperation.
- The only way we get their cooperation is through excellent communication and education. This way the patient understands what is going on with them, what needs to be done, and their responsibility in the overall game plan.
- The doctor is responsible for creating an environment where the patient gets adequate time to receive that communication and education in a friendly manner.
(Related: How to Turn Emergency New Patients into Great Long-Term Patients)
Don’t forget about your existing patients
Also, from my experience some dentists are so focused on New Patients that they lose sight of the fact that they have many existing patients that are already under their care and are counting on them to:
- keep them motivated to show up and
- get their treatment completed and properly maintained in the hygiene department.
Furthermore, by survey, statistics show that a fully 60% of dentists’ charts have outstanding treatment in them.
So, how many New Patients should you see and how long should you see them for? I think that as long as the points mentioned above are accomplished I would consider it a “success”. I have seen this done correctly many different ways. Therefore, I try to not interfere with the Doctor’s viewpoint on this as long as the business is viable and expanding and the patient is getting healthy.
I hope this helps! If you have a question you’d like to submit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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