For many dentists, retaining patients is a major priority. A 30-year ongoing study by the Levin Group found that the average practice loses around 15 percent of patients each year. That’s twice as much as their top-performing peers.
Losing patients at such rates significantly impacts a practice’s bottom line. Consultancy firm Bain and Co have found that reducing patient attrition by just 5 percent can increase practice profits by at least 25 percent. Given that patient acquisition efforts typically cost 25 times more than retention efforts do, it makes good sense for clinicians to prioritise retention over acquisition.
As in many other sectors, poor customer experience is a main driver of attrition in dentistry. The COVID-19 pandemic has confronted dentists with a range of challenges – from waiting room restrictions and shorter chair times to PPE requirements – making it harder to provide patients with the optimal, personalised care that they’d want to deliver. Those who got this right and managed to maintain or even strengthen patient loyalty this past year are now reaping the rewards and benefiting from pent up demand.
Patient consent is the backbone of customer satisfaction: studies found that patients who are well-informed about the risks and benefits of their treatment demonstrate better compliance, report better and safer care, and are more likely to rate their treatments highly. Clinicians benefit from these gains through patient loyalty and retention. Crucially, robust consent processes also reduce the risk of complaints and litigation.
However, gaining consent can be a cumbersome and time-consuming affair, even in good times. Many clinicians lose time amending and printing consent forms or worry about possible mistakes. Others share the document per email, with no means to verify whether the patient has read or signed the form.
The pandemic has introduced new challenges to the process. Fallow time requirements, for example, have intensified time pressures, whereas PPE has complicated communications, in particular with the elderly, anxious and hearing impaired patients
. As a result, clinicians are now even more reliant on written communications.