5 Ways to Improve Patient Retention

Filed under: Communication, Dental Practice

Marketing is a valuable and necessary tool for acquiring new patients, however, retaining the ones you have is even more cost-effective – and easier to achieve. Although the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that dentists retain less than half of the patients they see, it doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion.

Patients leave a dental practice for a variety of reasons, such as relocation and natural attrition, but other factors that could contribute to patients not returning may include:

  • Rude or indifferent staff
  • Dissatisfaction with care
  • Affordability
  • Inefficient scheduling
  • Uncomfortable waiting room

While it may not be realistic to convince every disgruntled patient to stay, there are steps to improve patient retention that can proactively ensure a happier practice for everyone. Here are five areas to easily address.

A Matter of Convenience

Is your practice convenient to find, access, and engage with? You may not be able to change your actual location, but you can make sure it’s easy find, with adequate signage and ample parking.

Not just geographic, but digital convenience must be considered as well, by having a website that is simple to navigate with visible contact information and flexible usability across all devices. A patient portal with around-the-clock access can be timesaving for both patient and staff.

If patients are having trouble getting an appointment and moving on, it may be worthwhile to extend your hours, perhaps one extra evening per week or Saturday each month.


Of course, it’s the people who make a practice run so it only makes sense that a knowledgeable and friendly staff will help keep patients coming back. Make sure that every client is treated like more than a number – or worse, a dollar sign – by training your team well.

Whether it’s the employees answering the phone, cleaning the teeth, or performing oral surgery, everyone should have a common goal of excellent, empathetic patient care. Many practices are facing staffing shortages so focus on quality hiring and employee retention and the patients will follow.

Communication Counts

A dentist visit can be fraught or overwhelming for some patients so it’s vital to have a good line of communication open to reduce that stress and make them feel valued. Start by explaining procedures and treatment plans in detail so they know what to expect.

Keep those lines open after they leave the office with follow-up calls, emails, or texts to notify them of aftercare or upcoming appointments. And it doesn’t have to be just about their dental care. Use social media and email marketing to share information patients can use, staff changes, new hours, or office events.

Speaking of social media, communication goes both ways. Keep an eye on online reviews and respond quickly – for the good and the bad – so patients feel heard.

Money Matters

Few practices are in the position to change prices just to improve patient retention, but you can make the money side of business less uncomfortable to deal with. Having a good financial system in place, including a dedicated team member to discuss insurance and payment options, can reduce past-due and collection issues, which will lend itself to more treatment acceptance and return patients.

That said, everyone loves a deal and offering a special on a popular service or membership benefits can keep patients coming back.

The Little Things

As with any business, it can be the small extras that contribute to customer retention and the possibility of referrals. It’s easy to go beyond solid oral healthcare, an organized staff, and a good location with a few thoughtful efforts, such as:

  • Knowing your patients enough to ask about something they mentioned last visit.
  • Sending a personalized birthday wish each year.
  • Providing Wi-Fi in the office.
  • Calling after a difficult appointment to see how the patient is doing.
  • Utilizing headphones or spa masks to make chair time more comfortable.

By making some simple improvements, you’ll enhance patient retention by building on existing relationships, which will ultimately lead to positive press and referrals.

At RAMP, we’re dedicated to helping build all aspects of the dental practice, from reaching potential new patients and maintaining a loyal client base. Give us a call or email us today for a complimentary review of your current marketing strategy.