What You Need to Know About Your Future Patients | Evaluating a Dental Practice to Buy

Q. What should I focus on in a patient demographic report?

A: As a buyer, two of the most helpful demographic reports are the age and geography reports. (Please note this is not a geography demographic report – you can read more about geography-focused questions here.) You can find this information in any patient tracking software. For the “Big Three” software systems, they are titled as follows:

Patient Age

Looking at the patient age distribution can give you some insight as to how the practice’s active patients might receive you, a younger doctor compared to a 40-year veteran.

Generally, older patients trust that their previous provider is passing the practice on to someone trustworthy and skilled. However, it’s not uncommon for them to be apprehensive about a young doctor. Older patients generally need more work done, too.

Looking at a practice with evenly distributed patient ages reduces the chance that happens or gives you a chance to strategize to mitigate the issue.

Patient age can also indicate what treatment is available for you.

A distribution skewed older may indicate a greater need for specialty procedures. Consider: Is this in line with something you’re wanting to do?

Additionally, older patients generally have more extensive health histories that need to be taken into consideration. 

This means, you (and the rest of your staff) have to make sure you know how specific medications, interventions and treatments can impact these patients. 

Patient Geography

When you submit a letter of intent, include a non-compete clause, even if the seller is retiring and will never pick up an explorer again.

Knowing where your patients come from is key to ensuring they will stay with your practice. Don’t assume a 10 mile non-compete is enough when 52% of your patients live 12 miles away. 

Once you see those zip codes, drive through those neighborhoods. Do you see the type of people you expect to see? 

In many broker reports, a doctor describes the area. The words “family”, “booming”, “professionals” are thrown around. If you like how the area is described, drive around those areas and make sure you’re verifying this information.  

Don’t go into a business transaction blind! Ask the office to pull these patient demographic reports so you can piece together what your transition and ownership might look like.

More Resources:

  1. Three Tips to Effectively Submit a Letter of Intent to a Seller 
  2. The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong About Active Patient Needs
  3. Labs and Supply Costs – The Magic Number