Patient Retention in Dental Practice Management

Best practices to retain patients of a dental practice.

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Q: How do I retain the patients after I buy the practice? 

A: To retain your patient base after a transition, there are two vital things you must do for the first several months. First, keep the staff. Second, maintain a similar clinical approach as the seller.

First off, the best thing you can do to keep those records in your database, is to keep the staff. 

I went over staff retention last week, and I absolutely recommend that you check out that post (and the video).

This week, it’s about clinical approach. 

Let patients know your care and approach to treatment is similar to the seller’s. A patient who has been given a clean bill of oral health five years in a row who now comes to you and is told told they need four fillings immediately? That won’t go over well.

I’m not saying your treatment plan is wrong. There’s a chance that the seller was extremely conservative or maybe even negligent. But going from a conservative to an aggressive approach will be jarring to the patient, and they may look elsewhere for a new dentist.

The flip side is true as well. Patients have a difficult time if the previous doctor had an aggressive treatment planned for three crowns and you’ve since downgraded those to some fillings. “What changed?” they’ll ask

Why? Because it’s different. The point is that the patient trusted the last doctor so if your advice is wildly different, alarm bells may go off telling them, “he just wants your money,” or “he’s not experienced enough to know what he’s looking at.”

Differences in technique are more than okay.  You may place a filling differently or use a microscope instead of loupes, or even loupes instead of the bare eye! But if your advice conflicts with what they’ve been hearing, there’s a good chance you’ll take their mouths elsewhere and possibly post a negative review on Google.

It’s important to take the time before the transition is complete to observe the doctor and dig into those charts to make sure you two are on the same page when it comes to what you diagnose and your plan to treat it.

Better yet, patient retention starts with your search. Find a practice that takes a similar approach to treatment that you do. 

If you can weed out the practices you foresee conflicts with beforehand, especially treatment conflicts, you’ll save a lot of time, head (and heart)ache, awkwardness, and money.

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Listen to this podcast episode to understand the legal documents you’ll see and what they mean when buying a dental practice.