How many patients should a dentist have?
An active patient base of 1300 to 1500 patients is ideal for a solo practice. A start-up practice will have less and will take a few years to build the practice base. Active patients are those that have been into the office for services in the last 18 months and are also scheduled for their recall or check-up visit.
A general dental practice goal is to add at least 25 new patients per month per full time dentist. The practice growth goal is 15% and must be supported by the addition of new patients.
One general dentist sees 10 to 15 patients average a day and each dental hygienist sees about 8 a day. The average number of patients for a practice with two hygienists and one full time dentist is 31 per day.
A dental practice will lose approximately 10% of its active patient base per year through attrition such as the patients moving, dying or losing their jobs or dental insurance, thus making it vastly important to continue to market to gain new patients and to retain existing patients. Rarely does a dentist say that they have “too many” patients. A dentist should always hire enough dental staff, to make sure an increase in patients can be accommodated.
To gain a continual feed of new patients into the practice a dentist must maintain a marketing plan that includes advertising in print such as direct mail pieces geared to promote the services and attributes of the dental practice. Word of mouth referrals from happy patients is encouraged and having an interactive website with a good SEO position is necessary to grow the patient numbers.
Having large numbers of patients isn’t necessary to be profitable but being able to motivate patients to accept recommended treatment and to purchase services that are aesthetic in nature usually results in fewer patients but higher production.