I opened my practice four years ago. Most of my patients are on a two-year recall and some are on a one-year recall. I have noticed that some of the patients I saw in the first and second years have not returned. How can I get more information on this?

Attracting new patients is important for growing a prosperous business. But just as important, and some say more important, is retaining those patients who have already used your services.

In some areas there is a lot of competition, it’s difficult to gain new patients, and it can be 5 to 25x more expensive to acquire a new patient than keep an existing one. A focus on patient retention is very important for success.

In my opinion, you should invest more time and resources into your existing patients as you do try to get new ones. A useful starting point is to calculate your patient retention rate.

Start by:

  1. deciding on the time period you want to measure across
  2. add up the number of patients at the start and at the end of that period
  3. subtract the new patients gained
  4. divide the total number of patients at the end of the period by the number you had at the start.

So, for your practice, you could take the period from the end of year one to the end of year four.

Number of existing patients at the start of the period, for example, 3000.

Number of existing patients at the end of the period, for example, 7000.

Number of new patients during that period, for example, 5000

Retention % = Patients at end of period (7000) – New patients (5000)

Patients at the start of the period (3000)

This gives                                 2000/3000

This means that the retention rate is 66%. If this was the retention rate in my practice I’d look closely at the patients I’d lost and try to identify trends for why they might have not come back. For example, age, gender, location of home, type of lenses, and cost of spectacles. Are there any similarities? Is there anything I can improve?

It’s worth calculating your retention rate every 12 months and doing something about it if you are not happy with the number.


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