A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Evaluating Dental Practice Metrics

Information is integral to maximizing your practice’s profits and efficiency.


Dentists continue to look for ways to grow their practice revenues and optimize efficiencies. One way to uncover opportunity is in the data already present. Several types of metrics are available within your dental practice management software. Metrics programs allow you to not only extract data but provide valuable information to guide owners in strategic business decisions and revenue discussions.

Three metrics of particular value to dentists are active patient management, evaluating patients gained or lost, and the reactivation of patients to growth revenues.

Impact of Active Patient Management

An active patient in your dental practice is defined as a patient who has visited your office within the past 18 months.

For example, assume that a practice has 983 active patients as noted by the practice management software. The metrics program can break these out into several different categories:

  • 619 of the patients have a future appointment scheduled and are on track with continuing care and appointments for operative or restorative procedures.
  • 84 patients who have visited the office in the past 6 months are not scheduled for a future appointment, including patients who cancelled their appointments in the past 6 months and have not been rescheduled.
  • 189 patients have not had three or more appointments in the past 18 months. This means these patients are not being scheduled for a future recare appointment after finishing their current appointment.
  • 91 patients are due for future recare but do not have scheduled appointments.

In this scenario, 364 patients are not scheduled for treatment who could be scheduled. See the sidebar for common reasons patients are not scheduled.

Common Reasons Why Patients Are Not Scheduled for Their Next Appointments

  • When patients check out after an appointment, the front office staff members are too busy.
  • Scheduling the next visit at the end of an appointment isnt a priority.
  • There is no room in the schedule for a patients preferred day or time.

While all of these reasons happen, its important to understand and prioritize the impact of future appointment scheduling for dental practices, especially in the midst of processing insurance claims, delinquent accounts, and more. 

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the owner/dentist to make patient scheduling a priority for the front office. By using metrics software (which prints out the names and status of these patients), the practice can see who has been lost in the scheduling shuffle.

If we could reactivate 20% of the patients in our example, 72 patients would be scheduled. We use a statistic called “revenue per active patient” where we take the gross revenues for the practice for the prior 12 months divided by the number of active patients. In this example the “revenue per active patient” is $1,122, which means reactivating 72 of the 364 patients who are not scheduled for future appointments could result in a possible revenue stream of $80,784.

These 364 patients are what you might call “low hanging fruit.” They are patients who for one reason or another just fell through the cracks. Remember that many patients believe that “there really is no need to come in if it does not hurt.” If it is not a priority to the front office, the dental hygienist, or the dentist, why would it be a priority to the patient?

Make continual scheduling of regular dental care a priority in your practice each time a patient leaves the office to boost your top line revenues.

New Patients Gained or Lost

Using data metrics to note what patients were gained or lost at the end of the month is also helpful. Let’s say you start with 29 new patients (not including patients who only came in for emergencies). Next, look at how many patients the dental team has reactivated (patients who have not visited the office in 18 months but who are now coming back into the practice). For this example, we’ll say there are five new patients.

Then we look at patients phased out of the practice. These are patients who were active but who now have passed the 18-month mark of no visit to the practice, so they are inactivated. The software tells us there were 23 patients for the month and these patients have not been formally inactivated. And finally, the front office has formally inactivated eight patients who have either moved, passed away, or are going to a different dentist.

With this information we determine that the net number of new patients at month end is not the 29 new patients, but instead a net gain of four new patients (29+5-23-8=4).

Effect of Reactivated Patients in Revenue Growth

While bringing in new patients is one way to grow revenue, reactivating patients can also be a significant source of income for dental practices. In our example, the average production per active patient is $1,122. If we reactivate 20% of the 23 patients (five patients total), that will bring in more than $5,000 in additional revenue.

If your dental practice were to continue this trend of five reactivated patients each month over a 12-month period, the result would be $61,959 in increased revenue generation.

Finding ways to reactivate patients can significantly impact your practice’s bottom line. After all, patients who fall through the cracks are, unfortunately, common in many dental organizations. Staying in touch will keep your active patient count growing along with your revenues.

From Front Office Magazine. August 2023; 1(8):10-11.

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