How many patients are your staff costing you? (Really?)

Fascinating article / sponsored story / thinly veiled ad I have just read. The opening paragraphs go like this….

How much money is your staff costing you every month by the way they handle new patient inquiries? Market research indicates that 67% of new patient calls result in NO revenue because the patients never cross the threshold of your office.

If your typical case size is in the $5,000 range, just one lost case per day could cost you $1,255,000 a year. Even at just $1,000 a case you are potentially losing over $250,000 every year.

Many, many, many years ago when I was in the retail cosmetics world, before cosmetic medicine was born in fact, I was responsible for a large team of the industry’s best beauty consultants who sold lipstick and scent. Tough universe the competitive fragrance and cosmetic category, both for retailers and for wholesalers. Competitive brands, high cost of sales, very little to distinguish one brand technically from another; it was all in the image.

One small thing that I favoured as a very useful starting point when visiting my many cosmetic counters was to take the manager and stand in front of the counter and critique the area like a consumer would. The other go-to measurement was the ‘mystery shopper’. One of my favourite tactical basics which I have often used to ‘take the temperature’ of a businesses. It’s objective and external which means it’s more valuable in some respects than a manager’s opinion. And can be replicated to track performance.

So often we become comfortable with our own environments, we forget what we look like to the world; to consumers or patients who come into contact with our business for the first time.


Rather than engage a researcher, ask an educated friend [of a friend] to call your practice and report on the experience they had. Critical that you set out the key point of interest that you want to test; a questionnaire. Also critical that no-one know when they are calling / visiting or who they are.

Here’s a sample I prepared earlier…..

Phone contact and booking:

  1. What kind of welcome did you receive when you called? 1(poor)  – 10 (excellent) Any comments?
  2. How easy was the appointment booking process?
  3. Did you receive all the necessary information you required to get to your appointment?

Arriving at the practice:

  1. How long did it take for you to be welcomed by the reception staff? 1(poor)  – 10 (excellent) Any comments?
  2. Did they recognize and use your name when you arrived?
  3. Did you feel they were prepared for you?
  4. How long did you wait before your consultation?

This questionnaire could cover the entire patient experience – or just a piece. Whatever you prefer.

One last thing…when you share the results with your team, and you should, ensure they are clear this is about ongoing improvement. And repeat the process again in a few months to map the progress.