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April 13, 2018 6 minutes To Read

Have you ever had a prospective patient not turn into a new patient? Chances are, the answer is “yes.” And while this situation isn’t ideal 100% of the time, all is not lost if we can at least learn from the leads who don’t end up converting to new patients.

Based on our dental industry expertise and experience in tracking dental KPIs, below are the top 8 common reasons why patients do not make an appointment after learning about your practice.

1. Missed calls. For many dental practices, call volume is the number one reason a practice misses gaining a new patient. Because we live in an era where people want instant gratification, if you’re taking longer than a day to return a phone call, you might as well not call a patient back.


Invest in a software that helps you understand how many calls are being missed, and if and when the call is returned. For example, the Practice By Numbers Phone IQ dashboard helps dental practices identify when calls are missed, and if the call was returned.

If, through the dental software, you identify that your practice is missing numerous calls during regular business hours, you may use this information to make an informed decision about next steps – such as adding extra staff or assigning someone to take calls after-hours.

2. Ideal appointment times aren’t available. Okay, you can’t win them all. Right? That is correct, however, you should never miss the opportunity to make a great impression with a potential new patient. Even if your “good” appointment time slots are booked, patients will find a way to adjust their schedule to fit yours if they feel the service they will get from your dental practice is superior.


Train your front office staff how to talk to potential new patients on the phone if they express annoyance on how busy your schedule is. If you find that a lot of patients are looking for later appointment times that are consistently unavailable, you may also consider starting later and extending your hours a couple days per month to improve overall patient satisfaction and ensure you don’t miss out on new patient opportunities.

3. Calls are dropped. With the use of cell phones, this happens all the time. We’ve all experienced dropped calls in personal and professional settings, and we all know that this situation isn’t ideal and could easily drive a prospective new patient away from your practice, if it isn’t handled correctly.


Early in the call, ask the caller for key information including their name, call-back number, and email address (make sure to write this information down on the phone!). This way, if the call does drop, your staff can instantly provide great customer service and immediately call them back to keep the conversation going!

4. Patients hang up on hold. Like we mentioned earlier, patients have a very short attention span and people today are constantly on-the-go. If patients hang up after being placed on hold, it is likely because their wait times are too long.


While being placed on hold from time-to-time is inevitable, the key is to set expectations with patients upfront. Explain to callers that you’re experiencing a lot more calls today, and you can either put them on hold for __ minutes or call them back later. If you do choose to put patients on hold, be sure that your on-hold music/message is pleasant and professional.

5. Medicaid acceptance. While most dental practices do not participate with Medicaid, it is still important to make a good impression on the patient and understand what services they are seeking.


Create a list of dental practices that accept Medicaid nearby, and share this information with the caller. By adding value and providing great service, you’ll be sure to win more referrals and leave a great first impression of your dental practice. Remember, they may not be on Medicaid forever and they may have friends, family and coworkers that are looking for a new dental home.

6. You’re out of network. Many insurance policies offer similar benefits both in and outside of network. Learn which plans work well in your office and let callers know that you have many patients with their insurance that are very happy in your practice. If there is a sudden jump in the number of leads (potential patients) lost because your practice is out-of-network, you may want to investigate which employers are offering these benefits so you can evaluate further.


Ask patients what type of services they are interested in to see if the services they want are covered by their insurance.

7. Prospective patients are simply “shopping around” and not ready to commit to one dentist. When prospective patients are shopping around and call your dental practice, it is very important to provide the best patient experience possible so they remember your practice and have a great first impression.


Thoroughly answer every question that the prospective patient has about your practice. Bonus if you’re able to get their email address and send a follow-up email thanking them for the call and explaining next steps, encouraging them to contact your practice to set an appointment.

Don’t be afraid to also ask the prospective patient how they heard about your office. If it’s a referral from an existing patient, be sure to reach out to your existing patient to express gratitude for their kind referral.

8. Uncategorized patients. Very few lost leads should fall into this category, but sometimes an explanation simply isn’t able to be given.


Regardless of the reason, make sure your staff is recording the reasons why prospective patients don’t choose your practice so you can take this feedback and use it to make informed enhancements to your dental practice.

Every good dentist will lose to competitors from time to time, but the key to success is tracking the reasons why your practice may be losing potential new patients and make adjustments accordingly. With the Practice By Numbers Market IQ software, you can track all of your leads and take action to convert them into your new patients.

To learn more about using smart tools like Market IQ to maximize your marketing return on investment and grow your practice, call (866) 216-8416.

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