Category: Author: David Hall
It was March 17 when the American Dental Association recommended that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, dental practices limit themselves to emergency treatment only. That had a profound impact on our clients across the country, some of whom temporarily closed their practices. It also had a psychological impact on patients. This data is a measure of that psychological impact. Almost immediately, the number of appointment requests being received from patients dropped to 30-35% of normal, hitting a low point the week of April 3-9. For two weeks after that, appointment requests inched up to 45-50% of normal. Then, near the last week in April, many states began announcing that dental practices would be allowed to resume normal patient schedules and patients responded by requesting appointments at a rate of 78% of normal for the week of April 24-30.
Last week there was another significant increase in appointment requests to 98% of normal. Here is the graph:
As a reference, we are using data we accumulated for the year 2019 on appointment requests received by our clients. We are taking that as a baseline, which means that the past week’s appointment requests are 98% of that 2019 average. And as a further clarification of this data, the dates are the dates when patients requested appointments, not the dates the appointments actually occurred. They filled out a form on the client’s website, asking for an appointment. In some cases they were then directed to an online appointment scheduling program. In most cases, they were just asking the dental office to call them to set up a specific appointment time.
Also, note that this is data from our client base, which is not a random cross-section of dental practices. While we service clients across the country and have a variety of clients from multi-location, multi-dentist practices to solo practitioners and include dentists providing basic bread-and-butter care as well as high-end dentists and some specialists, our company tends to attract high-end dentists with fees substantially higher than others in their communities. We’re not claiming that this data gives accurate numbers for all dental practices. But it does give an accurate reflection of the feelings of patients. We feel that it firmly establishes that patients are returning to wanting regular, normal dental care. A comprehensive survey of a representative sample of dental practices might come up with a different percentage, but we’re confident it would confirm the trend we are showing with our data.
We’ll continue to follow this data.