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a blog by Chris Barrow

How many of your patients are in the PTCU abyss?

A guest post by Lisa Bainham

I"ve just come across a post on Facebook that really made me think.

“realising all the stuff in your room used to be money, and all that money used to be time, and all that time used to be energy”

Look around our practices, at the equipment, at the décor, at the team, and even the tooth whitening lamp (those who know, know!) that doubles up as a clothes horse in many practices. (I've seen at least 5 on my travels) …how much has all of this cost and continues to cost us?

What has been or is our return on investment? If we begin to put a monetary figure on it, it becomes pretty steep and quite frankly hard to look at sometimes, and that’s not even considering our time and energy.

All of the above is necessary to provide care for your patients and ideally, we then recoup and at least see some return on investment, but what happens when we have all the above and then the patient doesn’t go ahead with a proposed treatment plan?

Nothing! You may as well have not invested in your practice, or team training or quite frankly bothered seeing the patient in the first place.

For those that know me, I am constantly bleating on about “the patient journey” and I don’t just mean great customer service and great clinical dentistry, I mean the patient journey from the clinician's viewpoint.

I see so many practices that don’t have an efficient way to measure and monitor treatment conversions, is a clinician presenting options to patients in a way that allows them to have informed and confident consent to treatment?

Do they even know how many patients cancel their appointments and have a PTCU pop up on their notes?....never to be seen again!

How much of your well invested and earned money, and time and energy is floating around in the PTCU abyss. You may be staggered by the figures.

My advice is some reports or set some up so you can monitor this monthly.

Ask yourself these questions, in fact don’t ask, as the response I usually get is, “yeah most of our patients go ahead with treatment."

FACT FIND don’t guess!

  • How many treatment plans have been generated per clinician?

  • How many of those received a treatment plan within a week (maybe 2 if complex etc)?

  • How many accepted treatment?

  • How many completed the treatment?

  • How many did not book in? And what £ was that?

  • What is each performers monthly conversion percentage?

  • If you have some that are lower than others, find out why?

My opinion and experience is that a great patient journey delivered correctly should yield around an 80-95 % conversion success rate consistently, and if it doesn’t, something isn’t right, or it could be that they are in the PTCU abyss with concerns or questions that we haven’t bothered to address for them.

So, apart from the above questions that we can ask ourselves and gather real reasons for, what can we do?

Make contact, learn from it and improve.

A contact letter/email or call to look at what I refer to as Patient Reactivations may give you a chance to address the concerns, or objections. Yes they may have gone elsewhere but at least we will know why.

Reach out, reassure them that you care and want to find a solution for them, whether its anxiety, affordability or just confusion over their treatment plan, or just wish them well with the opportunity to return to you if they need you in the future.

Anything is better that the PTCU abyss.

Value the money, time and energy you have used to get that patient in the chair and don’t let it become a non return on that investment.

For more information go to

Or If you would like to know more about how I support and mentor Practice Managers, throughout the UK, you can contact me on 07964867286 or find out more at

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