Keeping your practice busy depends not only on being a good practitioner and delivering beautiful results, but also on patients being satisfied with the care and service they receive. Patients will rate you on their entire experience in the practice.

Cosmetic patients who leave fall into two general categories: those who come once and never return, and those who just stop coming abruptly after a relationship has been established. In some cases, the reasons a patient does not return are unclear and may have little to do with your performance. They may leave you for practical reasons, like switching to a clinic closer to home or work, going through a job loss or change that necessitates cutting back, or they may find cheaper cosmetic services somewhere else.

Understanding why patients leave is the first step in learning how to prevent attrition. Aside from the obvious, such as waiting times, bedside manner, overcharging, appointment snafus and sloppy front desk treatment, there are more subtle reasons patients jump ship that you may be overlooking.

Patients may also leave without any notice or explanation. Unless they miss follow-up appointments or do not reschedule for their next filler or IPL treatment, you may not even realize that they have left you. Occasionally a patient will simply vanish for a few years and then reappear when they move back to the area, get a new job or are finished raising a family. They may also come back to you because they couldn’t find anyone they liked better.

Cosmetic patients have a lot of choices today, and they won’t keep coming back to a doctor who doesn’t listen to them, treat them with respect, or pay attention to their needs. In actual fact, they don’t have to. The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust and mutual respect.

Showing some empathy can go a long way in fostering a bond with patients. Pay careful attention to the kind of feedback you get from patients. Are they happy to see you? Do they refer their friends and family to the practice? Are you getting mostly 4 and 5 star reviews? If so, your communication skills may be just where they should be and patients are connecting to you personally. If not, it could be a warning side that your bedside manner is in need of a refresh.