Anticipating Patient Desires – The Future Of Your Dental Practice

Every dentist desiring growth should be analyzing relevant data in order to make sound business decisions that will facilitate practice growth and sustainability. We all know that, in business, change is constant, and for dental practices to maintain growth, they themselves must change.

Relevant data collection for dental practices includes metrics such as income levels, population levels, growth prospects (ie: availability for people to move into the area), and competition levels.

Data collection can help the dentist determine the optimal allocation of marketing resources – whether to a certain type of service (cosmetic for example) or to a population demographic that presents growth opportunities.

Data, and the information and insights gleaned from it, have popularly been used to qualify an idea for practice growth and enable an assessment of its “viability” to determine chances of success.

We see data and the insights derived from it playing an increasing role in facilitating dental practice growth over what Albert V. Bruno describes as a corporation’s four-stage marketing development process.   This can easily apply to dental practices as they evolve through their growth phases. As the corporation moves along in that marketing process, the effort of anticipating consumer needs remains constant, but the collection of and insights derived from data become increasingly important catalysts for recognizing those needs and desires. Bruno, a professor or marketing at the University of Santa Clara’s School of Business in Santa Clara, California, and his associates Tyzoon T. Tyebjee and Shelby H. McIntyre identify these four stages as follows:


Stage 1: Entrepreneurial Marketing

Stage 2: Opportunistic Marketing

Stage 3: Responsive Marketing

Stage 4: Diversified Marketing


At stage 1 of the development of the practice, dentists engage primarily in personal marketing, trying to differentiate themselves and their offices from their competitors. Differentiation has as much to do with providing a unique and pleasant experience for patients as much as it has to do with the services provided.

As the dental practice moves from Stage 1 all the way to stage 4 in it’s marketing development, the focus on the dentist and his/her staff should evolve from determining how best to anticipate future needs of the patient (stage 2 and 3), to ultimately incorporating latest techniques and practices at the office.

Just as important, however, is that the collection and usage of data becomes ever-increasingly more vital to dental practice growth and anticipating patient needs, desires and spending behaviours. Clean, accurate data can facilitate wise and strategic moves so important in practice growth.

A general example of data collection to drive strategic moves is Amazon. They’ve taken their massive consumer data bank, with the plethora of data points collected via online purchases, and produced in-house algorithms to predict a consumers’ purchase and ship it to a nearby-located depot awaiting pick-up before the consumer actually buys it. The company gained a patent for what it describes as “anticipatory shipping”, and believes that it can cut delivery times and discourage consumers from shopping at physical stores.

This is but one example of a company using data to drive growth; something, which, among many dental practices, is a vastly underutilized exercise. What opportunities for growth do you think could be uncovered if data collected and analyzed from your local market, patients, and demographics were used to determine your dental practice growth strategy?


Nicholas Kilpatrick is a partner at the accounting firm of Burgess Kilpatrick in Vancouver, B.C. He specializes in dental practices, from optimizing performance to practice development. Check us out at: Burgess Kilpatrick




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