Patient Acquisition Mindset: Common Issues

By: Abe Kasbo

The term “Patient Acquisition” doesn’t resonate well with patients; it’s not what they seek or need.

Patients aren’t commodities or assets to be obtained. They are people, and dental offices are not Wall Street trading terminals.

We shouldn’t view them as mere acquisition targets because that diminishes the entire patient experience, and let’s remember, this noble profession for that matter!

Successful dentists, DSOs, and multisites know their goal is to build relationships with patients, not simply acquire them.

Even if dentists successfully win over a patient or guide them to undergo needed treatment, it doesn’t mean they’ve gained a lifelong patient; it’s simply the first step towards earning their trust, which never really stops in the relationship.

3 Common Issues with the Patient Acquisition Mindset

Here are three issues with the patient acquisition mindset:

1. It Depersonalizes

Every patient—whether a regular client or a new referral—is an individual with unique needs and concerns.

It’s evident that the traditional approach to patient acquisition oversimplifies the complexity of patient relationships, which involve trust, shared values, and mutual benefits.

Prospective patients seek genuine connections and collaborative care. The process of seeking dental care often feels impersonal, transactional, and exhausting.

2. It’s Short-Sighted

The acquisition mindset fosters short-term thinking, leading dental practices to prioritize immediacy, which is not good for business or anyone.

It places the dentist and dental office manager in a position of “hunters” rather than “farmers” who seek to grow their relationships over time.

Short-termism in business is very expensive and messy and fuels workplace dissatisfaction.

3. It Focuses on the Wrong Priorities

Focusing solely on patient acquisition diverts attention from what truly matters as part of your overall business.

It compels dental practitioners to prioritize quantity over quality, leading to an endless cycle of outreach and promotional efforts; a classic case of inefficient marketing… leading to dissatisfaction… leading to more hunting…see the vicious and maddening circle?

What Should Your Primary Focus Be?

Instead, the primary focus should be on delivering exceptional dental care that patients value and appreciate, so they can tell other patients on and offline.

“Remember about 70% of new patients come from existing ones.”

Strive to be so excellent and deliver exceptional experiences at every touch so that patients cannot overlook you.

So, What Should You Do?

How can dental practices become unignorably good? It starts with a commitment to a strong brand strategy:

  • Conduct a 360 marketing audit of your practice as part of a 12-month strategic marketing plan. Not just your website & social analytics. I mean every patient touch & opportunity.
  • Define your practice’s mission and values (brand).
  • Position your practice uniquely in the market (brand).
  • Develop a strategic plan to achieve your goals (brand).
  • Define services of focus in order to align your brand with the messaging & marketing plan
  • Build a steady cadence of where your audience will see and connect with your message

Even if you don’t invest heavily in marketing, your plan and brand should guide all aspects of your practice because that’s how dental practices build strong brand equity.

In Summary

By focusing on delivering exceptional care and building meaningful patient relationships, dental practices can achieve long-term success.

It’s not about acquiring patients—it’s about nurturing relationships with individuals who trust and value your expertise and team.

Two more things:

  1. Let’s shift our perspective from patient acquisition to patient relationship building, because patients are people, not targets.
  2. Let’s stop the short-sighted trade-station mentality.

While we talk about this very issue frequently with our clients and share this message at conferences and meetings, this particular post was inspired by a piece on LinkedIn targeted to the not-for-profit sector. So many crossovers in different markets that we can learn from, and should.

Abe Kasbo

Abe Kasbo

Abe Kasbo is Founder and CEO of Verasoni, a marketing communications advisory, consultancy, and agency. The firm has been serving the dental space since 2005 and partners with DSOs, multisite owners and independent dentists as well as recognized brands, distributors, manufacturers and professional services providers on all facets of strategic marketing communications. Abe is immediate past Chair and current board member of the Advisory Board for The Center of Innovation & Entrepreneurial Studies at Seton Hall University.