Everything Dental Blog – April 2012
I write this month’s report on the heels of a great family holiday. My wife, my son and I just arrived home from Florence, Italy. Our trip planning began over a year ago when my daughter was making plans to study abroad for a semester. We figured we would visit Danielle and celebrate our Silver wedding anniversary at the same time. Unlike family trips of the past, this vacation was not spent on a beach, or on a cruise ship or in a resort park.
The sites and scenes of Florence are breathtaking and the streets are full of energy with thousands of tourists, street vendors and artists. Florence is truly a renaissance city. It is located in the heart of the Italy’s Tuscany region and it has incredible museums and cathedrals. The art work and frescos are divine and tell stories of the era in which they were created.
The streets in the center of Florence are mostly paved with cobble stone and haven’t changed much since the era of the Medici Empire. Sculptures and art work share the streets like pay phones and mailboxes do in most American cities. History is all around you in Florence yet it is clearly a modern and vibrant city.
My trip to Italy was memorable and educational. Italy finds herself in a troubled economy, compounded by an expensive euro and high taxation. Most people find it harder to get ahead and raise a family. Uncertainty and high unemployment is ominous. Fuel costs are incredibly high, at almost $9.00 a gallon, which impacts people and businesses alike. Global competition is threatening an already weakened industrial base and the high Euro discourages exports. While national healthcare provides a significant benefit, it is viewed as an inefficient and outdated system. *Dental coverage is primarily need based and there are long waits (1-3 months) for an appointment. Private care dentistry is considered a major luxury and many Italians travel to neighboring countries for cheaper reconstructive or cosmetic work.
America is a young nation with incredible challenges during a time of unprecedented change. All the extreme politics and economic woes of our time are not just a reality in the U.S.A. but in all countries. Every nation, large and small, has the burden of protecting their borders and citizens while maintaining a healthy economy. This is a huge task when the debt is rising and revenue is shrinking. I am proud to be an American and while I hear all the negative rhetoric and political partisanship, I am confident that we will endure and finish first. After all, Americas business is business!
America is still the land of hope and opportunity. Our diversity and our ability to reinvent ourselves may be our greatest strength!
American Dental Exceptionalism
We are at a pivotal moment in dentistry. The correlation between oral and systemic health is undeniable and continues to expand. In the next few years we will have saliva testing that identifies markers for many diseases undetectable today. Our oral cancer screening devices continue to improve and we are saving lives every day with the use of Velscope and Trimura. Our digitization of x-rays, patient records and business processes has made us more versatile and will lead to more efficient practice management and clinical outcomes. Truth be told, one of the greatest challenges we have is making the public sector aware of dentistry’s new found relevance. The fact that a dentist sees their patient twice a year provides a unique advantage in prevention and diagnosing disease!
Dental facilities that embrace a more medical/dental approach to care will excel in the future while traditional drill, fill and bill practices will need to look for ways to maintain the status quo. Comprehensive dentistry is growing in relevance today and these new protocols and standard of care levels, will benefit everyone.
Today, many general dental practices will have patients from three or even four generations if they serve the pediatric, adult and geriatric communities. These different patient populations require different protocols and standard of care models to provide exceptional care. Developing and implementing these changes requires your due diligence now. Do you have a different protocol when treating a 70 year old (that takes several medications) versus a thirty five year old?
What are you doing to train and guide your team to a more relevant existence?
- Are you embracing diversity in and around your office?
- Do you have staff members that speak other languages?
- What language is most common in your area?
- Do you support this community?
- Do you have a formal marketing program?
- Are you marketing to your target audiences?
- Do you have different marketing efforts for different demographics?
- Do you provide team members with education and career development opportunities?
As a professional business person and parent, I have conversations about effort, outcome and change all the time. Most people believe they can make a significant difference in their lives but are at the mercy of their employer, the economy or external factors. Others feel that they are along for the ride and have little or no influence on their world at all. While I agree that we may not have complete control over our future, I do believe that people who have the will and determination will have greater success than those who sit on the sidelines.