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The Jack Abrams Report: May, 2011

What’s on the horizon?

Below are several statements that speak to current industry trends and movements. The manufacturers and distributors are very aware of these trends and are planning accordingly. Most dentists are already evaluating and prioritizing these trends to see what will work with or align with their current business philosophy.

What are your priorities?

  • Expansion of or movement towards multi-specialty or expanded dental services.
  • Electronic Claims – As more offices get involved with electronic claim submission, there will be an emphasis on execution and efficiency. Full service providers like E-services will gain market share because they eliminate most phone calls to insurance companies.
  • Healthcare providers continue to embrace Social Media as a way to grow their relevance and acquire new patients. Social networking is being used in conjunction with other marketing and advertising efforts.
  • Third party financing like Citi Health™ and Care credit™ will grow in popularity and utilization. As dentists routinely treatment plan Implants, Invisalign™ and other expensive procedures, providing simple financial solutions will be critical to case acceptance.
  • Laser adoption and usage continues to be a significant industry trend. Expect hard tissue Lasers and combo units to gain momentum!
  • Focus on efficiency – The need for speed has become a major criterion when dentists evaluate practice management tools and restorative materials. Manufacturers are trying to simplify materials and reduce steps towards that end. Expect dentists and hygienists to utilize that spare operatory and swing room to maximize time and improve production!
  • Assisted Cancer screening devices like the Velscope are quickly becoming standard of care in the dental community. The distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in a distinctive pattern, and patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease become apparent to the clinician for investigation.
  • We are in the midst of a radiology renaissance. The general dentist with a film based Panoramic X-ray unit is upgrading to a digital unit and the old Pan is being sold to offices that do not currently have a Panoramic X-ray unit or they are being donated or scrapped. The multi specialty offices that have a digital Pan are considering Cone Beam and the specialist, especially Oral Surgeons, Periodontists and Orthodontists, have or will have Cone Beam in the near future.
  • Saliva testing – HPV and Perio are the most common OralDNA tests today. More comprehensive tests identifying biological markers are expected to clear the FDA in the future. Expect screening and testing to be integral procedures in the prevention dental appointment!
  • Implants in the house! More offices will treatment plan and place implants in their facilities this year than ever before! There are many educational programs available for those dentists interested in placing and restoring dental implants. Some of these courses are available in our area and scholarships may be available. *Specialists continue to explore working in larger, referring or high volume practices as a way to expand their relevance, business and income. This trend is visible in urban communities but is working its way into the suburbs and rural areas.
  • The general dentist’s relationship with the neighborhood specialist has evolved but is as important as ever. While many offices strive to incorporate some multi-specialty services, many prefer to collaborate with their neighborhood specialist. * The neighborhood specialists tend to incorporate the latest technology and have years of expertise and experience. Even those offices embracing a multi-specialty philosophy will require a cooperative relationship with their local specialist for complicated cases and to reduce liability.
  • Expansion of Clear braces and limited orthodonture services continues to be a growth area for GP’s.
  • Sedation dentistry has grown in popularity and there is a big demand for it. Dentists will either, perform, outsource (in house), or refer these services in the future.
  • Integration of automated marketing and communications software. Most offices will employ programs like DemandForce to retain and attract patients. They will also use DemandForce to manage their online reputation and penetrate social media communities!
  • Expanded Duties – the expanded duties of technicians and nurse practitioners in the medical community has led to an increase in daily patient flow and production numbers. Dental offices that empower expanded duty hygienists and assistants will have similar results!
  • Involvement with cosmetic facial services like Botox™, Restylane™ and collagen fillers. Many dentists will either, perform, outsource (in house), or refer these services.
  • The race to integrate digital impressioning and Cad Cam is center stage and the adoption rate will explode over the next three years! Most dentists are attending events to educate themselves on the different systems and technology now!  There is no downside to integrating Cad Cam; fewer remakes, better fitting restorations and happier patients!
  • Going Paperless is in vogue for all health care providers and aligns with the going GREEN movement. Going paperless means; more efficient patient/record management, easier transmission of data, increased efficiency and is good for the environment!

While these trends/movements are on the radar for many general dentists, not all dentists will integrate these services into their practice. Please let me know if you are considering, working towards or managing the implementation of these items. I have a great deal of experience in these matters and have the resources to help you

When is leading a good thing?

Being a leader has always been considered a positive attribute in our society. In chess, checkers, backgammon and many card games, being first usually gives you an advantage.

Back in 1995 a business man named Bill Gates made a decision to be first even though his product had some bugs. He felt that getting his product to the market first would achieve dominance quickly and then he would patch the problems later. Today, the Windows operating system is believed to have an 80% market share on desktop computers in the world.

Truth be told, most of us are leaders and followers depending upon the circumstance but leadership does have its rewards.

In dentistry – leadership can be challenging because most dentists spend a majority of their time in the treatment rooms. There are many other challenges as well;

  • Regulatory or compliance factors
  • Employee skill set and capacity
  • Fear of failure
  • Taking the road less traveled
  • Working capital $$$
  • The burden of being a pioneer
  • Knowing when to start
  • Knowing how to start

While these challenges may present themselves, leading or getting out first has many rewards!

The dentist or practice that acknowledges trends early on can benefit from implementing these services. They reap the benefits of being seen as cutting edge in their community and it supports their brand for providing world class dentistry. If you provide a service that is not available from neighboring dentists then you will attract new patients! Additionally, some new services can lead to an increase in practice net revenue!

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