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Everything Dental Blog – September 2012 Issue

Substance versus Sound Bites – Who do you believe?

For the next two months we will be bombarded with a great deal of political noise. The democrats and republicans will unleash millions of dollars in negative advertisements to tear down the other candidate. Clearly, the two major parties are miles apart on the key issues and the electorate is much divided.
Regardless of your party affiliation or tendency to vote along party lines, this election requires some vetting. As voters, we must focus on the issues that directly affect our families, Job creation, retirement benefits, standard of living and the financial burden we will leave for our children.
Unemployment, immigration, education, tax reform, the Middle East, Americas competitiveness and entitlements (Medicare/Social Security) are the hot topics. In my opinion, debt reduction, job creation, and social policy are the issues that will actually determine the presidency and will clarify public opinion (the majority viewpoint) on these issues. It is our responsibility to know the issues and the candidates before we cast our vote this November.

How will the election affect the dental industry?

For us in the dental community, the future is unknown. We have no idea how the dental landscape will look with either presidential candidate or in the future. The rhetoric is tough and the promises can be encouraging but we can’t predict the future. Or can we?
One thing is certain; The Affordable Healthcare Act will add 30+ million people to the insurance ranks. Many believe that the bulk of those affected will be children and families in poverty, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. Others believe that these newly insured will generally have limited coverage or no dental coverage at all.

Insurance Benefits are worth their weight in gold?

Insurance benefits are front and center for all businesses today. Healthcare costs continue to rise and are a big piece of the benefit/compensation package for employers. Additionally, healthcare benefits require significant resources for enrollment and administration. I suspect we will see many changes in the way employers balance benefits (healthcare and retirement contributions) and wages over the next decade.
It will also be interesting to see how the next generations of workers embrace healthcare and retirement benefits versus salaries alone. Given the option, would they prefer higher wages or a combination of wages and benefits? Will companies have a menu of wages and benefits for their employees?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011 cost an average of $446 per month for single-person coverage. Of that, employees paid $78 on average and employers picked up the rest. Of course, Insurance costs run the gamut as do the type of coverage one receives. Many people with good medical benefits do not have dental or optical coverage and vice versa. It is anyone’s guess how Obama Care will impact how insurance is delivered or how it will impact the dental community.

Change May be Slow But It Can be Measured

One must look at our industry with a wide angle lens. Take a broad perspective and you will identify trends and movements that allow us to make educated decisions about our business and the future.

20 years ago every dentist I met wanted to build a fee for service practice. 10 years ago, they wanted a fee for service practice with a touch of the better paying PPO’s –The Hybrid model. Today, most dental start ups participate in some form of insurance and many veteran dentists are softening their position on PPO’s.

Most of the FFS dental offices that I am intimate with provide insurance administration for their patients as a courtesy. Furthermore, most FFS offices determine their fee schedule after evaluating the fees from the 80th and 90th percentile from fee service providers like NDAS (National Dental Advisory Service).

The fee for service dental model is still the most desired practice model. However, what is fee for service? If I am a PPO and the patient pays the difference to cover my fees, can I call myself fee for service? What do you think?

Not every dentist has the clinical, organizational and operation skills to be a successful dental entrepreneur. Compound those necessary characteristics with the need for leadership and the need for a motivated dental team before you can assess how hard it is to build a practice. Once you understand the great difficulty in running and building the business, you now have to deal with compliance and human resource functions like; payroll, taxes, practice and employee insurance/benefits, Osha/Hippa and maintaining your professional license requirements. I would be remiss, if I did not state the importance of modern dental facility with the correct flow and number of full service operatories!

“You can have all the talent and all the skills you’ll need, but you’ll also need a certain number of ops to deal with current and future dental models. Same day dentistry and walk in prophylaxis services are here and gaining popularity which may require more ops than we require today”.

Great industry luminaries and consulting groups can help dentists with a winning strategy and the tools to develop systems and smart policies for a multitude of practice styles. If you are investigating consultants for your practice or a specific department (hygiene, administrative), please let me know. I will identify the right consultant for you and your vision. I have long standing relationships with many national, regional and local consultants.

The Greater Good

I would like all of my clients and dental friends to have wonderful practices and high paying careers. I believe all healthcare workers are important to society and the greater good.

Along those lines, I believe the oral cavity is the gateway to the body and that dentistry will be more relevant in the future. I am certain that the oral/systemic link will grow dentistry and public opinion towards a preventive dental model. Dentists and their teams (especially hygienists) see their patients more than their medical counter parts and are more likely to have an impact on their lives and healthcare decisions. These inter personal relationships, which lead to trust and influence, will improve the care our patients and the general public receive.

It doesn’t matter what others are doing or who the next president will be. What are you doing to grow your business and provide for your family now?

Regardless of your practices orientation, you should embrace practice management efficiency and work with your team on execution. So much dentistry is left undiagnosed and never presented. Train your team to understand and explain clinical procedures, treatment plans and financial solutions to your patients. This will lead to an increase in case acceptance and will free up valuable time for the dentist.

Know your numbers. Run the key business reports regularly and work with your team to improve your business and execution. If you do not know which reports to run (are critical for analysis) – call me.

Work on your insurance eligibility, coding and administrative processes. Too much time and money is spent on these necessary but costly tasks. Investigate Dental Practice Pro. @ dentalpracticepro.com/createAccountForm.php?AgentID=6 (right click and open hyperlink) and learn more about their comprehensive eligibility services.

Be sure to pick up the bestselling book – “Coding with Confidence – 2013” by Dr. Charles Blair. There are 84 changes with 35 new codes, 37 revised codes, and 12 deleted codes for CDT 2013. Also, Practicebooster.com is available (It’s the book in expanded, electronic format) which includes a CDT forum, phone support, newsletter… These two tools can make a big difference in your eligibility and billing processes!

Get moving on these two things now:
• Schedule all hygiene patients who have been seen this year and are entitled to a second preventive appointment before year end.

• Get all pre determinations processed now and make sure all approved dentistry is scheduled for completion before the end of the year.


Doctors are required to obtain continuing education because it keeps them current and improves their skill set. Many believe it is a critical component of professionalism to maintain your competence and have some form of assessment.

Office personnel and auxiliaries on the other hand, generally get their job training and experience on the job. Most office personnel have never been formally trained or exposed to the best operational systems and strategies of the day. Historically, these qualified people (who run your business) are only as good as their teammates and their predecessors who trained them.

The American Association of Dental Office Managers is one of the best organizations in dentistry today. If you want your office to operate efficiently and you want your administrative personnel to learn new skills, then encourage them to join AADOM! For some clients, an AADOM membership for your office manager may be the best gift you can give yourself. AADOM provides education on many facets of the business from some of the industry’s most talented educators. I am a strong believer in this organization and can connect you with a member of their organization if you have any questions.

“AADOM is dedicated to providing leading edge education from internationally recognized industry leaders and companies. We encourage and empower members to pursue professional development through continuing education and fellowship (FAADOM), and to share knowledge to improve performance in all aspects of running a successful dental practice including Human Resources, Accounts Receivable, Scheduling, Marketing and Social Media. Through AADOM, office managers and practice administrators learn how to get the information and skills they need to ensure they are adopting the best practices that result in the highest level of efficiency and productivity for your practice.” Heather Colicchio – Founder and President

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One comment

  1. great blog! it’s very informative. Hope to see post also about Washington DC Endodontists. Thanks