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Everything Dental Blog – September 2015

HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?

How do you learn, stay current and get inspired?

There is a lack of critical business information and training for the small business owner. This isn’t a new phenomenon but it is arguably a bigger problem than most people realize. Years ago, when the world was not connected by technology and change was slower, failure to conform was much more forgiving. In today’s fast paced world, what was once viewed as wholesome may be seen as backward or behind by today’s consumer.

For decades, dental organizations have been the primary voice for delivering critical clinical and regulatory information to dentists. Over the years their messaging has helped thousands of dentists run their business and stay current. Today, these same organizations provide a litany of services but their impact and membership has diminished. The decline in organized dentistry is disheartening. It has weakened the dental political lobby and has created a void in the marketplace.

Progressive dentists (whether wet handed or not), must focus on operations as well as clinical care. The business is complex and requires due diligence and management oversight. Most dentists need practice management, operational and marketing education which, depending on State Dental Association by-laws, may or may not earn continuing education credit. In those states that do not permit CE credits for practice management and business topics, many local dental societies have opted out of providing such education. This has paved the way for various organizations to enter the dental education arena. When you factor in the industry’s consolidation, the influx of PPO’s and the growth of group dentistry, a dental MBA or business training seems like a practical idea.

As I travel around the country and speak with dental professionals it is clear that geography, insurance participation and who you get your information from truly does matter. Location can be an asset or obstacle. Insurance participation and socio economic variables can impact profits which affects the entire dental economy. And where you get your information, inspiration and facts from, may have the greatest impact on your personal and professional success and emotional health.

Who you listen to Matters

Dental educators and key opinion leaders impact dental public opinion positively or negatively much like consumer confidence affects our economy. I recently read a doom and gloom article from a KOL affiliated with a large dental organization. In their apocalyptic assessment of the dental economy, they neglected to mention the impact of technology and how the systemic link is bringing much deserved relevance to the field of dentistry.

FACT – The preventive dental business model with an array of electives, compounded by traditional crown and bridge work is still a remarkable small business. I am not delusional. I recognize the diminishing returns and laborious regulatory issues dentists must deal with today but there is an incredible upside. Here are some contributing factors that will make dentistry more relevant and profitable in the future:

  • Dentists are opening up that second office because they have the know-how and resources to enhance their exit strategy
  • The Total Health dental model is embraced by the millennials. The Preventive dental model is in alignment with the medical community
  • The Systemic link has traction with the millenials and the health care community
  • Cosmetic dentistry is mainstream, affordable and in high demand
  • General dentists are embracing Same Day Dentistry. This will lead to accelerated CadCam and immediate implant acceptance amongst GP’s
  • Implant dentistry and the digital workflow has made Same Day Dentistry easy to implement
  • MSO and DSO engagement and activity is very strong across the USA suggesting that dentistry is still quite lucrative
  • A more health conscious populous and better access to dental care will grow the dental pie and fuel demand for elective and cosmetic services
  • CadCam Dentistry is in alignment with what consumers want and expect
  • Laser dentistry is impacting the delivery of treatment and improving the patient experience for many operative procedures.
  • Modern materials continue to improve the speed, efficiency and quality of clinical dentistry
  • Expanded duties and auxiliary certification programs will change the delivery and profitability of certain dental services. This varies according to State Dental Association guidelines
  • Saliva testing will make dentistry more relevant and will accelerate collaboration with the medical community. Saliva testing (the lab on a stick) will provide an alternative to blood tests in some instances. Saliva tests will identify genetic markers for Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases in the future
  • Sleep Apnea and Sleep medicine requires collaboration between dentists and medical doctors. This area of patient care is growing exponentially

Dentistry is going through unprecedented change. Nationally, the industry is consolidating at the manufacturing, distribution and caregiver level. Every office should examine and reexamine their organization and business plan. This will improve performance and lead to a better exit strategy.

Most dental offices would do well to join organizations that provide business, clinical and operational education. The majority of dental practices fail to establish an organizational structure which puts insurmountable pressure on the owner dentist and key business staff. The complexity of the non-clinical activity (patient appointment, insurance verification, accounts payable, accounts receivable, compliance issues, licensing, payroll, cash flow etc…) is far too laborious these days for anyone person to manage with accountability.

Many owner dentists prefer delegating the operational aspects of the practice to a few key employees. While this has worked for decades, today those same miracle workers can no longer manage the work load. The help they need can be provided by practice management consultants who offer operational expertise and by outsourcing some processes to free up valuable time to attack the revenue side of the business.

80% of dental practices, including groups, that work with a qualified practice management consultant will experience between a 20 and 40% increase in their gross collections year one. Many successful practices contract consultants or coaches to work on specific areas of the business to achieve greater efficiency, enhanced execution and better profitability.

 

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