Everything Dental Blog – Industry Trends and Movements

Part 2 of a 2-part series

In last month’s blog I highlighted many movements in the dental community. There were just too many to list on a blog, so I decided to make it a two-part series.

To see part one, please visit Heknowsdental.com.

  • Dental distribution is changing radically. Shrinking margins, healthcare consumerism and the growing popularity of e-commerce are the root cause for most of the chaos. Distributors will continue to dominate the sale of dental materials, pharmaceuticals, technology and traditional operatory equipment but their future lies in virtual and brick and mortar business services. The traditional full-service dental dealer will provide call center services, insurance verification, dental and medical billing, practice management consulting, clinical and business education programs, recruitment and a host of financial services. These services will empower solo practitioners and emerging DSO’s that do not have this infrastructure in place or the capacity to build them on their own.
  • Tele-Dentistry – Technology has made it possible to triage patients using various tele communication and diagnostic devices. This will dramatically change how we treat, engage and market patients in the future. Tele-medicine will change how doctors work and it will shrink the world of healthcare. Patients will be able to get a second opinion and share treatment plans with specialists and competing care givers. Doctors and institutions will market their services and common procedure fees to maximize their marketability and SEO and SEM strategies. Local Dental and medical care givers will always have the advantage of convenience, but transparency in pricing will make healthcare consumerism the norm. Interestingly, the same processes, skills and customer service that make a great practice today, will be in play for the future. Administrative team members with great phone skills will turn a simple phone inquiry into an appointment. When a prospective patient searches the web for a dentist your SEO, SEM, Google reviews and a compelling, interactive website will make all the difference. When your organization delivers comprehensive dentistry with exceptional outcomes, you will attract affluent and educated patients. When dentists and hygienists embrace ‘total health’ and systemic wellbeing, they will treatment plan accordingly. When your curb appeal, office décor, digital footprint and customer service are in alignment with your mission and vision you will thrive in the new landscape. A Caring professional dental team with a strong Google ranking attracts patients! Tele-dentistry may be controversial today but any product or service that enhances communication, improves outcomes and enhances the patients experience is exciting and should be embraced. While Tele-Dentistry comes with new challenges, a well-run, well established, customer centric dental practice will learn to use this technology to their advantage!
  • Buying Groups and Membership plans – We can all thank Amazon™ for introducing us to PRIME™. The allure of affiliation and loyalty benefits has never been so popular. Distributors and manufacturers recognize this phenomenon and are trying to win over customers by bundling services and rewarding patronage. They believe in messaging that promises better service, deeper discounts and business analytics to attract concerned clinicians and practice owners. I just attended Dentsply Sirona World™ and many of the attendees have truly embraced the concept of the ‘Cerec Dentist’. Membership, affiliation and special privileges sounds and feels good to consumers and does add relevance and an affiliated digital footprint for them. Dentistry’s consolidation and the uncertainty of how our industry will look in the future has created the perfect storm for Buying clubs and management companies to market disillusioned care givers. Dentists are concerned about their future. They are looking for answers and help. Most senior dentists are wondering if selling to a DSO or regional group is their only salvation. Buying Groups, Buying Clubs and Management Companies have a powerful message to those dentists. They offer services and purchasing power to dental practices looking for a competitive edge.
  • Clear Aligners – The clear aligner market represents the fastest growing sector in dentistry. In fact, clear aligners represent more growth than all the other new dental products combined this past year. There are dozens of clear aligner marketers including DTC (Direct to Consumer) companies that deliver minor and moderate tooth movement. The claims and proprietary design of these aligners run the gamut. Some systems are more innovative, some boast streamlined digital work flow, others focus on accuracy and others market on price. There is a great deal of litigation between developers, manufacturers and consumers over the design, marketing and effectiveness of these products currently. I am certain that this market will continue to grow so dentists must act appropriately and operate with purpose to get their fair share of this incredible opportunity and market. Make sure to implement internal marketing and a web strategy to secure your piece of this profitable segment. As with all electives, your success is determined by your offices ability to identify opportunity, treatment plan, provide easy financial solutions and sell the patient on the benefits and outcome.