Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Looking Ahead—Dentistry 2020! Patient Expectations


In 1964 Bob Dylan wrote the song “The times they are a changing” and they were. They still are, just at a much faster pace and in a lot of different directions. One thing is for certain, change will happen and survival is adapting to the change.

I grew up in the dental industry. My grandfather opened the first dental supply company in New York City. That was around 1912. Back then they filled teeth with gold and amalgam. Dentists would mull the silver and mercury in the palm of their hand. Looking back over the years the changes have been good. Survival in the business of dentistry was easy. You didn’t have to be that smart to make money. Today the world is much different and dentistry is advancing as is the patient’s expectations.

Patient Expectations … Nobody likes going to the dentists and today’s average patient expects personalized treatment that is fast and painless. The faster you get a patient out of the chair, the better dentist you are in the patient’s eyes. Recently there have been commercials on TV advertising dental groups. The adds feature 3D imaging and same day dentistry. The adds are targeted at all demographics, Baby Boomers, Millennial, and Gen Z. Your future success in dentistry will be directly effected by a patient demo-graphic and Gen Z is turning 25 years old this year. Question: Who is you patient base over the next 10 years? Communication with your base will require an investment in technology.

Technology amazes the masses … 50 years ago the world stood still when we walked on the Moon. Today we pay little attention to the men orbiting the earth in the international space station. We expect technology to help get us through everyday so what is the wow factor when visiting the dentist? Let’s start with the reception area and a big flat screen monitor.

Reception … Video is a must. The big screen on the wall will allow you to compete with the cell phone and magazines. That monitor should be showing a dental theme featuring cosmetics and facial design. Advertise your services to promote other technologies the patient will see in the clinical setting. Now add a cell phone charging station and free WiFi (note: make sure that the WiFi is completely independent form your office based network) and your patient will feel comfortable.. Your patient check-in should be utilizing a tablet or iPad that directly updates your records. People don’t write on paper anymore. All of this happens before the clinical experience.

The Clinical Experience … Break your patient’s visit into thirds. MLB Hall of Fame Manager, Tommy Lasorda, once said that during a season you will win at least one third of your games and you will lose one third of your games, it’s the middle third that makes or breaks. The clinical experience is the middle third. Sitting in a dental chair is a very uncom-fortable situation. Dental procedures are traumatic events for patients. Communication is the most important thing, but not just with words. You need pictures!! Digital imaging is essential for patient communication and treatment planning. 3D imaging, intraoral cameras and impression scanners are tools designed to help diagnosis and explain your treatment plan. Technology is what the quality patient is expecting.

Quality Patients … The most important fuel for your dental practice is a quality patient base. Quality is defined as compliance in maintaining their oral health and routine office visits. Insurance based patients are usually more compliant but now there is a the low reimbursement rate that you need to be manage correctly to maximize the ROI (individual patient value). Question: Why should a patient come to your office instead of going down the street? Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

August 25, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment