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THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY

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Time passes quickly and I can’t believe it’s 2020. Dentistry has changed dramatically in the last five years. Who would have thought that corporate dentistry would take hold so quickly? In 2014 it was growing at 9% a year, and now it represents 70% of all the dental practices in the U.S. I have to admit that I remember reading about how we ought to be more proactive about stepping up and taking an active, more concentrated effort to thwart the threat of insurance companies and national corporate dentistry, not to mention the ever present “Obamacare” debacle. I guess most of us just felt this, like so many other things in life, was just a fad, and things would soon return to where they used to be. So the majority of the Dental community did nothing. Sure, my cancellations and no-shows increased and my new patients were slipping in 2014, but there are always ups and downs in any business. It was the slow overhead creep that finally did me in. By the time I decided to sell my practice to a fast growing profitable corporate group, I was informed that they no longer purchased existing practices and were just opening their own. I guess it makes sense, why would they want a marginal practice when competing with the average dentist was so easy and profitable? The final straw was when I received a letter from Met Life terminating our participation in their managed care plan. I hadn’t done anything wrong, never had a malpractice complaint, or even a dental board investigation. They just dropped me without cause and I just learned from my attorney that there is no recourse. I never thought that I would be the “average dentist” when I graduated from dental school, but here I am with the rest of the dentists who failed to act when they had that choice. It seems that if I stay in dentistry (and at my age, what other choices do I have) I will be paid 15% of my collections until I retire or they decide that a younger, less expensive alternative is the way to go.

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Welcome to the most predictable scenario for Dentistry when “the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” becomes a reality in the near future. What are you going to do?

Three months ago, we began a journey with an article entitled: I’M MAD AS HELL (and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore). The case was made that we, as individual and small group dentists, have found ourselves in a gunfight carrying just a stick. We can’t compete with national dental corporations with their unfair advantage. Insurance companies are whittling away at our margins, and supply companies are increasing our costs with no apparent increase in their value-added relationship. The article closed with a suggestion that we have to figure out a way to be able to buy supplies, equipment, legal services, CPA’s, insurance aggregators, the best marketing, practice management protocols, insurance for our offices and personal use, and a few dozen other things to even begin to turn the tables. It was just a wish and a shopping list.

Well, hundreds of you responded with the call to action and said you were in. I guess it motivated me to find a way to do just that. It will be called BEST for Dentistry. The website (www.bestfordentistry.com) is coming by the end of January, and surprise, surprise, the vendors are lining up. But it will be more than discounted buying. My hope is to change the culture and expectations in dentistry to a very predictive, consistent, results based business for everyone. We are figuring out ways to add continuing education credits and professional groups to exceed your expectations for how you do business. It turns out that I don’t know as much about the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of big business as I thought I did. However, never let it be said that I’m not a quick study. We are going to redefine what the individual practice can do. The problem is going to be that while these vendors will beat any price you can find, (and we will only affiliate with the people that we have personally used and vetted) we will need a large number of doctors to act quickly in order to attract even more companies that you need to make a difference in the life and culture of your practice. Currently, I have told each group that I have approached that I wasn’t sure how many would say yes and begin a journey for themselves, but that during the next 8 weeks we would reach out to each of you and ask for your commitment in taking a stand for the little guy in a jungle of managed care, corporate insurance driven, big business predators. Stay tuned and each week we will begin showing you the beginnings of what we hope will be a movement to save Dentistry as we know it, while evolving into a business that can survive whatever is thrown at us during the next decade and beyond.

Michael Abernathy, DDS
972-523-4660 cell
[email protected]