A “Double Standard” is defined as a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. With this in mind, I want to point out four double standards that will doom dentistry if we don’t wake up and look at our businesses differently.
1. Money: We as dentists and dental staff members seem to get upset when our patients are surprised at what modern dentistry costs. We are floored when more and more of our treatment plans are rejected or our patients need to speak with their spouses or get a second opinion. Statistically, the average patient can’t afford a single $500.00 out of pocket expense without going into savings or utilizing their insurance. If you think about it, you and your staff really couldn’t afford the dentistry you present to your patients, but are taken aback when they say no. It is time to offer more options and figure out a way to help patients afford what they need. Hint: It is not Care Credit.
2. Time: How upset are you when dealing with patients showing up late or not at all? Once again, why should we be upset when patients are late, if we are never on time? The number one complaint from patients about their dentist is being kept waiting and the non-consumer hours most dentists keep.
3. Insurance: The ADA says that 93% of all dentists in the US are in-network with managed care, and yes, a PPO is managed care. Yet it seems like every dentist that calls me says they want to be a fee-for-service practice (translates: I can’t wait to fail at business) and that they do accept insurance (translates: We upset every person that comes into the office and finds out that we are not in-network; a la some institutes and speakers). As I travel around, I am seeing PPO penetration in large cities at 65-74%. That means that if your demographic for dentist to population is 1:1,100 (1:2,000 or greater is the goal) and you are not in-network for most insurances, your ratio might drop to 1:400 or less. Add to that a strategy of not seeing patients below 19 years of age, and you just fast tracked your practice to insolvency. The double standard is that we don’t want to take PPO insurance but almost 100% of offices and doctors buy PPO medical insurance for themselves. Makes you “wanna go hmmm?”
4. Corporations: Unless you have been hiding under a rock, most “mom and pop” practices are or should be corporations. We hate national chain owned dental practices (Corporate Dentistry) because they pose a threat to our business model. What we really should do is take the corporate model and incorporate the good things like prime location, staff training, consumer friendly hours, multi-faceted marketing, and wide range of services and expand our practices to meet them head on. If you take a moment and think about Democracy and Capitalism, which the U.S. is built on, it makes sense that if you can’t compete, you deserve to have to close your business. We have grown old and tired of change and we all know when you are done with change, you are done.
We live in a world of consumerism where we will need to embrace the idea that we need to give our patients what they want, when they want it, at a price they can afford. Businesses that do this will always thrive.
This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS