Dentists should take particular note of these changing 2018 Dentistry Trends and adjust their business model accordingly.
Healthcare services will remain relationship based, relying heavily on providing an ideal patient experience and positive treatment outcomes. However, the manner in which that is accomplished is changing.
According to Dentistry IQ, more than 50% of dental treatments related to extractions and implant cases are expected to be performed in the private practices of general dentists within the next 10 years. National Center for Biotechnology Information is reporting 70% of all endodontic treatments are now done in the general dentist office.
This provides additional partnership opportunities between general dentists and specialists to share in the financial value of treatments while focusing on ideal patient outcomes. Dental specialists should take particular note of these changing trends and adjust their business model accordingly.
Rise in Traveling Specialists
The solo practitioner continues to move from a traditional 4-treatment room practice to a larger footprint including 5-12 treatment rooms with a designated specialty treatment area, such as a surgical suite, occupied by a part-time traveling specialist. The demand for in-house specialists is expected to continue to be strong as general dentists face decreased insurance reimbursement and increased pressure from group practices, including Dental Service Organizations (DSO) or Management Service Organizations (MSOs) models.
Specialists who struggle to keep their schedule full, can benefit from partnerships with general dentists to provide care in facilities in neighboring locations. Additional locations will open the specialists to a larger general population and an increased number of potential referring general dentists.
Increase in Group Practice Models with Central Scheduling and Billing Services
Emerging group practice models continue to grow including large, multi-practice, multi-state models to smaller privately owned models with less than 10 locations.
Increases in Techonolgy/Decreases in Patient Chair Time
- Digital impressions, HD cameras, CAD/CAM and 3D printing technology continue to shape the dental industry. Increased consumer knowledge and the desire for more efficient, single-day treatment by both patients and dentists will further this trend. Insurance reimbursement pressure will force dentists to continue to seek faster, fewer appointment options to deliver care. Technology streamlines the appointment process and provides additional confidence to the general dentist.
- General dentists are expected to continue to purchase advanced technology as they venture into providing treatment traditionally referred to specialists.
- Orthodontists continue to streamline processes in order to decrease overall treatment time for case completion.
- Digital integration continues to grow in the management office with electronic confirmations, texts, referral tracking and longer-range finance options.
Increase in Services Provided
Specialists and general dentists alike are seeking opportunities to provide additional services such as treating sleep apnea, TMD and facial pain management.
Changes in Referral Patterns and Marketing
- Specialists will need to continue to nurture referrals from general dentists while adding direct-to-consumer marketing.
- Expect a continued increase in CE opportunities specific to enhancing the skillset of general dentists. As an example, Nobel Biocare has trained 245,000 generalists at their training centers in the U.S. to place implants. Specialists can offer lunch and learn opportunities, focused on case studies, designed to highlight the added value they bring when partnered with on difficult cases.
- Online review management will remain a top priority as potential patients look to reviews more than ever, before making buying decisions. According to review trackers, 94% of survey respondents reported a negative online review convinced them not to visit a provider. In addition, 80% of respondents felt a response from the business to a review indicated the business “cared more” about their clients than those who did not respond.
The changing practice model in dentistry is destined to bring change to the manner in which specialists interact with general dentists. Understanding new practice models, economic pressures faced by the general dentist and enhanced opportunities through technology will aid the specialists in future referral partnerships and practice growth.
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