No one has a crystal ball that can predict the future…. but changes are coming…. Many folks in dentistry are fighting the changes, but those who embrace them will get through it as they realize change is inevitable for growth.
Having just moderated a panel of dental experts on this very topic at the AADPA Annual Conference in Long Beach, CA, I will share the most up to date predictions from five of the top forecasters in the future of dentistry.
1) Dr. Charles Blair, Dental Insurance Expert – The dental insurance industry is growing and the world of PPOs and DMOs will continue to grow and dictate the fees that are offered for various services. For those practitioners who choose to remain Fee for Service (FFS), it will become increasingly difficult to maintain a full-time practice while choosing to be non par with the plans around them. Many FFS dentists are bringing in an associate to take on two or three of the plans most used in their geographic area.
2) Mr. Allen Schiff, President and CoFounder of Academy of Dental CPAs – There’s a lot of gloom and doom in dentistry yet a vast majority of Allen’s clients are seeing increases year after year. Allen agrees with the other panelists that dentistry is changing which makes the solo practitioner work harder to compete which can also be a positive. The FFS practices are faced with the
most challenges by not participating in the reduction of reimbursement. He sees more practices feeling the pinch of holding off to remain FFS, but those who are seem proud of their decision.
3) Mr. Travis Franklin, Heartland Dental – With close to 700 practices in the Heartland portfolio, and several other large dental corporations growing; corporate dentistry will continue on an upward trend. They are offering recent grads an opportunity to start earning a paycheck and benefits that include CE without the headaches of practice and team management or marketing issues. Many seasoned dentists are also selling to large corps as it has become increasingly difficult for younger dentists to secure total financing with a huge dental school debt.
4) Mr. Andy Eberhardt, COO Dental Cooperative – Andy represented the Dental Cooperative in Utah which manages hundreds of practices. It is not a corporation but a group of like-minded dentists who are interested in preserving the independent practice. They each still own their own practice but the Dental Cooperative manages it. They do not give up their autonomy by going corporate but they get many of the benefits of doing so. They also receive a reduction of fees for dental supplies, equipment and lab fees to name a few. Above all else better reimbursement from insurance companies as there is strength in numbers.
5) Dr. David Rice, Founder of Ignitedds – Representing the recent grads and young dentists, Dr. Rice shared his concerns with the large sums of school debt, the high costs of continuing education and the lowered reimbursements from insurance companies. Through his teachings and his connection with various dental supply and technology companies, he is providing post graduate courses by working with dental schools and the ADSA (American Dental Student Association). His goal is to steer them in the best direction for themselves whether it be association, corporate, large group, military, etc. Overall, in spite of the many changes facing recent grads, Dr. Rice feels the future of dentistry is still bright for those who become better leaders, better business men and women and those who realize it is a continuous journey of learning.
6) Ms. Linda Miles- Founder of LLM&A and SCN – I believe that the next ten years of dentistry will focus on the whole health movement as it becomes increasingly obvious through research that oral cavity bacteria plays a huge part in oral systemic disease and one’s overall health. Medical cross coding is going to be the next big insurance movement. Head and neck cancers are on the rise due to HPV. Dental Oncology (preparing all cancer patients for their dental clearance treatment) is the first stage of their medical treatment. Delaying this treatment can cost lives.
Linda Miles, is an internationally recognized consultant, speaker and author on dental practice and staff development. Linda is a successful businesswoman who not only founded LLM&A, a leading INC 500 dental management consulting firm in 1978; but also founded the Speaking Consulting Network in 1997. Linda is known as the speaker who instinctively understands and loves to share the business side of practicing dentistry to dentists, teams and other consultants.