Dental Practice Management: North Carolina Senate Bill Wants Dentists To Do It Themselves

Senate ruling on dental practice managementLast week in our post, Dentists Beware: The Government May Want To Tell You How To Manage Your Practice, we reported on the story of the North Carolina Senate and Senate Bill 655, which would require the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners to examine all business contracts entered into by dental practices in their state.

Dr. Clifton Cameron, a dentist in North Carolina reported to the Fay Observer that, “Senate Bill 655 would give the Dental Board complete control of how dentists in North Carolina run their practices so they can keep fees charged to patients artificially high and insurance acceptance artificially low.”

We wrote that we couldn’t find the reasoning behind such a move by the NC Senate and Board of Dental Examiners, but the Board did post the following to their website:

“The Board has become increasingly concerned about the expanding scope and nature of management company services and agreements, and their impact on the control of dental practices by the licensed dentists.

The bundled services offered by management companies typically involve some combination of (1) administrative management services; and (2) financial management services.

Based on its knowledge of the operations of dental practices, and after reviewing management arrangements with dental practices for almost ten (10) years, the Board has identified features of management arrangements which it has determined to be highly likely to create a situation where the ownership, management, supervision or control of a dental practice is impermissibly conveyed to an unlicensed person or organization because either separately or when bundled, those features interfere with the licensed dentists’ professional decision-making and their exercise of clinical skill, judgment and supervision in the dental practice.”

After we ran our original story, several doctors commented. A New Jersey dentist wrote:

“In New Jersey, the state board already forbids outside management. My partner and I spend about 20-30 per week running my business instead of on continuing education or, patient care.

The real argument isn’t whether or not I could be one of the practices recruited by management companies, but the unfair advantage it would bring to my practice over anothers’. Lower overhead, decreased fees, increased insurance acceptance, large marketing budgets would destroy competition and lower practice values and access to care.

Management companies specify laboratory selection, supply selection, employee selection, and continuing education budgets. While they bring lower overhead, they take money from the practice as well. If you fail to be attractive, your practice cannot contract with them.

Giving this advantage to a small percentage of dentists is unfair to the majority of dentists that do not wish to join or would not be accepted. I have 10 dentists within a 0.5 mile radius. We can’t all be Aspen Dental Centers. The other 9 practices would suffer, and that wouldn’t be fair.

This is about the only aspect of dental life in New Jersey that makes practicing here worthwhile. Defeat it. Resist, North Carolina!”

Another dentist responded with:

“Have they gone mad over there? Sounds like there’s something they are not telling us about…It sounds like the insurance companies are in bed with the politicians again….”

Indeed, it could be a game changer that would impact North Carolina dentists and how they manage their dental practices. The North Carolina Office of Research, Demonstrations and Rural Health Development reports that there is already a severe shortage of primary health care providers in North Carolina, particularly in the State’s rural areas.

But perhaps this isn’t about patient care at all — or making dental practices transparent.  Perhaps this is about lawmakers just playing politics.

New Dental Marketing Trend: Buying Dead Celebrity Teeth?

New Dental Marketing Trend: Buying Dead Celebrity Teeth -Image Edmonton JournalWhen it comes to dental marketing, can purchasing celebrity teeth bring dentists more dental patients?

It would seem that one dentist may think so.

Canadian dentist Michael Zuk has once again made headlines with his $10,000 purchase of a crown once belonging to Elvis Presley.

The first time this dentist made news was when he paid $31,000 for a rotten tooth that belonged to John Lennon.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the Elvis crown was fashioned by Memphis dentist Henry Weiss for the King, who had a talent for chipping his teeth by banging them against microphones.

The family of the late Dr. Henry Weiss called Dr. Zuk to alert him that they were seeking a buyer for the dental crown after reading how Zuk had previously purchased Lennon’s bicuspid, which the dentist hopes will be recognized by the Guinness World Records as the most money paid for a human tooth.

It would seem that collecting teeth is not the only celebrity obsession Dr. Zuk admits to. In the past, the dentist has also purchased a piece of one of Elvis Presley’s scarves, a lock of Marilyn Monroe’s hair, the signature of Woody Woodpecker cartoonist Walter Lantz, and autographed pictures of musician Gene Simmons and Gilligan’s Island star Bob Denver, reports the Sun.

Zuk displays the items at his dental practice, with the exception of John Lennon’s tooth, which he keeps locked up elsewhere for safety reasons. Dentist Zuk told the Sun, “I don’t trust leaving it around. People steal my newspaper. Anybody who would steal your newspaper would steal one of John Lennon’s teeth.”

It is possible that Dr. Zuk is one brilliant dental marketer.

He once hired the actor who played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld to do a dental commercial for him, to growl, “No tooth for you!” at the end of his commercial piece.

For more on this story see: Alberta Dentist Proud Owner of the King’s ‘Crown’

Dentists: Are You No Longer a Wealthy Dentist?

Dentists: Are You No Longer a Wealthy Dentist?Dentists’ incomes are dropping according to a report published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

The ADA and data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel conducted a survey to analyze trends in real gross billings per dentist visit, rates of collection of gross dental patient billings, number of visits to a dentist, percentage of the population who visited a dentist, population to dentist ratio and average real practice expenses.

The survey results reflect a random sample of approximately 4000 to 7000 dentists in private practice.

The survey found that the downward income trend was driven primarily by a decrease in dental patients seeking dental care.

The decline in dental care use, although most notable during the economic downturn, appears to have started before the downturn began.

A smaller portion of the U.S. population is seeing a dental care annually, going from 40.6% in 2005 to 38.6% in 2009.

Marko Vujicic, PhD, an American Dental Association economist, told Medscape Medical News that another study confirmed that an increasing number of Americans say they can no longer afford the dental care they need. Many states cut Medicaid dental benefits at the same time that employers cut back on dental insurance benefits, which left more of the general population without dental insurance coverage.

Further ADA surveys have shown that the reason dental patients don’t go to the dentist more often is that it now costs too much (34%). More than half of consumers (51%) who have not been to the dentist in the past five years report that high costs are an important factor. About 26% of consumers had a previous bad experience with a dentist and one-quarter do not feel that it is necessary to go to the dentist until a problem occurs.

According to the ADA the average gross billings per owner dentist in 2009 was $727,630 for a general practitioner and $1,004,820 for a specialist.

Quality dental marketing seems to help buck the downward income trend by helping dentists acquire more new dental patients. Investing in the latest dental technology also helps add to the dental practice bottom line, according to dental accountant Bassim Michael.

What has your experience been this year? Has your dental practice income dropped?

For more on this story see: Dentists’ Incomes Dropping, Says ADA Survey

Dental Video Marketing: How To Optimize Your YouTube Dental Videos

Dental Video Marketing: How to Optimize Your YouTube Dental VideosDental videos are an important part of a Internet dental marketing strategy, and YouTube is not only one of the most popular search engines, but it is also the most popular site for publishing videos.

If you are a dental practice that is using YouTube to spread the word about your dental practice, are you setting them up so that they perform the way that you need them to?

Here are 5 dental video marketing tips for optimizing your dental videos on YouTube for search —

1. Plan your video title.
The video title can be up to 100 characters long, so it’s important to put your dental practice name at the beginning (think about how you want your videos to show up in Google search when someone searches for you) followed by your keyword phrase. Something like, “City Name XYZ Dental Practice Dental Implant Process or you could move around your geo-targeted words “XYZ Dental Practice City Name Dental Implant Process.”

YouTube has a keyword research tool at ads.youtube.com/keyword_tool where you can research the phrases you want to use.

2. Transcribe your videos and add keywords.
Be sure to replace YouTube’s video transcription with your own text file. It’s simple to upload and you can make sure that your transcription actually matches what you are saying in the video, but you can add keyword phrases like your geo-targeted dental practice location to further help search engines find your content online.

3. Think carefully about tags.
Think about 7 keywords to use as tags to best describe your video. Tags associate videos with other videos on YouTube with the same tag which creates the “related video” section. What associated videos would you like to appear with on YouTube? As you can see tags are more than just describing what your content is about, it also determines what videos you will be connected with on YouTube.

4. Utilize the description area.
Use the description area as a blog post about the video. Put your web address at the very beginning so that it shows first – right under your video. Make sure to list a contact email and phone number. Too many YouTube videos under-utilize the description area and don’t use it as an opportunity to discuss the video and what you have to offer.

5. Share your videos.
Be sure to share your videos on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and in your dental practice newsletters. YouTube factors the number of times your dental practice videos have been viewed within a certain time-frame. The more your videos are viewed, the higher the video ranks on YouTube, which brings with it the attention of mainstream media and can land your dental videos on YouTube’s top videos list.

These simple techniques can make all the difference in who sees and shares your YouTube videos. Utilizing dental videos is another way to fill up the first page of search with content relevant to your dental practice instead of random websites that simply happen to use the same keywords.

The Internet Dental Alliance provides informational videos that dentists can optionally include in their dental website New Patient Portals. These professional videos educate current and prospective patients on dental topics like cosmetic dentistry, tooth whitening, braces, dental implants, and more. Click here to see how videos personalize dental websites and increase the conversion rate of visitors to appointment requests.

Cosmetic Dentistry Tops The List As Most Popular Dental Practice Service (Video)

Dental practice marketing with internet videoIn addition to family and general dentistry, most dental practices provide additional types of dentistry.

Dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and braces are some of the many services dentists offer.

“We offer a very wide range of services for a general dentist: Invisalign, sedation dentistry, dental implant placement & restoration, CEREC, most Endo, Perio, and Oral Surgery. Without this broad offering, we would be doing much worse financially,” said a Minnesota dentist.

“More than half of our practice is dental implants now,” said a California dentist.

We conducted a survey asking dentists which services their dental practice offers.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss the vareity of services that dentists offer:

What are the most popular dental services offered?

Besides general and family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry is number one. In fact, 86% of dentists responding to this survey offer cosmetic treatment.

Over 70% of dentists also mentioned tooth whitening, dental implants and crowns, dentures, and children’s dentistry.

Over half of dentist respondents also offer root canal therapy and treat gum disease.

What types of dentistry are less commonly offered?

Just under half of respondents mentioned TMJ, Invisalign, and wisdom teeth. Only one in three offers sedation dentistry, and one in four provide orthodontics or treat sleep apnea.

It’s important that dentists consider the types of treatment they offer when creating a dental marketing plan.

“In our litigious society it is better to refer anything that can be done better by a specialist, including molar endo. It is not worth the trouble, and the patients will love you for referring. You lose patients on whom you do extractions – trust me, that is spoken with 50 years’ experience,” said a New York dentist.

“Oral conscious sedation is great combination with CEREC users – one appointment dentistry while sedated,” said an Oklahoma dentist.

“An oversupply of orthodontists and general dentists doing braces and other orthodontic procedures will mean more competition for the few patients considering treatment,” said a Wisconsin orthodontist.

“I have been teaching and doing Botox injections for over 7 years. Where else can one earn about $500 profit in under 5 minutes? Cosmetics pays,” said a New Jersey dentist.

Jim thinks dentists should offer services that, number one, patients are interested in, and number two, that the dentist likes providing.

“To me, those are the two essential elements of a successful dentist: making a profit – and enjoying yourself while you do so,”  said  Jim.

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