Mega Dental Practices the New Dentist Reality?

Dentist Plans “Disneyland of Dentistry”

Dr. Derek Thompson, a 37-year-old Washington state dentist, has set his sights on building the biggest dental practice he possibly can. In fact, he’s gone so far as to call the new facility (which will cover a whopping 25,000 square feet) “the Disneyland of dentistry.”

And what would Disneyland be without entertainment? Thompson plans to delight children with games and an aquarium – oh, and with giant sculptures of prehistoric animals as well. Adults will be able to enjoy free internet access and deluxe coffee drinks.

Dr. Thompson started his career with a more traditional dental practice. Apple Valley Dental found success by targeting the same patients that many other practices try to avoid: those with Medicaid coupons. He and the practice’s three other dentists have a support staff of 30. The practice has expanded rapidly, doing some $1.4 million worth of Medicaid business in 2006.

Thompson’s business model focuses on treating lots of patients (many of them low-income) with lots of tooth decay. And Washington’s Yakima county has no shortage of such patients.

Creekside Dental serves the same population. One of the practice’s doctors, Dr. Shane Smith, explains that the clinic treats 200 patients a day, spread between five dentists and 22 treatment rooms. To handle such a high volume of patients, much of the prep work is performed by dental hygienist and assistants. (In fact, the state legislature recently introduced a new class of dental professionals, expanded function dental auxiliaries, whose responsibilities will be just below those of hygienists.)

Currently, some 85% of dental work is performed by a traditional dentist with his or her own practice. However, as economic realities change, more and more practices will have to examine ways to decrease expenses and increase profitability.

Dr. Thompson is confident he’ll be ahead of the curve. His new 25,000-square-foot facility will have 28 patient rooms, though he’s only planning to use 15 of them in the beginning.

Many dentists are critical of high-volume dental practices, calling them “dental mills” or “assembly lines.” However, Thompson shrugs off this criticism. “Is it a mill because we’ll accept children who need help?” he asks rhetorically.

Being the vanguard of a new era in dentistry is not without its risks. However, Thompson’s competitors were diplomatic when asked about his strategies. “Derek Thompson is a promoter, and you need promoters,” said one. “He’s doing a completely different thing,” offered another.

Thompson himself was less conciliatory. “We’ve destroyed every other clinic in town on services,” he boasts. “This is competitive annihilation. You’re seeing a changing of the guard.”

In total, what does this all mean? Mega practices are nothing new. Las Vegas has been running 24-hour practices for casino and hotel employees for at least ten years. Entertainment for kids has always been big in the pediatric dentistry market. Giant dinosaurs are just the next step. The only thing I’m unsure of is highly-caffeinated patients from the deluxe coffee drinks… That could be a problem in the making!

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Dental Associations Do Battle in New York State

The New York Times is reporting on the grand battle for political control of that state’s dental associations.

New York State

On the one side, we have the NY State Dental Association. It’s run by lobbyist Roy Lasky.

On the other side is the NY County Dental Society. Based in Manhattan, it’s a local group. And they’ve just hired their own lobbyist.

That’s because the Manhattan group is fighting for its very survival. A bill now in Albany could let the state group eliminate the local group entirely.

The Manhattan-based group has raised concerns about Mr. Lasky of the statewide society. In 2006, he earned nearly $300k as the group’s executive director and another $140k as its Albany lobbyist. The local group also worries Lasky could face potential conflicts of interest.

So why is this such a big deal? Not surprisingly, the answer is financial. The Manhattan-based local society puts on an annual trade show, the Greater New York Dental Meeting, which brings in millions in revenue and is among the country’s largest dental meetings.


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Whew! $15 Million Dental Malpractice Award in Washington

Oral Surgeon Plans to Appeal Jury’s Award

In a jury trial, Washington state’s Spokane County Superior Court awarded a stunning $14.8 million to a woman left disabled after a series of jaw operations. The defendant’s lawyer commented that it was the largest dental malpractice award he had seen in his 21 years of practice in the state.

Kimberly Kallestad, 29, originally injured her jaw while sledding. Botched operations left her jaw fused shut. She suffers from chronic pain, and her parents now take care of her.

Oral surgeon Dr. Patrick Collins has allegedly had similar problems with patients in the past. He is planning to appeal the verdict.

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Could You Run Your Family or Dental Practice This Way?

Could You Run Your Family or Dental Practice This Way?

The following was passed on to me by one of our readers . . .

Interesting Perspective on the American Debt

If you’ve been watching the world news lately, here’s some math to consider…

  • U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000
  • New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
  • Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
  • National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
  • Budget cut: $ 2, 100,000,000,000 ( CBO estimated )/ Annualized over 10 years (210,000,000,000)

It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to. Let’s remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the family budget for the fictitious Smith family.

  • Total annual income for the Smith family: $21,700
  • Amount of money the Smith family spent: $38,200
  • Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Amount cut from the budget: $210

So in effect last month Congress, or in this example the SMITH family, sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $210 from its annual budget.

What family would cut $210 of spending in order to solve $16,500 in deficit spending?

Now I believe that this does not take into consideration the interest on that credit card!

It is an obvious expression of the frustration almost all of us have with the current political process and the resulting economic mayhem that we are being forced to endure.

At this point the market collapse has seen over one trillion dollars of American investors’ capital investment and dentists’ retirement funding vanish in the last two weeks.

Dentists: Does 99 Dollars an Hour Make You a Wealthy Dentist?

Dentists: Does 99 Dollars an Hour Make You a Wealthy Dentist?Dentists make $99.00 an hour, which is more than orthopaedic surgeons but less than nurse anesthetists, according to a study by Suneel B. Bhat, MD, an orthopaedic surgery resident and his colleagues at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Presented this month at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2012 Annual Meeting, Dr. Bhat’s study found that becoming an orthopaedic surgeon was a “poor financial investment” compared with studying law, dentistry, or anesthesia nursing, according to Medscape Today News.

“Our study, the first direct comparison of the financial return of orthopaedic surgery to other professions, highlights the point that there is a relatively lower financial value incentive for qualified individuals to enter orthopaedics compared to several other professions, which could potentially have far-reaching implications on career choice and subsequent access to care for patients,” the authors concluded.

The Medscape report revealed that the researchers found that dentists earned a cumulative career total of $6,866,796.

That was less than the $10,756,190 made by orthopaedic surgeons, the $8,381,250 made by lawyers, and the $7,338,412 made by nurse anesthetists, but more than the $3,867,504 made by nurse practitioners.

Also published in the report is the amount of debt factored into the study for orthopaedic surgery students, which has increased by $34,000 for public schools and $40,000 in private schools over the past five years.

Since 1984, the medical school tuition has raised in public institutions by 165% and in private institutions 312%. They assumed that educational loans would be deferred until the annual liability was less than 25% of earnings, and that interest on the loans was 8.25%, according to Medscape.

When hourly income was calculated, orthopaedic surgeons made $88.00 per hour, compared to $93.00 for nurse anesthetists, $130.00 for lawyers, $49.00 nurse practitioners, and $99.00 for dentists.

The lingering recession has taken a bite out of dentists’ incomes over the past 4 years with many laying off employees and postponing retirement. The average dentist salary according to the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics is $74.00 an hour, with some new dentists earning $26.00 per hour at the lower salary range, while dentists at the upper range earn $80.00 per hour.

Another recent study compared the earning of high school graduates who skipped college and grad school expenses and went directly into the trades. The study compared a plumber with no advance educational cost and debt to a physician. The plumber came out ahead on life time earnings.

The real kicker was that the physicians not only got nailed for the extra school costs and debt expense, but were taxed by the government at a higher rate on their delayed earnings.

With the cost of higher education continuing to rise and the amount of student loan debt graduates carry after graduation, do you think dentists leaving dental school today still have the opportunity to become a wealthy dentist?

For more on this study see: Dentists’ Hourly Income Better Than Orthopaedic Surgeons’

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