Festivals Are for Dental Practices, Too!

Editorial
by Jim Du Molin

Summer’s here, and it’s festival time for your dental marketing!

Just about every community has a summer festival of one sort or another. In the last month alone, my little town of Tiburon, California has had a wine festival (we have no vineyards), an arts festival (I’m sure we have artists), an antique auto show (yes, we have cars) and a “Friday Night on Main Street” get-together (people eating and drinking in the street while listening to music). However, I’ve yet to see a “Shark Festival,” although tiburon is Spanish for “shark.” I have yet to see a local dentist take advantage of these marketing opportunities, though I can imagine a giant Jaws-style shark float with big teeth.

On a national level, I can report on at least one great creative approach to festival marketing by a dental office. Dr. Jim Sparaga and his wife Kathy of Machias, Maine, put together a great float for their town’s Wild Blueberry Festival. That’s Dr. Jim driving the tractor with some kids from his practice riding the float. And yes, those are blueberries stuck in the giant smile.

On the other side of the float he had his team passing out balloons. Needless to say, they won first prize for this creative endeavor – not to mention a tremendous amount of local good will and recognition for the practice.

I’m still trying to figure out what the chair on the back of the float was for, but let’s not quibble about the details. If you have done some festival marketing, feel free to email your photos and ideas to Jim@TheWealthyDentist.com.

Quit Smoking, Get Cosmetic Dentistry?

UK Smoking Ban Leads to Increased Interest in Tooth Whitening

This summer, England introduced a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, and other businesses. It would seem this smoking ban has been good for dentists. The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports a 12% increase in in cosmetic procedures such as tooth bleaching and veneers. Said president Christopher Orr: “It appears people are smoking less now due to the ban, so it is not a surprise that many would like an improved smile to go with their better health.”

Read more

Protect Your Dental Practice by Bonding Your Employees

Editorial
by Bryan Truitt and Jim Du Molin

Even if you have an internal controls system that makes embezzlement difficult, the danger of collusion still exists. (I’ve already told you that embezzlement is common, it can be detected, and it can be prevented.) One of the ways in which some dental practices protect themselves from employee dishonesty is by bonding their employees.

Bonding is the process by which an employer can be indemnified for the loss of money or other property sustained through dishonest acts of a “bonded” employee. Bonding can cover many types of acts including larceny, theft, embezzlement, forgery, misappropriation, wrongful abstraction, willful misapplication, or other fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by an employee, alone or in collusion with others.

There are several types of fidelity bonds. Discuss each with your agent to determine whether damages from negligence are covered. Basically, your practice has several options at its disposal:

  • Individual: covers one employee. Usually purchased by small practices or family-operated businesses with only one employee.
  • Name schedule or position schedule: covers either the employees or positions specified.
  • Blanket fidelity: covers all employees.
  • Commercial, blanket, and blanket position: provides multiple protection (comprehensive dishonesty, disappearance and destruction coverage, or a blanket crime policy).

There is wide choice in features and coverage as well as cost differences in bonding coverage. It difficult to understand why only two practices in ten have this economical insurance.

Next week, we’ll talk about what to do when you have discovered a problem.

Dentist Annual Fee Increases: Dental Management

Dentist schedules: 55% are open lateDentist annual fee increases aren’t universal in a recession economy, suggests this survey. While half of dentists (54%) report that they have raised fees in the past year, it’s been over a year since their last fee increase for the other half (44%). And 2% have even lowered their dental fees.

Those who did raise fees did it by an average of 4.5%. “Staff realized how important it was and influenced me!” said one dentist. “I was hesitant at this time, but they insisted because of how expenses are increasing, etc, not because they want raises. They know the difficulties of today running a practice.”

It’s worth noting that not one pediatric dentist in this survey said they had raised fees in the past 12 months. “I’m holding fees steady this year. Economy and all,” said one children’s dentist.

Dental consultants tell dentists they should be raising dental fees each and every year as a part of their dental management. Here are some comments from dentists on the topic:

  • “I’ve had patients leaving to find a network dentist for a few dollars savings. A fee increase does not seem wise or humane.” (Texas dentist)
  • “In a down market, reducing fees can offer a competitive advantage.” (California periodontist)
  • “Don’t increase across the board. Some up, some the same.” (Periodontist)
  • “Although we have raised our default fees, my fees are primarily based on the complexity and difficulty of the case.” (Dental implant dentist)
  • “Will be meeting soon to review our costs and the economic situation.” (North Carolina oral surgeon)
  • “This year I raised them 5%, similar last year The demand for my services is high.” (West Virginia TMJ dentist)
  • “Difficult to raise dental fees during these difficult economic times.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Once per year we increase fees at least 3-4% to keep up with annual inflation. A few fees are increasing more than 4%, like gold dental crown fees.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “We kept the basic services the same (prophys etc) but raised the other fees. We find that patients do not notice the increase unless we increase the prophy and exam fees.” (California dentist)
  • “Since some of our co-pays are based on a percentage of our registered fees, we had to increase our fees.” (New Jersey dentist)

Read more – Dental Management: Annual Dental Fee Increase

Orthodontist Sued for Missing a Cancerous Lesion

Should Orthodontists Be Held Liable for Missing a Cancerous Lesion?

Lawsuits can strike fear in the hearts of dentists – not only for the costs involved, but for the damage they inflict on a dentist’s reputation that has taken a lifetime to build.

Where does liability end and common sense begin?

Recently the NY state court found that orthodontist Dr. Michael Donato was not negligent in the death of former patient Stephanie Hare. Ms. Hare’s family held Dr. Donato responsible for Stephanie’s death due to failing to detect a cancerous lesion during a December 2003 visit.

In April 2004, a lump was detected on her tongue by Dr. Donato, who ultimately referred her to an oral surgeon. But by then, the cancer was in its advanced stages. She died seven months later.

The family was seeking a $2.3 million award from Dr. Donato for pain and suffering.

The case pivoted around whether jurors would believe the cancerous lesion was present on Dec. 19, 2003 when Ms. Hare’s family said she complained of soreness to Dr. Donato; whether Dr. Donato should have found the lesion during a routine orthodontist examination; and whether he followed standard dental care during the exam.

“Stephanie’s death was not anybody’s fault,” Dr. Donato’s lawyer, Douglas Fitzmorris, told jurors in his summation. “Stephanie died of cancer. Dr. Donato is not to blame. The whole specter of this lesion being missed by Dr. Donato is not what happened. There was no deviation from accepted practice.”

And the jury agreed with Fitzmorris’ assessment of the case.

Should an orthodontist be held liable if he misses a cancerous legion? What if the patient’s complaints sound like issues stemming from braces and not cancer?

For more on this story, see Staten Island Advance.

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