Economic Changes at the Dental Practice

The recession economy is leading to changes for 3 of 4 dentistsIn this survey, three of four dentists (74%) said they have made changes as a result of the slow economy.

Half (48%) said they’re reducing office expenses, 30% are instituting layoffs or staff reductions, and 13% are reducing employee compensation.

In terms of  dental marketing, 30% have increased their spending, while 9% have reduced marketing costs.

Here are some of their comments:

  • “In rural areas, the downturn is not affecting us as much. We don’t see the big ‘ups,’ but also don’t see the big ‘downs.'” (General dentist)
  • “People are reluctant to spend.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “We are relying upon the internet for more of our new patients, especially Yelp.com.”
  • “Fewer chairside hours.” (California dentist)
  • “We did not lay off team members, but we chose to work with a smaller team and did not replace some team when attrition occurred. Team has 6, including 1 dentist.” (Canada dentist)
  • “We added staff.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “We have added new procedures.” (Texas orthodontist)
  • “We negotiated and joined a couple of dental insurance plans. We negotiated a very good fee schedule and are getting more new patients, too!” (Ohio prosthodontist)

Read more: Recession Economy Affects Dentists, Dental Practices

Dentists: Are Dental Hygienists Worth Their Weight in Gold?(video)

Dentists: Are Dental Hygienists Worth Their Weight in Gold?(video)In our story, Dental Hygienists Among the Fastest Growing Occupations in the U.S. we revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook for 2008-2018 expects the demand to hire more hygienists to perform preventive dental care will continue to grow.

According to the ADA, independent dentists reported paying full-time dental hygienists $33.90 per hour in 2008.

Considering the current economic environment The Wealthy Dentist decided to conduct a survey asking dentists if they pay their hygienists an hourly wage or if compensation is based on commission.

It seems most dentists still pay their dental hygienists an hourly wage, but some feel paying on commission is more fair. Said one dentist, “Hygienists are worth their weight in gold!” Another dentist disagreed saying, “Practices couldn’t run without them, but the current economics barely breaks even at best … hygienists seem to think they are cash cows for the office and fail to recognize the support and facilities the utilize.”

It’s an interesting economic issue. Click on Play to hear more of what dentists say about paying hygienists —

How do you pay the hygienist in your practice?

Dental Insurance Determines Who Will See a Dentist

Dental Insurance Determines Who Will See a DentistDental insurance status is a major determinant of who will seek dental treatment, according to a Facts and Findings report by Rutgers’ Center for State Health Policy.

The report complied data from the CSHP’s 2001 and 2009 New Jersey Family Health surveys on children ages 3 to 18 who received no dental services within a year.

The study found that children with employer-sponsored or privately purchased dental insurance were much more likely to receive dental care than children without dental insurance or even those covered by publicly insured programs like by Medicaid/NJ Family Care.

According to Rudgers University news, the report also pointed to well-care doctor visits as an important indicator of the likelihood of a child receiving dental care, possibly because of efforts to increase dental referrals in managed care plans and the expansion of dental care in federally qualified health centers.

“The odds were three times as great for children who did not have a well-child doctor visit in the past year to not receive dental care as those who visited a doctor,” said José Nova, research project coordinator and lead author of the study. He noted that care for under-served children could be improved with expanded health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Reuters estimates that 45 million Americans do not have dental insurance.

To read more on this report see: Rutgers Study: When it Comes to Use of Dental Services, not all New Jersey Youngsters are Equal

Dentists Looking to 2012 for an Economic Upswing

Dentists Looking to 2012 for an Economic UpswingRecent economic reports give U.S. economists hope that 2012 will be an improvement over 2011, and it seems there are many dentists who agree.

“If the economy improves, as it should, we all should do better in 2012!” said one dentist.

In fact, when asked what they expect for 2012, 77% of the dentists who responded to our survey anticipate a better financial picture, while only 23% expect 2012 to be a bad year.

When asked about the past two years, 42% of the dentists said 2011 was economically better than 2010. However, for 40% of dentists, 2011 was economically worse than 2010. 18% saw no difference economically between 2010 and 2011.

Here are some dentist comments:

Dental marketing worked…

“We plan that each year will improve over previous year due to addition of an associate and definitive marketing strategies utilizing the Internet Dental Alliance web sites!” (Oklahoma dentist)

“We didn’t have a better year by mistake. It was due to being proactive and using targeted dental marketing.” (California dentist)

“We streamlined our dental marketing efforts, increased our marketing return on investment, focused more on internal marketing, and tightened our belts on our overall office expenditures. We will end this year with more new patients and economically much better than the previous 3 years. We are riding out the economic storm fairly well.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

“I feel our picture is 50% real and 50% what’s in our head. If we stay positive and use services like yours we can make our results better than average. How much better depends on our head and the help we get.” (Urgent care dentist)

Implementing new strategies helped …

“We are staying afloat because we offer a very wide-range of services for a General Dentist – Invisalign, Sedation, Implant placement and restoration, CEREC, most Endo, Perio, and Oral Surgery. Without this broad offering, we would be doing much worse.” (General dentist)

“We are down 5% but we completely remodeled our office doubling our space, had 5 of 8 staff members pregnant, losing 4 of them, worked through the construction dust and noise, and were still only down 5%, so I am happy with 5% downturn. I look forward to 2012.” (California dentist)

“In order to turn things around, I have completely had to change my practice. I have a management group I am now using and am revamping office systems. We are working hard to maintain the high level of care we have always offered, but am now participating as “in network” with dental insurance, and am now thinking about profit centers and time management. We are trying for a balance that doesn’t diminish our ability to do awesome dentistry, but it will be more difficult with the restrictions that insurance companies place on treatment. Illinois has been hit hard by the economy, with the “reported” unemployment level finally getting down under 11% for the 1st time in 3 years in December with the seasonal Christmas hirings. The actual unemployment is around 21%.” (Illinois dentist)

“I spent time creating additional avenues of wealth.” (General dentist)

“I will continue as I have through thick and thin, modifying as I see necessary, continuing to update skills, and taking very good care of my patients. While this year was a downturn, compared to many of my local peers, it was truly a minor one.” (South Carolina dentist)

“I am dropping Delta Premier. I tried it this year and I can’t give that 25-35 percent discount.” (Illinois dentist)

Looking to 2012 for relief …

“Our goal is to increase by 30% in 2012.” (New Jersey dentist)

“The first half of 2011 was the best ever. The second half saw a decrease relative to 2010. The trend is for 2012 to be flat, so I am playing it very conservative right now.” (Virginia dentist)

“They must improve in 2012!” (General dentist)

“In 2012 I definitely need to change how I do business in regards to PPOs. I use to be an all fee-for-service practice. That dwindled, and now I am busy, but not profitable. (California dentist)

“If President Obama loses we’ll see a much better economy.” (General dentist)

The Wealthy Dentist would like to thank all the doctors and specialists who have participated in our dental surveys over the past year. We find your insights and comments invaluable and we appreciate the time you take to offer feedback.

We wish all of you a very prosperous 2012!

Has It Become Harder for Dental Patients to Get Dental Financing? (video)

Dental financing can be a real challenge, with 65% of dentists reporting that it has gotten harder for dental patients to get credit.

Dental credit cards, dental loans and other dental financing options let dentists avoid the risk of in-house dental financing.

But sometimes lenders don’t want to take the risk of either making it hard for many patients to get dental credit for dental care.

Read more: Dental Patients Can’t Get Credit: Dentist Survey

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