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

Dental Financing Important in Tough Times

In this survey, the majority of dentists said they offer their patients outside financing options.

Very few dental practices these days offer their own financing. “We’ve never offered inside financing,” wrote one prosthodontist. “We don’t want to deal with any problems, so we farm the financing out.”

Here are some other things dentists had to say:

  • “It is more difficult now for people to afford one more payment that they need to come up with the money for. In this economic climate, if it doesn’t hurt to offer financing if they want to wait.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “It really increases production and collections. Patients love the 0% financing.” (California dentist)
  • “Outside financing has been a tremendous financial boon for our practice. Relationships stay where they should be when the payment is to a 3rd party.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “We use Care Credit.” (California periodontist)
  • “We’ve never offered inside financing. Everyone I’ve talked to says DON’T DO IT!” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “We are surprised by the number of patients who are turned down by the outside agency. In most cases, we would have provided in-house arrangements.” (Ohio oral surgeon)

Read more: Dentists Prefer Outside Dental Financing,/p>

Is Dentist Practice Production on the Rebound in 2011?

dental production for 2011Dentist practice production hasn’t declined for all dentists, with 46% reporting increases to their production in the first quarter of 2011, according to our recent survey.

24% of practices have seen an increase of up to 10%, and another 16% are seeing increases in the 10 – 20% range. Only 6% have seen production increase by 20% or more.

The slight minority (38%) have seen their dental practice production decrease this quarter. Only 16% have not noticed a change.

Here are some dentist comments:

  • “The recovery has not trickled down to the worker level yet. Now we are feeling the pinch of higher gas prices and also the increase in consumer goods.” (Texas dentist)
  • “During these economic times, being lazy is not an asset. It is a time to dig in, work hard, market hard and effectively and make sure that you have the capacity to handle the demands your marketing (internal and external) will place on your practice.” (Michigan dentist)
  • “The measuring rod is not the practice’s production, it’s the practice’s collections! I am actually producing more but my collections rate has decreased. The insurance companies are making me take more write-offs if I am a “preferred” provider for them and the insurance companies, in general, are paying less for the same procedures than they have in past years. I guess they are trying to build up their coffers before health care reform takes full effect!” (Alabama dentist)
  • “Our production has increased significantly the past 6 months, especially the past 3 months. This may not necessarily be due to a slightly better economy but likely due to more people feeling like they can no longer continue to delay treatment, improved office marketing (including increased Internet dental marketing) and an emphasis on internal marketing. We have actually decreased our advertising costs compared to last year and have become smarter with our marketing.” (Ohio dentist)
  • “The economy has not picked up from what I see, only significant stress, clenching, fractures. I will note that I have not seen any slowing in Botox, and dermal fillers treatment, whether for TMD or cosmetic.” (Minnesota dentist)
  • “Production seems to be up due to pent-up demand. Patients who had been delaying treatment were continuing their treatment.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “I took Jim Du Molin’s signage advice and new patient flow has increased noticeably. Thank you so much!” (Nevada dentist)

Dental Practice Production for Dentists in 2011

Who Else Wants Dentists Targeted for Tooth Tax?

tooth taxDo you think dental services should be taxed?

Apparently Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin believes so.

A $24 million new tax package was recently approved by the Vermont House Ways and Means Committee. They voted 7-1 on a package intended to help make up a $176 million projected shortfall in their state.

Fortunately for dentists and patients residing in Vermont, the package did not include Gov. Peter Shumlin’s plan to expand the provider tax to include dental services.

His “tooth tax” initiative would have imposed a 3% tax on the gross receipts of dental services.

Dentists in Vermont were outraged, and more than 4,500 people signed a petition with the VSDS opposing the 3% tax.

The Vermont State Dental Society vehemently opposed the tax, stating, “We believe it makes much more sense to tax items that hinder oral health like candy, soda and tobacco. Taxing health care to pay for health care is a math problem that just doesn’t add up.” The group called for dentists and patients alike to sign the petition through the VSDS website.

The controversial expansion of the provider tax to include dentists that would have raised another $3 million in revenue for the state.

Even though the increased tax would have increased Medicaid payments, dentists still believe a tax on dental services is the wrong way for the state to raise funds.

Should dental services be taxed? If you were in Vermont, would you have signed the petition?

For more on this story, see the Bennington Banner.

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