May 10, 2021
How to Stay Ahead of Current Challenges in the Dental Industry
Between changes to dental insurance, ever-growing dental school debt, and yes, the pandemic, the current dental landscape presents plenty of challenges to navigate. Most dentists also need to be business savvy on top of having the skills to pay the bills. So where do dentists stand today? Here’s how to make light of the current situation.
Dental school debt
The American Dental Association (ADA) estimates the average dental school debt has nearly tripled over the past 20 years to upward of $500,000, making it one of the highest student loan debts of any profession. This puts even more pressure on dental school graduates to pick the proper transition route when entering into a practice, whether that’s buying an existing dental practice or starting from scratch. However, there are also more opportunities for continuing education online rather than in a traditional classroom setting.
Equipment and software are changing the way dentists do business for the better in terms of efficiency, lowering costs and productivity, including CAD technology, digital radiography, practice analytics related to key performance indicators and software solutions, such as practice management software and automated patient engagement software. Another option is to outsource many administrative functions to allow the practice to grow without the financial burden of bringing on more full-time staff members.
There are no dental practices without insurance companies, unfortunately, since they tend to focus more on the bottom line and profit rather than patient care and the relationships with dentists. It creates an antagonistic environment that is nearly unavoidable for the practicing dentist since nearly 80% of the population is covered under some sort of dental plan, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. What’s more, employer-funded dental insurance is decreasing due to an increasingly older population, gig economy workers and layoffs and cutbacks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of the never-ending insurance battle, new models of patient payment are entering into the dentistry space, such as pay-as-you-go, full prepayment discounts, third-party financing and in-house payment plans, all of which make treatment options for patients more attainable. Dental practices are even beginning to explore the option of in-house membership plans for uninsured patients.
Contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies for more guidance on how to navigate the ever-changing tide of the dental industry.