2017 has already brought some big changes to the dental industry. Here’s what industry experts have to say about it, as well as what they see happening in the new year. Our partners discuss the latest dental industry trends—the effect of DSOs, marketing changes, e-commerce, social media, and more.
What was one significant change you’ve seen in the dental industry in 2017?
This year, we have observed the continued impact of DSO purchasing practices.
: Practices are moving from server-based software to cloud-based systems. Providers are motivated to move to the cloud because there is a real return in increased productivity and savings.
: As a result of two outbreaks of infections related to improperly treated dental unit waterlines, there seems to be increased interest in appropriate treatment of the water in dental unit waterlines. At TMC we have included information in the training
provided for our clients.
: Lack of payment from insurance companies because of fewer benefits, the maximum benefits being reduced, and getting verification from insurance companies.
: Over the last 10 years we have seen significant changes to the dental industry. Large group practices have become the norm. One large group practice currently has over 600 offices, and others have in excess of 100 offices each. The large group practices have promoted “discounted dental procedures” such as dentures for $399.00. The larger organizations have also put a large emphasis on promoting their services through social media, as well as, promoting financing arrangements with their patients. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with different models of practice, but it has created changes in the dental industry. These large group practices offer more flexible hours, promote and advertise their location extensively, and many times offer procedures at lower cost. The individual practice is no longer competing with his “buddy” down the street for patients, graduating dentists, or traditional dental practices. Other dental practices have gone to offering a “higher end” experience for their patients. This is also a trend that is growing in popularity.
What opportunities have you seen unfold in the dental marketplace so far this year, and how have you taken advantage of them?
: We see an opportunity for the ability of dental professionals to consolidate advisors to provide a comprehensive solution where their entire picture is in focus, both for their practice and their family. Dental professionals can greatly benefit from working with an advisor that can meet all their needs and who understands their
unique situation fully.
We continue to receive requests for a private encrypted communication network that allows practices to communicate and share data for collaboration with other association members. In response to those requests, we have developed a National Health Information Exchange.
: The Dental Effluent Guidelines. The Dental Office Category regulation which is codified at 40 CFR Part 441 establishes pretreatment standards to reduce the introduction of mercury from dental offices to publicly owned treatment works. The regulation became effective June 2017 and will ultimately require most dental practices to utilize dental amalgam separators and implement best practices. TMC has provided multiple webinars to inform impacted dental practices on the requirements and implementation timeline of the regulation.
: Technology continues to play a big role in the marketplace. At Transworld Systems, we integrate with 95% of all Practice Management Systems. This advantage allows us to assist practices in addressing back office processes. We can help practices eliminate the need to re-bill patients and run aging reports. This reduces costs and streamlines cash flow and has allowed us to engage with hundreds of dentists across the state.
: Digital footprints, marketing, and tax planning are opportunities we’ve seen practices take advantage of in 2017. Today’s patients are much better educated. They are doing much more research on procedures and pricing than in the past. In most cases, “Google” can be an asset, but it can also be a liability. Professional reviews are also very important and can drive business away if they are not managed. Practices must have a laser like focus on continually managing your social footprint, and “review marketing” is no longer optional. A dentist’s level of success begins with exceptional clinical skill; however, with the recent changes to the industry, that is just the beginning. Dentists must have a well educated staff, efficient clinical practices, and a dedicated branding and marketing plan with specific dollars dedicated to each plan. The old saying, “work on your business not just in your business” has never been truer. Accumulating wealth begins with proper tax planning and efficient corporate structuring. By building a team of professionals, you can protect your assets and accumulate wealth.
What is one prediction you have for the dental industry in 2018?
: The DOL fiduciary rule’s impact will force dental practice qualified plans to move from financial generalists to retirement plan specialists.
: We see better medical coding software being introduced. Practices will have the ability to accurately file claims and recoup costs.
: Greater HIPAA focus and enforcement should be expected in the dental industry in 2018, especially as it pertains to information security.
: I see more dentists moving to DSOs as these organizations are becoming more prevalent in the dental market and allowing dentists be to be dentists, taking the heavy lifting of running a practice off their plates.
: There is no evidence that the growth trend in dental service organizations will decrease in the predictable future, and we anticipate it to continue in 2018.
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