There has been a lot of writing in recent times covering broad areas of dentistry and practice, but one important area seems to be overlooked – mega trends in the dental profession. Today we live in a rapidly changing society and there is a lot of legislation that could completely change the landscape of practice, hence the need to optimize performance to adapt to these changing times.
It is necessary to differentiate between mega-trends and micro-trends in the dental sub-sector. Micro-trends refer to minor developments that affect the way dentistry is performed. Micro-trends affect the way certain tasks are performed, but they do not change the fundamentals of dental care.
On the other hand, it should be understood that mega trends have a permanent impact on the way the practice is conducted. The most popular mega trends are: OHS compliance, reduced availability of dental staff, decreased funding for dental education, and ensuring that AHPRA requirements are met, to name a few. While most dental professionals are aware of micro-trends, they have an obligation to understand mega-trends and respond to them appropriately.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a gradual increase in the number of government regulations in dentistry. The increase in government regulation is largely due to occupational health and safety regulations, commonly referred to as OHS. These regulations were formulated in the mid-1980s following the discovery of AIDS and its identification as a major public health problem.
AHPRA is the governing body of the dental industry with ALL of the healthcare practices required to meet their changing standards.
Dental coverage as a mega trend is on the horizon. Over the next 10 years, more and more Australians will purchase dental insurance or have it provided by their employers. As patients covered by insurance plans will be looking for practices that participate, which hopefully most already do. As the number of people covered by dental insurance increases, the maximum benefits will remain the same and will have a huge impact on the overall profitability of the practice.
Diagnosis and treatment
Technologies and materials are constantly changing and improving, as we know, and it is important to be up to date with these advancements. Why – not just to perform top quality, high quality treatments, but to have a distinct advantage in the market.
The challenge for many practitioners is that around 80% of appointments are still for one-time dental treatments, a figure that is only a mere 6% reduction from 20 years ago. The only way to reverse these statistical numbers is to adapt to mega trends in diagnostics and also in treatment. A large percentage of appointments require more in-depth diagnosis and comprehensive treatment than is currently evident. Do you recognize the opportunity to remain not only more productive and precise in diagnosis, but also profitable? When a practitioner makes a more complete diagnosis, a duty of care is implemented and several hundred dollars worth of treatment can be identified. I call it a win / win. I am not suggesting that you perform procedures on your patients to earn extra money, it is just a matter of taking a closer look at what may be needed. When the treatment of a single tooth is drastically reduced, there is a greater chance that more income will be generated while remaining careful of the best interests of the patient.
With choices in implant dentistry, occlusal dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and simple services such as teeth whitening, many comprehensive diagnostic and treatment regimes can be identified for each patient. A firm that offers a wide range of services is in a better position to take advantage of this trend and improve its profits in a shorter time frame.
It should be understood that dentistry has evolved beyond drilling and filling and aspires to achieve a more restorative effect. There is now much more chance that the majority of dental procedures will soon rely on pharmaceutical solutions and diagnostic tests as a necessity to produce the best results for patients. Among the expected pharmaceutical solutions are the use of chemicals to treat periodontal disease. In general, biomedical choices for health care are increasing rapidly, and dental care is no exception. Biomedical developments should prompt dentists to look for ways to become more productive and increase their profitability.
Each year it becomes more and more difficult to recruit a dental expert with in-depth knowledge, skills and training. Some practices are known to advertise certain key positions for months before finding the right candidate. This seems especially evident in key positions like example practice management. It seems increasingly difficult to hire a qualified candidate who also has good time management, organizational and personnel / service skills. Our company expects the best from our professionals these days, and with good reason. If we practice a good work ethic and charge for a service, we have an obligation to provide that service to the best of our ability on many levels. Every business needs to keep people coming through the door. By not doing your best or creating a good team spirit, there will be a negative impact on productivity and performance. The result – the “snowball effect” will occur and the quality of patient care will be continuously reduced, possibly causing your practice to spiral downward. As a dental professional, you are required by law to uphold a duty of care that goes beyond simply performing procedures on your patients. We are bound to give people top quality service and that means finding top quality staff no matter how long it takes