What are the Mega-trends that have
the potential to change dentistry forever?
We believe these areas will have the greatest impact:
*Government Regulations of OSHA compliance and HIPAA
*Dental Insurance Changes
*Availability of Well Trained Staff
*Reduced State Funding for Dental School Education
Government regulation in dentistry has gradually increased over the last 20
years. Through Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations
and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations regarding conditions of the practice environment. Initially these regulations resulted from fears that developed in the mid-1980s, when AIDS was first identified as a major, national public health problem. HIPAA and OSHA compliance comprise two-to-three percent of overhead each for the average dental practice.
Projections have been made that in the next five years, an additional 10
percent of Americans will be covered by dental insurance. Dental insurance is
one of the most popular benefits sought by employees and has often been used as
“benefits in lieu of raises” from employers. An important fact to keep in mind with this 10 percent of individual increase over the next 5 years is the fact that these newly insured patients will seek out practices that participate in their plans. Insurance coverage will be a key factor in selecting a practice, regardless of the dentist’s clinical skills or the ability of staff to provide a positive patient experience. Contradictorily, it is important to remember that as more patients become insured, maximum allowable benefits, for most insurance companies, are not increasing. Practice profitability will be greatly affected by these issues, and dentists must be prepared to deal with them.
Availability of Trained Staff
Well-trained staff, with extensive knowledge of dental practices and how they
operate, is becoming more difficult to find. The staff also contributes to the overall
quality of patient care and customer service. Therefore, the practice must have
a strong, well-trained staff in order to succeed. It is estimated that over the next five
years, 70 percent of staff members will have a three-year turnover rate. When considering the loss in productivity from every staff member who leaves (productivity lost from the position being vacated, plus productivity lost while a new hire is being trained), it becomes possible that dentists can lose $500,000 to $1 million worth of productivity during their careers simply because of staff turnover. However, this can be mitigated by the implementation of documented business systems covering every operating system of the practice and cross-training of team members. This can reduce training time and lower losses.
Reduced State Funding for Dental School Education
Based on 1990 to 2000 data, state support for dental schools has not kept up with
inflation. This problem is made worse by financial problems of state supported dental schools and the effect of the national economic slow-down that started in 2000 and the large deficits in state budgets. Dental Schools have been affected states reducing budgets for higher education. In addition, the number of vacant clinical full-time faculty positions has increased, (many faculty are leaving academia for private practice), and student debt at graduation has grown. Because of these problems, a crisis, or at least a pending crisis, is imminent.
Over the next few years, these trends will continue to develop and reshape themselves. However, a concentrated focus on them now will determine whether their effect on your practice is positive or negative.
Business and Dentistry is dedicated to keeping you apprised of these issues and effects on your practice. Over the next upcoming eNewsletters, we will help give you tools for adapting to these situations.