Dentistry is at a crossroads.
Today, it is steeped in technology. From3D printing to mobile dentistry, dentistry is leveraging tech to advance care and offer faster and more efficient ways to deliver it.
What has taken longer to find its way into dentistry are the business model innovations that leverage cloud computing and mobile to deliver new ways of doing business.
We can book a ride or order food in no time, yet platforms that directly connect the stakeholders to improve the delivery of dental care have not been realized. Dental software is finding its way to the cloud and mobile apps are being used to engage patients to some degree. Unfortunately, the data and relationships are locked down with little in the way of leveraging collaboration or connected workflows to improve efficiency and deliver value for patients and providers.
The politically charged environment surrounding Covid- 19 puts trust front and center. Establishing and maintaining the trust that you have with your patients is an ongoing pursuit. Maintaining continuity of care by providing specialty procedures in-house can contribute to case acceptance and treatment success. It’s also more convenient, which should not be underestimated as a contributing factor in case acceptance. When complexity is reduced and patients feel comfortable and safe everyone benefits.
Meanwhile, a cultural shift is taking place in how career success is being defined. Amplified by the pandemic, market forces combined with enabling technologies has inspired us to reconsider how, where and when we want to work. Millennials have different values than boomers, prizing flexibility and control over ownership, while the competitive forces and economics of practice ownership for new and even established dentists is shifting. Female dentists now make up 50% of new grads and are more likely to not pursue practice ownership or full time employment.
Patient expectations magnified by the consumerization of healthcare is possibly the most important trend to adapt to. Ease of use and transparency are requisite in the interactions with patients. This trend is an opportunity to make patients more of a partner. Practices willing to confidently adapt will grow faster and retain more of their patients than practices with a more conservative approach to patient engagement.
These trends should inspire dentists to think about what makes sense for them and their patient population as a new reality takes hold.
It stands to reason that evolving demographics and shifting priorities makes the need for new business models to accommodate the new crucial reality.
The main limiting factor for dental practices to deliver care and grow are the procedures they can perform in-house. Understanding this, GP’s learn to do what procedures they can themselves. The likelihood is that this still leaves dozens of specialty procedures referred out for many practices. Why should this not be seen as a breakdown in care? It dramatically reduces the likelihood of the patient following through with treatment and jeopardizes the relationship with the referring practice. Even if the referral is handled with best practices it adds complexity and overhead to an already intimidating scenario for the patient.
Corporate dentistry and group practices have made keeping procedures in-house a priority. Understanding the benefits to the patient and the business.
By enabling collaboration between the practice, specialist, and patient the efficiency and effectiveness of the treatment process can be optimized. This can best be achieved through a networked platform that can bring real-time liquidity to the resources needed for successful collaboration. Workflows can be automated through AI where it makes sense as can communication and education.
What makes a networked platform powerful are the connections and fluidity of the data that are integrated into workflows. This can simplify finding the right specialist, and integrate the services needed to expedite planning and ensure continuity of care. Keeping patients in-house for high-value procedures, and supporting the process through smart software and virtual coordination.
Change and consolidation will continue in dentistry for the foreseeable future. That does not mean that the choices for practice owners and specialists are limited. New models will emerge combining proven technologies in unique ways to deliver better care for patients and opportunities for dental practitioners.
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- Murat Cannoyan
CEO, Patient Plus
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