With inflation driving the costs of inventory, wages, and lab fees through the roof, solo dentists are feeling the pressure. Practice owners across the country report feeling the strain of increasing prices1 as they face the challenge of providing affordable quality care.
For many dentists looking to do more than simply stay afloat in this harsh economic climate, the answer lies in a strategic partnership with a dental group. By joining forces with like-minded professionals, dentists can relieve the strain of managing in a continually changing postpandemic economy. Here are some key benefits of partnership:
As inflation rises at rates as high as 8%–10% per year,2 dentists feel the effects on their bottom line faster than revenue increases can keep up. Costs for essential equipment repairs, PPE, labor, and marketing continue to increase, while insurance companies pay the same low rates they’ve been paying for years.
Tweaks like offering online bill pay or selling home-care products may offer a small revenue boost, but there’s no guarantee these improvements will keep up with the current rate of inflation. In a partnership, your practice can often take advantage of discounts on everything from repairs and supplies to lab fees and marketing costs.
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On the revenue side, well-run groups have honed their ability to negotiate with insurance carriers and perform “network optimization.” This means you’ll benefit from increased rates from the in-network patients you already serve. This is often more effective than third-party services, because the group can use their scale in the negotiations and perform network optimization continually, rather than once every four or five years.
Staff recruiting and retention in dentistry has been a growing issue for years, and the COVID pandemic made it even worse. While labor shortages are partially to blame, the compounding challenges of inflation are driving up wages as well, making it more difficult for practices to hire and keep high-level talent at salaries that a private practice can support.
According to a report from the ADA Health Policy Institute,1 94.5% of surveyed private practice dentists find it extraordinarily challenging or very challenging to recruit hygienists. Another 30.2% can’t maximize their appointment schedule due to trouble filling staff positions.
A partnership offers access to a full-time recruiting team with specialized skills for finding and hiring the right team members. Support groups can offer comprehensive benefits and competitive pay, which can make joining your practice more attractive to new recruits.
Most importantly, being part of a partnership often means more professional development and greater connection and growth opportunities. This leads to increased satisfaction and long-term retention, both keys to creating an outstanding patient experience and an environment where dentists can do their best work.
Accessible dental treatment
With costs for treatment increasing at unprecedented rates, as high as 1.9% in a single month,3 many patients believe they can’t afford necessary care. Without support, some practice owners are unable to offer payment options that fit their patients’ needs.
Joining a support organization can give patients access to resources that make dental treatment more affordable. Strategic partnerships with third-party financing providers can make costly procedures accessible to patients without forcing your practice to incur unreasonable financing fees.
Could a partnership help you?
Can you imagine practicing without the pressures of inflation? When you join the right partnership, you can have a more fulfilling experience and stay true to the reasons you became a dentist in the first place.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the June 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
- Economic outlook and emerging issues in dentistry; week of November 14, 2022. ADA Health Policy Institute. 2022. https://www.ada.org/-/media/project/ada-organization/ada/ada-org/files/resources/research/hpi/nov2022_hpi_economic_outlook_dentistry_report_main.pdf
- Consumer prices up 8.5 percent for year ended March 2022. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. TED: The Economics Daily. April 18, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/consumer-prices-up-8-5-percent-for-year-ended-march-2022.htm
- Garvin J. Dental services affected by country’s high inflation. American Dental Association. July 19, 2022. https://www.ada.org/publications/ada-news/2022/july/dental-services-affected-by-countrys-high-inflation