DPMCs play a role in dentistry

Dec. 1, 1998
I am writing in response to Dr. Mike Maroon`s article denigrating dental practice-management companies ("The Devil in Disguise, August). Dr. Maroon paints all DPMCs with the same brush and declares that any dentist who considers one is both demented and un-American.

I am writing in response to Dr. Mike Maroon`s article denigrating dental practice-management companies ("The Devil in Disguise, August). Dr. Maroon paints all DPMCs with the same brush and declares that any dentist who considers one is both demented and un-American.

I beg to differ!

I am in private practice and have been involved in the fight against managed care for years. Having said that, I must say that I have not met many dentists who entered their profession because they relished tackling the business-management end of dental practice. This does not make them stupid or lazy. It also doesn`t mean that they are willing to give their practice away or to deliver substandard care working in a high-volume PPO clinic. Some dentists simply are doing less than an adequate job of running the business side of their practices.

While there are many DPMCs possessing the attributes Dr. Maroon describes, there are as many approaches as there are different companies. Certainly, involvement with a DPMC will not meet the needs of every dentist. There are doctors who enjoy the challenge of running the business side of a dental practice. There also are those who already are maximizing the potential of their practices. These are practices that the doctors would have no interest in selling ... and many DPMCs would have limited interest in purchasing. Most DPMCs are interested in purchasing practices with upside potential that can be realized by revitalizing hygiene departments, tightening accounts receivable and financial arrangements, improving scheduling, and training staff. In short, they imbue these practices with the attributes of a successful practice. This benefits the dentist, the patients, and the company.

For those doctors who are less than 10 years from retiring, and those who realize that they are not making the most of their present practice situation, a DPMC just might be an answer to their prayers. We find that many of these doctors are able to decrease their patient-contact hours while their earnings actually increase. They then can bank their cash downpayment and use the monthly payment from the purchasing DPMC to invest in quality stocks or mutual funds using dollar-cost averaging. When you "run the numbers" on such a strategy, they can be pretty exciting!

I agree with Dr. Maroon that it is foolish to accept the DPMC`s stock as a portion of the practice-purchase price. It is too risky. I also agree that it is unwise to allow a DPMC to retain control of the seller`s presale accounts receivable unless a fair price is paid for them in cash at the time of sale.

I also urge a dentist considering selling his or her practice to a DPMC to do the homework. Get everything straight on the front end. Decide how much you want to practice and for how much longer. Make sure your expectations are aligned with those of the DPMC. You don`t want any unpleasant surprises, and neither does the DPMC.

A reputable DPMC`s long-term success centers around making sure that the selling dentist`s needs are met and that he or she remains happy. Why else would other doctors want to get involved?

In summary, DPMCs are neither the devil nor an angel in disguise. They are a different practice concept that will help many dentists meet their personal and professional needs.

Steve Wooten, DDS, PA

Indianola, MS

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