Get some help in adjusting fees

Feb. 1, 1998
Every dentist should take a long hard look at his or her fee schedule. How exactly do you determine a fee increase? Unfor-tunately, many practitioners overlook an annual adjustment and, at best, adjust fees only every few years. Twenty years ago, a 50 percent overhead was commonplace. Today, the average general practitioner is fighting an overhead of 65 to 70 percent. Obviously, our profession has not kept up with

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor

e-mail: [email protected]

What are you doing about your fees for 1998?

Every dentist should take a long hard look at his or her fee schedule. How exactly do you determine a fee increase? Unfor-tunately, many practitioners overlook an annual adjustment and, at best, adjust fees only every few years. Twenty years ago, a 50 percent overhead was commonplace. Today, the average general practitioner is fighting an overhead of 65 to 70 percent. Obviously, our profession has not kept up with

the cost of doing business. We as practitioners have simply not acted as wise businessmen. Instead, we have become fearful of the impact a fee increase might have and ultimately paved a road for ourselves over the years to lower profitability.

I asked Dr. Charles Blair, one of our editors and a popular speaker on practice economics, what practice management decision impacted him the most in his 10 years of private practice. He said that it was his casual, "seat of his pants" approach to fee increases. He made his decision simply by talking to another doctor in his city without any idea of whether that doctor`s fees were low, medium or high. How many of us have done the same thing or worse?

It is critical, despite your fears and reservations, that you review and adjust your fees at least on an annual basis. Many of you may need professional help to assist you in appropriately positioning your fees. Dr. Blair recently shared a new computer program that he has developed to analyze fees, as well as the procedure mix in a dental practice.

It is important that you know your numbers. On a relative basis, you may find that some of your current fees need to be rebalanced significantly upwards, while others may be in alignment. If you need professional help, there are companies that provide this important fee information for our industry. A little effort on your part can result in thousands of dollars added to your bottom line!

I am very pleased to introduce a new member of the Dental Economics family. Dr. Lawrence J. Pearson has joined us and will write a quarterly column on Updating Continuing Education. Unless you are a meeting planner or a speaker, you are probably asking, "Who is Dr. Pearson?"

Larry is a general practitioner in Connecticut who attends more dental meetings and seminars than any other dentist in the country. He is the editor and publisher of a respected bi-monthly newsletter, CE Update. His primary purpose is the evaluation of speakers and dental meetings in terms of their effectiveness on the wet-gloved dentist practicing in his or her private practice. His column will help you to get the most out of your time spent on continuing education.

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