Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor
I have just finished watching the American Dental Association`s National Public Awareness Campaign video. I was impressed by the message, "For the look that will last." It is a simple, yet powerful, message that seems to have the ability to appeal to all ages. Be sure to take the time to see the presentation that the ADA is providing. This is the only way that you can make an informed decision on this program that will be voted on by the ADA House of Delegates at the annual meeting in San Francisco next fall.
I have followed the debate on a national advertising campaign for years. I would imagine that most dentists have done the same. I have never looked upon an outside source of advertising as any more than an awareness and educational program. I have never felt that an advertising program would be the "savior of dentistry" as some national speakers would have you believe.
One of the problems will be to measure the success of the program. Do we measure it by the number of new patients that come to the office because of what they see in the media? What about the increased dentistry that we do on patients of record because of an increased awareness of dentistry due to the advertising seen?
This is not the first time that a national advertising campaign has come so close to implementation. I seem to recall a program that featured James Whitmore as the spokesman and a slogan that had something to do with "sparkle." I think it was scrapped because of lack of support.
The preparation for this attempt seems much more complete. The successes and failures of existing state programs have been studied and incorporated into the plan where appropriate. The agency that was selected to do the program was chosen based on its creativity and how much they wanted the job. I think it is very important to hire a company that really has the desire to make this program the very best it can be. To me, this is an indication that they want the program to succeed and are willing to make midcourse changes as needed to strengthen the program.
So now it comes down to this: Are we willing "to put our money where our mouth is?" I have been listening to the ADA-bashing for years. I have heard all the arguments for not supporting a national organization, but how can you mount a national advertising campaign without one?
Don`t be swayed by a lot of emotional rhetoric; look at the facts. It comes down to this: As an ADA member, are you willing to spend about 85 cents a day for three years to find out if a national public awareness campaign will work? I think we would be foolish to do otherwise!
A series of changes for Dental Economics begin with this issue. The annual practice survey will now appear in the May issue, and the fee survey (normally in the May issue) will now be in the December issue. The thinking behind this is that dentists are usually looking at fees and salaries at the end of the year, and we want the information to be current.
Dr. Charles Blair and I discussed the results of this year`s practice survey at length before collaborating on the article you will find in this issue. I consider Dr. Blair a great source of information and guidance on the relative data in a dental practice. Some great information is contained in the article. I hope you will integrate some of it into your practice.
On another subject, as editor of Dental Economics, I believe that the private, fee-for-service model serves dentistry and our patients well. The editorial policy of this magazine supports the private fee-for-service model. However, it is my belief that dentists must make informed choices in today`s business climate. I will strive to provide the articles that you need to make those choices.
As a dentist, I believe in establishing a trusting relationship with my patients and then treating them as I would a member of my family. Over the years, this philosophy has worked well for me. I hope that this clears up any confusion that may have existed about Dental Economics` policy.