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Dental Economics 'brought reality to our dreams'

Jan. 1, 2003
First and foremost, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Blaes on being a part of one of the best dental magazines available to our profession.

First and foremost, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Dr. Blaes on being a part of one of the best dental magazines available to our profession. I look forward to receiving Dental Economics and reading through it each month.

I am a recent graduate (1999) of the University of Illinois Dental School. I was an associate for three years in a small town at the northwestern tip of Illinois — Freeport. That is where my story begins.

You see, my husband, who also graduated from the University of Illinois in 1998, decided to take the position in Freeport. He saw it as a wonderful opportunity to treat patients and do all types of dentistry. Six months later, his sister (a 1997 graduate of the University of Detroit — Mercy) joined the practice, followed by me four months after that. We all worked together side by side in this practice for three years.

It was during this time that we envisioned what we were capable of. We realized that it was possible for the three of us to work together under one roof as a family. We had similar ideas about how we wanted a practice to be, and we shared similar practice philosophies. Thus began the inception of our dream office. We studied, we read, and we researched. What was it that people wanted and needed? How could we provide that? How could we pay for it? What was our timeline?

An interesting thing happened. I came across a new feature in your magazine — "The New Dentist" by Drs. Matt and Ann Bynum. I cut out the article and showed it to my husband and sister-in-law. I said, "These are the people we need to be like. We should email them." So, I did just that. Matt and Ann responded immediately. They were so informative! In Matt's email, he told us to call him. He gave me his office phone number, his cell phone number, and his home phone number! I was in awe! How could this person be so interested and willing to help? He didn't even know me.

I had my sister-in-law phone Matt (she's a little more assertive than I am). Matt invited us to Simpsonville, S.C., to visit with him, Ann, and their staff. He said, "You just have to see it to understand how it works."

We did it. We all hopped on a plane and went down to South Carolina. Our experience with Matt and Ann Bynum has made an everlasting impression on our lives. We saw firsthand what a dental office could offer to its patients. We knew that's what we wanted, but going to South Carolina gave us specific direction. Matt and Ann were motivating and full of positive energy, not to mention their sensational team. They guided us in the right direction. They are a tremendous inspiration to us and will continue to be. Thank you, Matt! Thank you, Ann!

We are now opening up an office of our own. We still keep in contact with the Bynums and inform them of the updates. We look forward to having them in Chicago for our grand opening, which will take place in early 2003. I think it would be a great honor to have our office showcased as an "office of the month" in Dental Economics. After all, it was the magazine that brought reality to our dreams.
Sandra Klapp Aristodemo, DDS
Glendale Heights, Ill.

A formula of greed

While enjoying some articles in Dental Economics and being amused by others, I was offended by the "Chain of Value" interview in November's issue.

Dr. Barotz throws a few numbers out in regard to hygiene, plumbers' and carpenters' wages, and attorneys' fees, and then arbitrarily comes up with the idea that dental services are worth $1,000 per hour. He then goes on to say that raising fees 30 to 50 percent is a great way to free up one's schedule while still making big bucks. I would daresay if his grocer, bartender, restaurant, physician, hospital, milkman, dental repair tech, dental supplier, laboratory technician, front-desk person, dental assistant, hygienist, or anyone else in his "food chain" did the same — which impacted costs to him — he would scream bloody murder. I know that his response to his own employees demanding 30 to 50 percent more is that they are not in business for themselves, but are his employees. But we, as dentists, are also employees, with hundred or thousands of employers — our patients.

Being a board member on a medical insurance company that covers dentists and their employees in our state, I see firsthand what runaway costs in the medical world have done to our health-care system. The "what the market will bear" mentality contributes to the degradation of the system.

As dentists, we are obliged to be profitable to remain in business. As health-care professionals, I believe it is our duty not to take advantage of the public. I practice in a small town in the mountains of Colorado. I started here with one employee and am proud of what we have grown into — a two-dentist, eight-employee practice. Both my partner and I enjoy good incomes while working 25 to 35 hours per week, which allows us to enjoy the quality of life that a rural area can offer. I believe we serve our community well, and charge fees that are as close to being fair both to us and to our clientele as we can make them. While sensitive to the bottom line, I am also sensitive to the needs of my patients. If dentists out there took Dr. Barotz's advice on charging what the market would bear, think how many of our loyal patients would be left to find a new dentist, or just flat out could not afford care because of this formula of greed.
David Lurye, DDS
Winter Park, Colo.

Dr. Barotz responds:
Dear Dr Lurye:
I am perplexed as to why you would be "offended" by my outlook on one way to practice dentistry. Obviously, what I propose is not for every practitioner, but it certainly works for me.

There are many different models as to how the business of dentistry can be conducted and you are free to choose the one that suits you and your patients best.

You are choosing to serve the masses and that is totally OK; indeed, it is a good way to practice. I choose to be higher priced and to offer my services to those who are willing to pay for the level of care and amenities I provide. My practice is insurance independent and I am proud of that. However, too many dentists have allowed insurance companies to dictate what they should charge; those fees have in no way kept up with the costs of other purchases that individuals make. We as dentists have had our fees beaten down by insurance companies whose top executives are mega millionaires. Where do those salaries come from?

It is interesting that you accuse me of being greedy in the face of the obvious double standard the insurance companies live by. I for one am proud of the care I provide for my patients and do not feel that they are being overcharged. My practice is in Downtown Denver and you choose to practice in the resort town of Winter Park. My model could not work where you are located ... but why does it offend?
Charles S. Barotz, DDS
Denver, Colo

A favorable take

Dear Dr. Barotz:
I just received my copy of Dental Economics and wanted to congratulate you on the "Chain of Value" interview (Dental Economics; November, pages 104 to 106).

The interview was nothing short of excellent! I applaud you for continuing to educate dentists by practicing at the highest standard of excellence. Dentists like you help our profession move forward.
Roger Levin, DDS, MBA, FACD
Owings Mills, Md.

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