The realities of dentistry

Feb. 1, 1998
Part of my job as president of The Levin Group is to analyze the future. This is not a psychic advisor`s type of process, but rather an attempt to understand the directions of dentistry by assimilating a great deal of knowledge from a number of different sources.

Roger Levin, DDS, MBA

Part of my job as president of The Levin Group is to analyze the future. This is not a psychic advisor`s type of process, but rather an attempt to understand the directions of dentistry by assimilating a great deal of knowledge from a number of different sources.

One trend in dentistry of which I am certain is that there will be fewer fee-for-service patients in the future.

I strongly believe that fee-for-service dentistry will continue to have a strong presence, but other types of dental delivery systems also will exist. Based on this futuristic trend: Practices today need to be able to offer more services per patient and close more cases.

Doing more with less

If there are fewer fee-for-service patients in the future, a dental practice will be best served by adding a number of additional services to offer these patients. It all begins with comprehensive dentistry. The comprehensive exam allows a practice to completely diagnose the needs and potential wants of each patient.

In my all-day seminar, "Increasing Case Accept-ance," I clearly explain the steps of the comprehensive exam and the impact it can have on a practice.

The comprehensive examination identifies more opportunities. It is beneficial to the patient to have a complete diagnosis, and it is interesting to the patient to know what elective services also are available. In today`s dentistry, we must combine both the clinical need and the psychological want. Most patients will have some dentistry available to them, based on this philosophy.

Once a comprehensive examination is completed, it is important to have an array of services available. General dentists and specialists should expand the scope of their practices by adding services and technologies that currently are available to patients. It is not necessary, however, to perform services that are uncomfortable or better handled by another specialist. Fortunately, we have a host of new services available and these must be incorporated into the practice.

The institutes

Recently, a number of educational institutes have emerged in dentistry. In addition to The Levin Advanced Learning Institute, which focuses strictly on management and marketing education, a number of others have begun to emerge. These institutes offer a slightly different type of education.

They focus on how to expand clinical skills and achieve a great deal of education within a very short time frame, providing the opportunity for dentists and staff to increase their clinical skills so that they can offer more services.

These institutes provide a great deal of excellent clinical information that is leading-edge. By expanding the skills available, you will be able to perform more dentistry per patient. Not only will the quality be optimal, but the practice will increase productivity, despite the fact that there are fewer fee-for-service patients. Institutes such as The Levin Advanced Learning Institute provide the management and marketing aspects of building a practice in which patients are willing to accept treatment.

The future is almost here

How soon should you begin expanding your base of skills so that you can offer more to each patient? Immediately! It is not too soon to begin to add several new services that will interest your patients. Not only do patients want cavities filled, they want to be attractive. The functional aspect of dentistry still is very significant, as the Baby-Boomer generation ages and their clinical needs increase.

The psychological aspect of dentistry has never been stronger. Americans are more concerned than ever with having a better appearance and achieving optimal health. It seems that as people age, the more concerned they are about their appearance.

They also tend to have more discretionary income to spend on dentistry.

Another major factor in today`s dentistry is having an extremely well-run business. Running a nonbusiness-oriented practice is obsolete. It is imperative that practices today begin to incorporate real business principles. The days of tweaking a system here or there or having somebody stop by to fix one area of the practice are over. The realization that you cannot fix the people in your practice, but must create outstanding repeatable systems, is becoming more important than ever before.

Anything less than this will significantly decrease the productivity and profitability of a practice.

The tip-off

The purpose of this column is to give each of you an opportunity to recognize what is coming. A true leader and visionary is able to evaluate what is happening today and make decisions based on that information. Success today is no longer a guarantee of success three years from now.

As Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric, said, "If you are not going through radical change in business today, you are dead." That was before he grew General Electric to $57 billion per year!

Now is the time for you to make these radical changes in your practice to ensure a more successful future.

Dr. Roger Levin is founder and president of The Levin Group, a national, dental-management and marketing-consulting firm. He can be reached at (410) 654-1234.

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