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According to a November 16th poll reported in the ADA News, dental appointments have declined by 4 percent overall over the last few months. The current average nationally is 76 percent of pre-COVID levels, with more than a third of practices reporting between 51-75 percent of maximum volume.

A slight decline, while not encouraging, may not sound all that bad. But the COVID landscape has changed considerably in the last month. 

On the bright side, the first COVID-19 vaccinations using the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine happened yesterday. Approval for the Moderna vaccine, which doesn’t require extreme refrigeration, is anticipated this week or next. In its report, the ADA News noted, “Development of a vaccine remains an important part of bringing the remaining patient base back in to the dental office.”

On the darker side, the pandemic is hitting critical mass even as this is written, and lockdowns are popping up around the country to try to slow the spread of the disease. The extent of lockdown or stay at home orders that may occur isn’t at all clear. Some governors are adamant that they won’t impose any further restrictions, but circumstances may well cause them to rethink that decision.

Coping Mechanisms

Also from the ADA News report, “...practices not affiliated with a DSO have been more likely to raise fees or borrow from a bank.” It’s clear that having to run at less than full volume is hitting small dental practices hard. 

The longer-term outlook is good, given the roll-out of the vaccines, but you still have to make it from now until then. Interest rates remain at or near historic lows, so borrowing may be a viable strategy. Increasing your rates, however, may backfire if one or more of your competitors is able to maintain a lower fee schedule.

What’s Your “Thrival” Plan For 2021?

The “known unknown” of the situation are these: How quickly will the vaccine get into enough arms? How much of an impact will vaccination have on the current infection and mortality trends? How soon will patient confidence in the safety of your dental practice be restored?

It would be good to have a “battle plan” that could account for these unknowns, but that's a time-consuming thing to put together yourself. Fortunately you don’t have to. SmartBox will do it for you.

Schedule your Practice Growth Call today. It’s 45 minutes of your time in exchange for a completely personalized Roadmap that will help your practice navigate the “known unknowns” and thrive in 2021.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.

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