According to a survey conducted by the ADA’s Health Policy Institute (HPI), things are largely looking up for dentistry in the U.S.
The data was collected during the week of January 18th, and the relevant finds include:
Patient confidence is greatly increased; 88 percent report that they have already visited the dentist’s office or plan to soon.
Dental office staffing has returned to the 99 percent level; however, patient volume is still at 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
Nearly a third of dentists had raised fees in the previous month, perhaps in response to lower patient volume.
Other dentists had taken out loans, reduced team members’ hours, or changed suppliers to make the practice more economically viable.
80 percent of “employee dentists” are being fully paid.
If this looks like a mixes report card to you, you’re right. The marked decrease in volume seems to be at odds with the high percentage of patients stating that they have seen or would see a dentist.
And the number of dentists increasing fees and/or instituting cost-containment measures suggest that all is not yet well in the state of dentistry.
The Good Stuff
There’s one thing in the survey data that you can work with to increase your revenue and grow your practice. That’s the 88 percent of patients who already have or plan to soon see a dentist.
If you haven’t raised fees, but your practice is running at lower volume, you can stop asking yourself “Why are we seeing more patients?” The answer is a two-parter; either they don’t have the money, or they don’t have confidence in your practice to keep them safe.
The solution to the problem of patients who can’t pay is to get more patients who can. To attract those “better” patients, you and your practice will need to stand out and above your competitors. People with discretionary income can afford to be choosy, and you have to give them reasons to choose you instead of a competitor.
Addressing these two issues is the equivalent of “doubling down” in blackjack when you hold a pair of aces. Usually, that’s a winning strategy.
SmartBox has written extensively about what it takes for dentists to get more of the new patients they want; essentially, patients who stay, pay, and refer. The shorthand version is that 1) you let happy patients paint you as the “expert” in reviews and testimonials, and 2) your website and all other marketing has to focus on benefits to patients of choosing you rather than on you and your practice.
There’s more, of course – quite a bit more – but that’s the gist.
Confidence is something you can provide, and if you need some guidelines, check out our January 21st blog.
At this point, while there are still some obstacles to overcome, success looks more possible, even likely, than at any time since March of last year. The only question is whether you’re going to double down or cash in your “chips.”
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.