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The world's changing and dentists need to implement strategies that will keep up - especially if they're currently solo practitioners in fee-for-service practices.

Fred Joyal, the author of "Becoming Remarkable: Creating a Dental Practice Everyone Talks About" identifies two trends that are causing heartburn - and shares specific ideas that could help.

 

In this video interview with Amol Nirgudkar, CEO of Patient Prism, Joyal says dentistry is in a time of dramatic shifts. 

He's been working with dentists for more than 30 years, and he sees two primary changes:

  • It's becoming more difficult to maintain a solo practice.
  • It's becoming harder to run a strictly fee-for-service practice.

Fortunately, there are some solutions that can help dentists change their business model to address these changes.

 

Create a Remarkable Patient Experience

Dentists have more tools than ever to help them attract new patients and wow them once they come into the practice. 

But dentists need to change how they think about the patient experience. It begins long before the patient ever comes into the practice. It begins with impressing them enough to make the appointment.

"It used to be that somebody would say, 'I love this dentist' and the person would say, 'Great, give me their number'," says Joyal. "Now they say, "Great, let me look them up online'."

Dentists need to make sure they have what Joyal calls the digital triangle: great online reviews, great social media, and a great website. Dentists should take a minute to google their own practice and see what comes up - and then create a strategy for improving their online presence.

 

Maximize Your Facility

Patients don't always understand the complexity of the clinical work they need done, but they remember how you and your team made them feel. 

"They appreciate the experience of being a patient," Joyal says. If you can make it as convenient as possible for them to get the care they need, then you have a higher chance of maintaining a private practice. 

Since more people have daytime jobs and may find it difficult to take off from work, dentists need to adjust.

"Understand that you have this surgical suite with Cone Beam and CadCam and eventually 3D printing and who knows what else," Joyal explains. "It's impractical and inefficient to use this only 30 hours a week, so you need to bring in an associate and use it more often. Patients want it to be convenient for them, and that means Saturdays and evenings."

 

More Dentists Accept Dental Plans

One of the biggest trends in dentistry now is the increase in dental practices that participate in managed care. 

"In 2000, everyone was trying to drop all of their plans. Now, 90% take at least one plan," Joyal says. 

There are a few reasons for this change. One, more people are paying for dental insurance and want to be able to use their dental benefits. Two, being in-network helps build your patient base - and that's important whether you're a new dentist or an experienced one who is looking to sell in a few years.

"You have to look at how the world's changing and have a strategy to deal with that," says Joyal. "Don't think you can just keep doing the same thing for 10 years and have a sellable practice."

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