The dynamic dental landscape presents new opportunities and challenges as the number of dentists increase. Demographics shift and the business framework of dental practices continue to advance. While there are some concern about the an aging dental workforce and whether there will be sufficient dentists to meet the present and future patient needs, statistics demonstrated that dentists in the United States are still increasing. The American Dental Association Health Policy Institute (HPI) has foreseen a blooming dentist workforce through 2035 because of an increase in the number of younger and more diverse dentists.
Further, due to a demographic shift, the business framework of dental practices has also been shifted, with the number of solo practitioners declining while participation in DSOs continues to expand. According to Modern Dental Network, solo practices are decreasing at approximately 7 percent annually, while the American Dental Association (ADA) reveals that 7.4 percent of dentists are now part of a DSO. This number is set to increase more than twice to 16.3 percent for new dentists ages 21-34. As many solo practitioners seek to revise the details of running a business, the DSOs has been estimated to persist on, overtaking a greater share of the dental marketplace.
Private equity organisations are also key in the unification of the dental industry as they continue to get hold of practices across the country, seeking to leverage on economies of scale. While the global market for dental services is extensive, less than 10 percent of dentists are associated with corporate-backed practices, advocates foresee an increase in consolidation and private investment due to the strength and consecutive growth of dental practices, as the industry is unwavered by economic transformation.
While the unification is set to occur in the dental marketplace, there will also be a constant demand for those who wish to be solo practitioners. But those who do not want to be part of the DSOs will have to adapt a new practice framework which include the possibility for independent practices to share space with other practitioners who can benefit from the partnerships to invest in technology or to manage rent. Other alternatives include the implementation of modern speciality practice focused on new treatment options or having general dentists and specialists work together in a team-based approach in a single space.
In any case, all dentists are facing challenging trends in the present marketplace, including diminishing reimbursement allowances that inadvertently increases stress on profits and enhanced competition to attract new patients.
In addition, to garner new patients in an automated world, practitioners will have to take intor consideration the implementation of both traditional and online marketing strategies. Marketing is fundamental to any business and by leveraging on digital strategies to attract new customers is important to advance dental practices in the digital age.
Regardless, providing excellent patient care is still the key of a successful practice despite the ongoing changes within the dental industry. An emphasis on establishing trust and advancing patient relationships are still the basis of long-term success.
Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – Dentistry under the theme of “Changing Paradigm in Dental Education for Future Excellence” from 4-6 April 2019 in Seoul, South Korea.