You’ve likely heard the buzz about corporate dentistry and how the profession is changing fairly rapidly. Some forecast doom and gloom for the privately owned practice. Others refuse to believe anything is changing at all. The reality lies somewhere in between.
The rise in corporate dentistry will bring advantages to the public and the dental profession. Above all, this climate change means increased competition for all. Competition is good. In some instances, I anticipate it will change things for the better.
First, this change will push us all to focus on quality of service. Our goal is always to care for patients, make a positive impression (no pun intended) and keep patients returning and referring. In order to do this, it may require more efficient communication, stronger teamwork and a positive patient experience. This will encourage us to utilize technology for increased accuracy and comfort. It’ll require that we hire and train the best fit employees that align with our own core values.
The second imminent change is the acceptance of marketing. Many dentists take pride in building a practice “on no marketing”. Others have learned to embrace it for attracting the right kind of new patient for the practice. They’ve also embraced it to accelerate the growth of the practice, which happens naturally by word of mouth. Marketing serves more than one purpose. It’s main function is to educate the community on topics relating to the importance of oral health. In some instances, this information can save a life. Treating sleep apnea, screening for oral cancer and preventing periodontal disease can all extend one’s life-span and quality of life. Besides important education, marketing also allows the patients to see their options in providers. As corporate dentistry moves into town, despite popular belief they do not always have an advantage in marketing. Having an in-house marketing department does not always mean higher quality or more effective marketing. It also doesn’t necessarily lend to a higher marketing budget, as some may expect. There’s power in group buying to a point, but with the rise of social media and internet marketing, anyone can compete and see positive results when partnered with the right marketing team. As patients search Google and ask friends on Facebook for a recommendation, they will likely choose you if your marketing messages match their personal needs.
If corporate dentistry becomes too focused on profit and less focused on service, like any business, it will suffer. Some will always seek the best, while others may seek the cheapest. There is room for the privately owned dental practice that stands out, does something special and delivers unique value.
Overall, change can be concerning. If we embrace it, prepare for it and even create it, it can elevate our profession.