Is your practice prepared for the future?

How consumer-driven dentistry is creating new opportunities

Putting power in the hands of the consumer is occurring in every industry. This trend is now manifesting itself in dentistry in many ways. It is also generating new opportunities.

By putting the power in the consumers’ hands, channeling the consumers’ intention and standing for the consumers’ outcomes, the power is shifting from the provider (dentist) to the consumer (patient).

How will organized dentistry react to this shift in power? What impact will it have on dental practices small and large? How will insurance companies react to a consumer-driven dentistry?

Just like Uber impacted transportation or Amazon disrupted retail shopping, how will preventive-centric dentistry— patients being able to self-assess their dental condition—affect the dental practice? There are companies positioning themselves to disintermediate the dominant power brokers, dentists and insurance companies and champion patients, which will directly and powerfully impact the future of dentistry.

Dentistry is no longer undergoing evolutionary change, which is simply an extension of the past. Evolutionary change is gradual and incremental and embellishes what already is. The system stays basically the same (i.e. a rotary phone evolving into a push button phone).

Dentistry is undergoing revolutionary change—change that is rapid, occurring all at once and fundamentally altering the very nature of the system. Consumer-driven dentistry will cause a revolutionary change in dentistry.

How changing patient expectations will impact your practice

Viewing patients as consumers can help your dental practice succeed. The prevalent model of dental practice now in place is practices are completely built around the dentists. Dentist-centric. Scheduling, treatment planning, systems, structures, staffing, procurement, location and IT are all built to enhance the preferences and performance of dentists.

But changes are beginning to occur in dentistry. Extended hours, better and easier payment plans, online appointment scheduling, text confirmations—and these are only the very beginning. The question that dentists should be asking themselves is what would a practice look and feel like if it were wholly built and operated around patients?

First, you’d need to have a better understanding of who patients are today and who they will be in the future.

Patients are moving from the passive to the active side of the equation. They are moving from submissive to authoritative. They are taking much more control of their health care. Why? Because they are connected to massive technology that gives them access, advice and understanding.

Patients are thinking and acting much differently than in the past. Patients are adding a new persona: the mindset and skill set of a consumer. They are using technology to make smart consumer choices, and, at the same time, they are patients. A melding of the two—patient and consumer—is occurring. The new term is “patsumers,” a potent mixture of a patient and a consumer.

Article by: Dr. M. Cooper

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