Dentists have been taught to regard dentistry as wholly professional and to ignore its twin side, business, without which there can be no professional work to do.
Dr T. Ledyard Smith “Some Mistaken Professional Teachings”
Dental Digest 1911 (Jan–Feb); Vol 17:27
When it comes to recognizing the paramount importance of the business side of dentistry, in over a century it would seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, with dental Cassandras predicting the imminent demise of the fee-for-service practice, independent clinicians are facing a hard truth. Neither their advanced clinical skills nor their command of the latest technology will save them from the impact of market forces that would commoditize dentistry down to the level of a big box retailer’s optical department. There is only one thing that can save the fee-for-service practice, and that is the individual clinician’s business acumen.
It’s time to ask yourself some tough questions. Is your business savvy as refined as your clinical expertise? Do you pay as much attention to your finances, both personal and professional, as you do to planning your vacation? Even if you can say yes to both, are you nevertheless deep in a maze of uncertainty and confusion when it comes to practice growth and profitability in the face of all the changes in our industry? There’s no denying it’s overwhelming: so many unknowns, so many twists and turns. One can become paralyzed into inactivity, or conversely, rush ahead without a clear purpose or a concrete plan.
In my view, reports of the death of the fee-for-service practice are greatly exaggerated. Our profession is still filled with promise, but we must not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead. The 2019 Symposium is dedicated to exploring all the avenues that lead out of the maze and into a sustainable future.
Michael Cohen, DDS, MSD, FACD