Friday, June 16, 2017

Canadian Dentists Turn to Financial Practice Management CE, Patient Financing and Promotion on Social Media as Dental Practice Consolidation Continues



Toronto, ON – June 6, 2017 – The fundamental shift in the make-up of the Canadian dental practice detected in previous reports is continuing, according to results from the DIAC (Dental Industry Association of Canada) Twenty-First Annual Future of Dentistry Survey. All of the following points may reflect on the impact of the current economic situation on the dental practice in Canada:
  •   There are now more dentists per practice on average, with a record 13% of practices with five or more dentists. This was 3.4% in 2016 and an average of 6.3% the last 14 years.
  •   There are now more operatories per practice (72% of respondents had four or more operatories. Of these, an all-time high of 30% had five or more). Almost 1⁄4 (22%) of respondents were planning on adding at least one operatory in the next two years.
  •   The number of hygiene days per practice is increasing overall (44% of respondents in 2017 had 5 or more hygiene days per week, as compared to 40.4% last year and the average of 38.5% the last ten years).
  •   At the same time, the average number of patients treated per day continues to decline. While influenced by specialist respondents, on an overall basis, dentists treated 12 patients in an average day as compared to the average of 12.5 patients over the last ten years.83% stated they treated less than 15 patients a day (as opposed an average of 77.5% over the last four years).
    It is little wonder that “Getting More Patients” was the top challenge that respondents intended to address in 2017 (as well as the Top Metric for Success in the opinion of 83%), with “Financial/paying bills/overhead” a close second.
    Many dentists have responded by moving into Multi-practice (Group Practice). While the majority (59%) of respondents stated they were in a solo practice, more than a third (36%) were now in a group practice and a further 4% in Corporate dentistry. The two key advantages of a multi-practice structure attracting those who were in that type of practice were Associate Support (51%) and Buying Power (30%).
    Dentists are also now focusing their Practice Management CE activities on Financial aspects. While all four of the highest rated Practice Management topics for 2017 related to building the business of the practice (Ranked in order from highest: Revenue Enhancement/Expense Management; Fraud Protection, Marketing the Practice, and Communication/Case Presentation), the top focus has switched from Marketing to “the Numbers”, which may be a reflection on the economic situation. At the same time, member in Study Clubs was up overall; with 45.1% of respondents stated they belonged to one or more as compared to the average 37.9% of the previous eight years.
The majority (65%) of dental practices now offer patient financing in some fashion. Almost one-half (47%) of respondents offered in-house financing while 19% used third party financing.
Social Media continues to climb the list of Practice-Building Tools utilized at 45% of respondents, now second to “Asking for referrals” and progressively trending upward from 13% in 2012 when the question was first asked. This movement to on-line promotion mirrors where dental patients are telling practitioners they are getting information on dental treatment options. According to the survey, Internet achieved an all-time high rating and was ranked as the top patient source for the second straight year. This was followed by the more traditional sources of Family members, friends, etc. and Dentist/Dental Team presentations.
A total of 335 practicing Canadian dentists responded to this year’s survey with a good proportional distribution across all regions of the country. Based on this response rate, overall 2017 survey results have an accuracy of +/- 5.4% 19 times out of 20.
Source: Twenty-First Annual Future of Dentistry Survey
Dental Industry Association of Canada / Eric P. Jones & Associates Inc.

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