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The Future Business Trends in Dentistry

Lynne Nelson of Columbia Bank, a WSDA preferred lender, shares “Business Trends” that she and her team are seeing in the Pacific NW.
Lynne Nelson of Columbia Bank, a WSDA preferred lender, shares “Business Trends” that she and her team are seeing in the Pacific NW.

The world of dentistry is evolving and with it comes new business models in general dentistry. That’s not to say that the stand-alone solo provider general dentists are a thing of the past, but I am seeing some new business trends too. I offer you a look at some general dentists that are thinking outside the box. They are using technology in such a way that allows them more efficiency while maintaining the relationship based dental practice and some are adding value to their offices by offering additional services.

Larger Footprints: Dental practices are expanding! Instead of seeing the traditional 4 treatment rooms with 1 or 2 hygienist some are going with 6 to 8 treatment rooms with added hygiene and specialty rooms such as an oral surgery suite. This allows for an oral surgeon, endodontist, periodontist, or orthodontist to come into the practice to treat the patients on a part time basis. Often times it is a win-win-win with patients not having to go to a different location, practitioners can keep some of the production in house and the specialist doesn’t have the usual overhead that comes with having their own location.   

Better Technology: You once rarely saw the cone beam outside of a prosthodontist, periodontist or oral surgeon’s office. Now as general practitioners armed with continuing education take on more procedures such as implant placement, complex prosthodontic and orthognathic cases we are beginning to see them more and more in the general dental office. Most offices are heading in the direction of full digital integration (Website integrated with practice software and constant contact, text message reminders, appointment scheduling, referral tracking).

Extended Services: Along with implant placement and complex prosthodontic cases we are seeing practitioners consider in-office lab work with a lab technician to help with retainers, appliances and more. There are more dentists now educating themselves in the areas of sleep apnea and facial pain and are able to offer options for patients with needs in these areas. We see offices inviting other professionals to join their teams such as licensed nutritionist wanting to practice nutritional counseling. 

Expanded Spa procedures: While the paraffin hand dip with gloves and hot towels have been around for some time, some practitioners are taking it to a whole new level by dovetailing spa treatments such as upright chair massage and reflexology into the practice that is usually in conjunction with yearly check-ups and the patients are taking advantage of it. This is a cash at the time of service treatment that some are finding to be a very worthwhile offering.

Social Media & SEO: Things started to get interesting back in 1990 when the world wide web was created (www) and then got even more interesting in 1997 with the first manifestation of a social networking site, Six Degrees was formed, followed by more successful social networking sites based on the “social-circles network model” such as Friendster, Myspace, LinkedIn, XING and of course Facebook. Today there are what is considered the Core 5 Social Media platforms that are considered the future of advertising, and the Top 10 that you will want to take into consideration. In all there are over 60 sites that are vying for a top spot. Social Media has catapulted itself into the top advertising mechanism for small businesses outside of search engine optimization (SEO). As practitioner websites grow more patient friendly, social media and SEO will be illuminated more and more as to its importance due to the electronic footprint that each new patient will leave. In the near future you may need to have a staff member that is devoted to caring for your digital footprint and image. 

I hope that healthcare will always stay relationship based and supported by trust and highly skilled practitioners. Nevertheless if digital technology and combining additional services that are enjoyable or keeps me from having to go outside of my regular office is available to me, that’s added value. 

Lynne Nelson is a Vice President of Professional Banking servicing Columbia Bank’s growing client base of dentists, veterinarians and physicians in Eastern Washington. She has more than 25 years of experience in the dental industry and works with a team of dental experts across the Pacific Northwest to provide targeted insight and financial solutions. Connect with Lynne today to learn more about starting your dental practice.