How are the economy, technology and insurance companies driving our patient's decisions to accept the treatment plan you are delivering? Not only are they deciding WHEN they will do that crown but even IF they will ever decide! Perhaps knowing how to overcome this challenge is to know more about how the other "elective spending" products are influencing patient behavior. Did we just say, "dentistry is elective spending"? It's not what we want to believe but when our patients are more interested in buying the latest iPhone than investing in the health of their mouth and body, we need to understand WHY.

Let's begin with how this begins, trends in any product begin with consumer interest which is influenced by marketing, consumer needs and most of all VALUE. What does VALUE mean? It doesn't mean, "can I get the least expensive phone, car or dentistry", it means, "which choice will give me the MOST for my money". If value meant cost we would still be using flip phones and driving our first cars. iPhone, Mac and Toyota have secured their position with our patients by providing more information, value and sex-appeal than their competition. How do they do it?

The trick to knowing how to set yourself apart to first know that if you don't you will be left behind. The business of dentistry is moving even faster than the new iPhone these days; for example, you can't pick up a dental trade magazine without seeing a new technology that has just been approved that is going to change the world of dentistry! Which ones will actually achieve that honor are the ones who understand the patient needs, industry trends and economical patterns of our industry. We will need to be able to make some predictions in order to stay ahead but are predictions enough? Let's look at some of the worst tech predictions in the last 150 years.

1876, William Orton, Pres of Western Union said, "the telephone had too many short comings to be taken seriously..."
1981, Marty Cooper, inventor, said, "cellular phones will absolutely NOT replace local wire systems..."
1989, Bill Gates said, "we will never make a 32-bit operating system".
2003, Steve Jobs, "the subscription model of buying music is bankrupt..."
2007, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, "there is no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market-share."

Knowing that our patients are influenced by trends, patterns and information is the key to understanding what we can do to predict their behavior. Nothing affected our business more than the 2007 housing crash, in 2008 the perception became that dentistry was elective. How many of us could have predict this? How many of us are still blind to this fact and therefore unable to respond in a way that changes that perception? We need to be willing to look at our business model and begin to create a higher value through better education techniques with our patients' long-term health in mind and how they FEEL about themselves. Let's start there.

Corporate dentistry has provided a model that serves two sides to the business of dentistry;
- the patient that wants to focus on a bright smile at a better cost
a way for new dentists, straight out of dental school, to get experience and a paycheck while working themselves to death.

This model allows a dentist to learn in a fast-paced environment but does not necessarily provide the art that goes into quality dentistry.

The trends that we feel are now influencing patient behavior in making decisions is speed, technology, the WOW factor and hope for a better smile. The promise of youth has become a huge influencer as baby-boomers and Gen Xer's are aging, that filling that is needed is not as appealing as that veneer case that will take 10 years off the smile! They are more driven by cosmetics because it provides youth, THAT is a trend! How will you speak to your patients with that in mind? What questions should you ask? What picture should you paint? How much business are you missing out on by ignoring what influences your patients?

You can have both! Deliver excitement in the benefits of both needed and elective procedures while also focusing on the consequences of waiting until insurance decides to pay (which is usually much slower than the rate of decay).

Maintaining your "Standard of Care" (the title of one our previous AMP! Tv shows) means you do still need to draw a line in the sand as to your beliefs and mission of your practice. For example, if a patient walks in wanting whitening and has periodontal disease, there is a way to solve this problem through education. Taking the time to educate the patient as to why we do things in a certain order helps the patient to understand that teeth need to have a long-term plan otherwise we could be whitening teeth that might fail in a matter of a couple years, what good would that do? What would be the VALUE in that?

Talk as a team about the market, strategize a plan, listen to your patients' common challenges and bring them to discussion. Learn to improve value for patients so that they may begin to prioritize dentistry and YOUR office specifically.

Here is an example, what did Apple do differently than Nokia or Blackberry? First, they built an amazing camera into the cell phone creating a frenzy of selfie-addicts! Then they turned it into a mini, hand-held computer. Then they added apps! Now the business of building apps has grown into the hundreds of billions. Let's add this one blaringly obvious and all too-true fact, this boom happened during the biggest market crash of our lifetime...the same time dentistry became ELECTIVE. What did they do that we didn't? They predicted public need; the need to FEEL good, the need to reach out, the need to smile, the need to be connected.

No doubt dentistry is moving just as quickly and with the 16 states dropping Delta Premium and forcing dentists into PPO, what do we plan to do? What's the plan? If it hasn't happened in your state, when will it? How will you stay ahead of THAT trend that will most certainly affect your business because it will affect your patients.

Send us your questions, send us your concerns, send us your stories. We'd love to know more about what we can do to help and what challenges you are already facing along with the ones you are trying to predict.


Watch the show HERE!

Darren blu AMP Studio


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