The last two years have probably been the toughest that dentistry has seen in a very long time. I don't think that there are many of us that haven't felt at least some effect of the recession that has plagued the country. One wise practice management consult said to me (maybe while doing his Jack Nicholson impersonation) that he did not watch the financial news, and "chose not to participate in the recession." While this may be a little difficult to do entirely, I think that we all must take home a very serious message from the thought process.
If we let the current economic situation affect us to the point that we are not comprehensively treatment planning, and are hiding from our patients the issues that we see, we are doing a great disservice to them.
I took this message to heart. I still perform a complete examination on each patient (though sometimes in phases), take many patients through the records process, and develop complete treatment plans for those patients when they are open to going through the process. I have taken a much more "soft sell" approach to how I discuss issues with patients, and have found that my case presentation has had overwhelming success, even in our current time. While the days where patients are breaking down the door for $40,000 cases may be on hold for a while,
phasing complete plans as Dr. Peter Dawson has always suggested, has become a win-win for everybody.
I am finding that patients still want to do what is in the best interest of their oral health, and are quite receptive to the idea of achieving that over a period of time. It all starts with having open discussions with our patients.
I still perform my complete examination, and
once we have determined where a patient wants to go, we formulate phased treatment planning to get us there
when necessary - sacrificing time, not optimal care. I have found many unique ways of utilizing composite resin to help me achieve occlusal stability when needed, and have come up with many natural breaks where patients can take pauses during complex care, especially when orthodontics have been needed.
I feel that approaching my practice in this way has had a resounding effect -- I have had the opportunity to have some very honest conversations with patients, and we have truly developed plans for their oral health together. We have co-diagnosed conditions, and developed ways to make successful therapy a reality. I have definitely had to think a little "outside of the box" at times, but the results have been very rewarding. My patients keep coming back, and are happy with what they are experiencing.
My bottom line? I am still doing a lot of high quality dentistry, serving my patients well, and spending my time where it matters to me most. My practice has thus not suffered in the current economy, and I can sleep well at night knowing that my dental morality is intact!
4 Tips for Maintaining Optimum Dentistry in the Current Economy
Want to improve your complete exam and treatment planning? Click here.
- Always perform a complete exam on a patient (even if you have to do it in phases)
- Always recommend the best treatment option for your patients
- Communicate clearly with patients that phasing treatment is an option
- Be honest and work with your patients to co-diagnose and treatment plan