What is a corporate dental practice?
- A corporate dental practice is a franchise of dental offices that mainly focuses on profit. Its operation is based on a manager telling its dental offices how much they should be billing out per day. To draw in customers, corporate practices offer lower fees and quicker appointments, which makes it difficult for the dentists to offer the highest quality of patient care.
How often are you at the dentist?
A good dentist should only recommend necessary care and routine check-ups. If your dentist tells you that you need all of your fillings replaced, or lots of other work done at once, it could be a sign that you are going to a corporate practice. If every time you go in for a checkup visit, and you are being told you need work, you may want to rethink why it’s being recommended. Venture capitalists who fund many of these corporate offices are not looking for conservative six-month checkups; they have managers who seek to book as much work as they can. This is a failed practice model for patients looking for long-term quality care and positive relationships with their dentist and dental team.
If you aren’t sure about a dentist’s suggestions for future procedures, you can always take your X-rays (which are legally yours!) somewhere else for a second opinion. You should never feel pressured by your dentist. A dentist who is sure that the work is necessary will feel confident that his or her recommendations will be validated elsewhere.
Do you always see the same dentist?
In private dental practices, you will often see the same dentist for every visit. This consistency helps the dentist to build a relationship with his or her patients and understand their needs and expectations. Corporate practices have many different dentists seeing patients and it is unlikely for a patient to receive treatment from the same dentist more than once.
Another sign that a dental practice is corporate is its website. If there are many locations listed within the same area and every practice has an almost identical webpage, it is likely that the practice is a franchise with an overhead manager. It is even more likely if each webpage lists many dentists at each practice.
A variation of the corporate dental model is dentists who buy several, if not many, dental offices and hire dentist employees to staff them. If the main dentist has three to four offices, as listed on his or her website, how much patient care is this dentist going to provide while working out of multiple offices? Also, what happens when the employee dentists get frustrated and leave? More young dentists will be hired to take their places, but the risk is a lack of knowledge about each patient and his or her own specialized needs.
Corporate practices will fire dentists who aren’t making sales goals. This creates an unhealthy environment for dentists as they are constantly under pressure to do more, often unnecessary work to keep their jobs. A patient’s needs can’t ever be most important in a setting where profit is the ultimate goal.
At Briglia Dental Group, we are a private practice that operates on the trust and loyalty of our patients. We want every patient to feel that they are receiving top-notch care at every appointment. Our patients have built great relationships with our staff and trust that they are always our first priority.
Remember, you can always check online for reviews of dental offices online to see if patients are pleased with the care that they have received. To learn more about the rise of managed group practices, check out the September issue of Academy of General Dentistry’s Impact magazine here.