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How the Patient Reimbursement Shift Is Affecting Dental Instrument Selection
Tom Gallop, CEO of SS White Dental Inc., says a dilemma facing dentists today is how to position themselves in a changing dental landscape, which now includes fast-growing high-volume practices, such as dental service organizations (DSOs), as well as small-group and solo practitioners. All are competing for a rapidly changing patient population. This patient pie (according to ADA research), he says, now includes a shrinking self-pay and full-insurance patient pool as well as an expanding population of government-covered Medicaid/Medicare patients. “The Affordable Care Act will add to this patient mix 8 million children not previously covered,” he says. “This works out to 615 newly covered children for every 10 doctors in the USA.”
Thus, Mr. Gallop suggests, practitioners seeking to grow their practice in this environment must either become more efficient on lower fees to maintain income or win a disproportionate share of the shrinking fully insured patient pool. Or, they can attempt to do both. “For the past 10 years, we have been working with researchers, key opinion leaders, and dental school professors on the topics of efficiency, practice growth, and conservation of healthy tissue.”
“For those choosing the high-volume position, we have nine different products and techniques that doctors have told us save them up to 250 hours of chairtime per year,” he says. An example is the SS White Restoration Removal kit. “Removal of a single crown made of zirconia, which is significantly harder than other materials and is highly popular among dental laboratories, can take as long as 25 minutes using traditional instrumentation versus 2 minutes using a specially designed SS White Great White Z Bur.” Another simple time-saving technique, he suggests, is switching to fast-cutting single-use diamonds and carbides, since with multi-use diamonds, by the fifth use the cutting rate is half as effective, studies show.
For doctors who wish to differentiate their services for the shrinking fully insured base, SS White offers minimally invasive tools to support treatment that is more comfortable, including what Mr. Gallop calls their “thank you burs”—the Fissurotomy Bur, which doctors have said gets them thanked frequently, resulting in referrals from many patients who were formerly fearful during minimally invasive Class 1 procedures.
Indeed, the SS White CEO says, clinicians’ best opportunity to create a “magical moment”—that is, an experience which improves patient satisfaction and generates referrals—could be the No. 1 procedure they do: cavity preps. “What causes pain inside the tooth during access and decay removal can actually be avoided using appropriate minimally invasive tools and techniques during cavity preparation,” he explains. “By doing this, you decrease dental phobia, which is one of the biggest reasons for poor dental health. Doctors report that this procedure generates significant efficiency and practice growth.”
In fact, Mr. Gallop contends that dentists should offer comfortable anesthesia-free cavity preps on the estimated 85% of patients who are receptive to them to build their practices through greater efficiency, more minimally invasive treatment, and greater-comfort–driven referrals. He points to research conducted at New York University that showed 85% of patients preferred Smart Burs II® used with no anesthesia versus use of a carbide and anesthesia for removal of carious dentin without harm to healthy dentin. “By doing 200 cavity preps with Fissurotomy without any anesthesia, a dentist will save 10 minutes of chairtime per restoration, or nearly one week per year,” he states. “And the numbers grow as you utilize the technique and Smart Burs II on Class V and Class II procedures.”
The market is undergoing a fundamental shift, Mr. Gallop asserts. Reimbursement fees from the government are falling, and the population of fully insured private sector patients is shrinking. SS White offers products and procedural advancements developed with dental researchers that deliver better patient outcomes and substantial practice efficiencies. He adds that practitioners who would like to learn more about success stories that have saved doctors 5+ weeks of chairtime or generated 100+ referrals per doctor can call SS White to arrange an in-office discussion.
SS White Dental Inc.
1145 Towbin Ave
Lakewood, NJ 08701