As might be expected given the COVID-19 pandemic, “Financial Concerns” are now the top challenge Canadian dentists intend to address in their practice in 2020 (as compared to fourth highest ranked challenge in 2019), according to results from the DIAC (Dental Industry Association of Canada) Twenty-Fourth Annual Future of Dentistry Survey. However, dentists remained optimistic regarding most other 2020 aspects of operating their practices in the future. This year’s survey was designed and launched prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was conducted between the period of February 1st to the first week of June 2020 and includes dentist’s opinions during the period of closures due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Due to the timing of the survey no specific questions were included addressing the impact of COVID-19 on dentistry.
As with past surveys, the pattern of Challenges mentioned, other than Financial Concerns, continued in the traditional ranked order noted in 2018 and 2019: Getting More Patients, Staffing Issues, Acceptance of Treatment Plans, and Installing New Equipment/Office Upgrades. These reflect the continuing concerns of the typical dental practice expressed over the years before the onset of the pandemic and appear to be unchanged based on the responses received between February and the first of June 2020. What does appear to be growing is the impact of incorporating technology in the office (32% now rate it as a Key Metric for success) as well as the creation of a new category of concern “Securing Proper PPE,” an obvious reference to COVID-19.
In addition, the continuing positive outlook of dentists surveyed between February and June 2020 in Canada towards the future is reflected by the following findings from this year’s survey in terms of investing in their practices and their abilities moving forward:
While the trend towards larger practices in terms of numbers of dentists and operatories noted in previous surveys has continued, over 22% of 2020 respondents still intend to add one or more new operatories in the next two years. This percentage has remained basically unchanged since 2017.
Dentists still intend to purchase new equipment over the next two years at the same rate as in the past with Digital Impression Systems still the top intended equipment purchase (38% of respondents), followed by Electric Handpiece (29%) and Cone Beam Computed Tomography (23%).
The percentage of respondents with a fully Paperless Office has reached 40% in 2020.
The percentages of digitization in the individual practice areas studied—X-Ray (91%), Operatories (71%), Private Office (70%) and Charting (57%)—are now all over 50% and continue to increase.
Social Media continues to climb the list of Practice-Building Tools used (52% of respondents in 2020 use Social Media and it is now second only to Asking For Referrals in popularity).
Over half still plan to have a specialist place their implants BUT 29% are now placing implants themselves (up from 21% last year).
40% now use or plan to use Guided Implant Surgery in their practice.
Over 50% now expect to use modeless restorations for single unit cases.
A record high 50% are participating in one or more Study Clubs in 2020 (up from an average of 38% the previous eight years).
A total of 440 practicing Canadian dentists responded to this year’s survey with a good proportional distribution across all regions of the country. Based on this response rate, overall 2020 survey results have an accuracy of +/- 4.67% 19 times out of 20.