I recently went to my mailbox where a newly taken over dental office had sent me a mailer advertising their office. The problem was that I could barely distinguish it from the countless other mailers offering me deals and discounts, and once in a life time offers. BUT, this was a health professional office and those others were offering discounts on clothing, housekeeping services, landscaping, etc. (you get the picture). I’m not quite sure how I would feel if I received a mailer from my primary care, any cardiologist or orthopedist offering me free exams, waiving initial co-pays, and offering discounted procedures.
“Buy one by-pass and get a second one free”…just bring in this flyer when you come in for your appointment.
What would you think? How would you respond? I would immediately think that something was wrong, perhaps they were not good enough to get patients on their own without “gimmicks”?
Needless to say, I wouldn’t be filled with overwhelming confidence. I’ve determined that discounts are good for everything that doesn’t involve my body! So why do we (Dentists) do it? Aren’t we a part of health care? Why does someone offer discounts and deals to begin with? Two reasons in my opinion: either they are not busy enough and are hoping to bring more patients through the door with this tactic, or more importantly they have adopted a practice model in dentistry of constant turnover. That is to say, they are looking not to treat patients comprehensively or build trust and relationships, but to exhaust any insurance benefit they can by just getting you and then someone else in the door. You’re a number broken down into a production equation, no longer a person.
This type of revolving door practice model actively solicits the type of patient that would otherwise not go to the dentist, but carries dental insurance, unless there was a deal to be had. But should we really be bargain hunting for our dental care? Is dental care equitable to the guy that will paint your house, shovel your driveway? So what’s the problem?
Comprehensive planning, diagnosis of oral disease, good clean efficient work is often not completed. This type of “gimmicky” dentistry gives the entire profession a salesman type of feeling to our patients.
So do you have a “bad” dentist if yours engages in such practices? No, not necessarily. The problem is that the day of the solo dental practitioner offering complete services to his or her patients for generations is slowly fading away. Wall Street has determined that there is money to be made in dentistry and that it is a wonderful corporate model. Private equity money has gotten involved in ownership of dental corporate offices in several states. And guess what? They are run like a corporation. It’s all about the bottom line. They run their offices like a corporation with daily production goals, monthly bonus for pushing services, offering discounted pricing that others cannot compete with. Why? To get you in the door and exhaust your insurance benefits by giving away less costly procedures and getting you involved in more expensive ones down the road. What you don’t know? In order for this practice model to work money has to be saved on the expense side in order to still turn a profit. How? They hire less experienced workers all across the board. Those include, assistants, hygienists, and yes the doctor! Why? They can pay them less because of their lack of experience and yup, you guessed it, make more money. Next, they will use cheaper materials and dental laboratories, some even outsourcing to developing (cheaper) countries (China), in order to keep expenses very low to, yup, you guessed it, make more money! Think they tell you that in the flyer?
If it’s anything that Wall Street is good at it’s making money, and if it’s at your expense so what…after all, you got a discount right?
-Dr. Moftah El Ghadi, DMD, FACP Prosthodontist
To learn more about Dr. El Ghadi, click here.