Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Canadian Dental Practice Consolidation Continues According to 2018 DIAC Survey

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Here is some pretty interesting info from the Dental Industry Association of Canada.  This information comes from the Twenty-Second Annual Future of Dentistry Survey.  The things you can glean from this definitely point to some trends that I’m confident others are seeing in countries outside of Canada.  It’s well worth reading.
 

 – The fundamental shift in the make-up of the Canadian dental practice detected in previous reports is continuing, according to results from the DIAC (Dental Industry Association of Canada) Twenty-Second Annual Future of Dentistry Survey. All of the following points may reflect on the impact of the current economic situation on the dental practice in Canada:

  Trend towards increasing numbers of dentists in the practice continues, with 11% of practices with five or more dentists. This was 3.4% in 2016 and an average of 6.3% the last 14 years.
  Growing percentage of respondents describing their location as Urban (now 62% as compared to 56% last year and 51% in 2016) (average of 53% over past ten years). Drop off is in Suburban locations (falling to 22% from 29% last year and an average of 25% over the past 10 years).
  Practices with three or fewer operatories had been generally in steady decline since the survey began, a real drop of 40.2% since 1997.
  28% of respondents planning to add at least one operatory as opposed to 22% last year.
  The number of hygiene days per practice is increasing overall (with more days being added by

those who only had one or two per week previously) - 46% of respondents in 2018 had 5 or more

hygiene days per week, as compared to 44% last year and the average of 38.6% the last ten years).
  At the same time, the average number of patients treated per day continues to decline. Unlike last

year, where a higher number of specialists responded, the GP/Specialist split on response returned to historical norms in 2018. On an overall basis, dentists treated 11 patients in an average day as compared to the average of 12.5 patients over the last ten years. 89% stated they treated less than 15 patients a day (as opposed to 83% last year and an average of 78.6% over the last four years).
  Reinforcing the 2017 results, dentists continue to move into Multi-practice (Group Practice). While the majority (63%) of respondents stated they were in a solo practice, more than a third (34%) are now in a group practice – and these group practices are getting bigger with 24% having 5 or more operatories (as opposed to 17% in 2017). While the two key advantages attracting those in a multi-practice structure were Associate Support (57%) and Buying Power (20%), “Better hours for patients” had growing support this year with 12% of response. The majority of Group Practice respondents (63%) felt they offered a higher standard of care than a solo practitioner. However, a substantial 23% said they did not. This finding is reinforced by the response to the main drawbacks of a multi-practice (Group practice) structure with 21% citing Consistency of Care (#2 response with Conflict with management style #1 at 29%).

It is little wonder that “Financial/paying bills/overhead” was the top challenge that respondents intended to address in 2018 (as well as the Top Metric for Success in the opinion of 78% of respondents), with “Getting more patients/keep busy” a close second. The majority (60%) of dental practices now offer patient financing in some fashion, reinforcing results from 2017 (almost one-half (45%) of respondents offered in-house financing while 15% used third party financing) as a way to get those patients.
Financial concerns also appear to have impacted on dentists Practice Management CE activities. The top focus is on building “the Numbers”. The highest rated Practice Management topics for 2018 involve building the business of the practice (ranked in order from highest: Leadership Team Development; Revenue Enhancement/Expense Management; Fraud Protection; and Communication/Case Presentation).

For the first time, Social Media was mentioned by over 50% of respondents as one of the most popular Practice-Building Tools utilized, still second to “Asking for referrals” but trending rapidly upward from 13% in 2012. This movement to on-line promotion mirrors where dental patients are telling practitioners they are getting information on dental treatment options. According to the survey, Internet achieved another all-time high rating and was ranked as the top patient source for the third straight year. This was followed by the more traditional sources of Family members, friends, etc. and Dentist/Dental Team presentations.

A total of 414 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 2018 survey results have an accuracy of +/- 4.7% 19 times out of 20.

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