Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Average Number of Patients Treated Per Day Drops Below 10 For First Time According to 2019 Dental Industry Association of Canada Survey


Here is some interesting data that I received from the Dental Industry Association of Canada.  Healthcare, like any other business, is susceptible to the laws of supply and demand.  We have seen similar situations happen here in the U.S.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several dental schools closed or began to greatly decrease class sizes.  This trend continued until the early 2000s when the provider to population ratio began to shift.  At that time existing schools began to ramp back up class sizes while several new dental schools began to come online.  Please read on for some interesting info from my Canadian friends...

The Average Patients Treated Per Day by Canadian dental practitioners continues to decline, according to results from the DIAC (Dental Industry Association of Canada)
Twenty-Third Annual Future of Dentistry Survey. In 2019, it appears the trend towards treating fewer
patients per day has accelerated with 97% of respondents stating they treated less than 15 patients a day (as opposed to 89% in 2018, 83% in 2017 and an average of 78.6% over the last five years). Most
striking, the average number treated per day dropped below 10 for the first time! Dentists treated 9.8
patients in an average day compared to the average of 12.4 patients over the last ten years.

This trend is not surprising given the published statistics from 1997 to 2014/15 on the decline in average population per dentist ratios across Canada widely available from a variety of sources including Statistica and the CDA3. The CDA’s Dentist Supply in Canada2 sums it up as “Current workforce data suggest that there is an oversupply of dentists throughout most regions of Canada, and the current supply of dentist will continue to significantly outpace the population growth. Population to dentist ratios have been decreasing in all parts of the country over the last decade, and in some provinces more than others. What this means is that there are growing numbers of dentists entering practice, while the growth of the population is not keeping pace with this increase in dentists.”

Certainly there are variations on a more regional basis. The CDA continued on to state that “In 2014, the population to dentist ratio across Canada was 1653, however there is a wide variation across the
provinces, from a low of 1493 in British Columbia to a high of 2759 in Newfoundland/ Labrador. There are variations in the distribution of the dental workforce across Canada, not only by jurisdiction but also by rural and urban regions, whereas the density of dentists in urban areas is now roughly three times that in rural areas”.

These findings are only part of the continuing fundamental shift in the make-up of the Canadian dental practice detected in previous Future of Dentistry surveys. All of the following points may reflect on the impact of the current economic situation on the creation of dental practices in Canada.

  There are now more dentists per practice as compared to ten year averages. Trend towards
increasing numbers of dentists in the practice continues, with 34% of practices identifying
themselves as sole practitioners (compared to 36% in 2018).

  70% of practices now have four or more operatories (22% have five or more)

  24% were planning on adding at least one more operatory in the next two years.

  The Number of Chairside Days continues to increase: One-third of respondents in 2019 (35%)
spent 200-249 days chairside, comparable with the average 30% from 2010-2018.
 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)

 This year’s results show a continuing trend towards slightly longer times to set up practices, with
20% of respondents setting up their practices in the first year in 2019 (down from 22%, in 2018,
26% in 2017, 29% in 2015, 32 % in 2013 and a high of 44% in 2010).

 However, they are not waiting much longer as 60% of 2019 respondents had set up in 2-5 years
(up from an average of 50% over the previous 8 surveys) and a corresponding drop in the 10 Years
or more result to 8%.

A total of 454 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 2019 survey results have an accuracy of +/- 4.6% 19 times out of 20.

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