By Roger P. Levin / DDS
A substantial number of general dentists are now providing specialised treatment for many of their patients instead of referring them to specialists. Rather than letting potential production slip through their fingers, they’re retaining it . . . if they have the requisite skills and schedule capacity.
Two factors are driving this emerging trend.
One, of course, is financial pressure. Although 55% of dentists who took this year’s Dental Economics-Levin Group Annual Practice Survey reported an increase in annual revenue and 68.8% believe they will increase production in 2016, 46% nevertheless believe they will have to delay retirement. Dentists have become much more serious about growing their practices, and taking on more specialized treatment is one way many of them are doing it.
New technologies are also driving this do-it-yourself shift for GPs. For example, digital impressions and planning, along with easy-to-use aligners, have made it much simpler to provide effective orthodontic treatment. If cases aren’t overly challenging, dentists can now be confident of providing excellent care.
With per-patient and total production numbers still falling below desired levels, a growing number of GPs are referring less. This could change . . . when and if the numbers of new patients and total active patients increase.