The time for talk of change is now over and all practice owners and practitioners have to face the reality that is unfolding.
- Health Insurance Funds freezing preferred provider fee for 12 months and more.
- Health Insurance Funds issuing preferred providers with directives that they have to get fund approval before being able to perform a treatment on one of fund their members.
- Health Insurance Funds clerical staff issuing fee refund notices to practices for treatments that fall outside a fund imposed formula for their assessed “average” treatments per year.
- Health Funds threatening cancellation of contracts if a practice does not reduce fees to the fund stated “average” for other preferred providers – no external verification of “average” fees.
- Practices forced into justifying their fees to patients because of Health Insurance Funds informing their fund members that the non-preferred provider is too expensive.
- Practices having to face patient resentment about new policy exclusions.
- Health Funds combining to own and control web based clinic review sites giving their own clinics priority treatment.
- Corporate and Health Insurance Funds starting to dominate the best new establishment sites in growth areas previously the domain for young dentists wanting to set up.
- Corporate entities setting employee dentists production KPI’s and implying dismissal if not achieved.
- Corporate entities forcing practitioners to execute complicated Service and Facility Agreements that define the practitioner as running his/her own business when they are still subjected to corporate regulation and supervision. Corporate objective is to reduce payroll tax and litigation exposure.
- Corporate and Health Insurance Fund saturating advertising and internet marketing inflating the cost for independent dentists to advertise via Google and Facebook.
- Corporate and Health Insurance Funds moving to vertical integration of patient treatments via own contracted specialists and services.
Welcome to the new world order.
Clinical skills alone are no longer the determining factor in the success of a dental practice. Today’s practice owners have to be skilled in business for long-term survival. With no formal training in business most practice owners are either struggling to cope or paying extra for external service providers to cover their business knowledge deficiencies.
Many dentists who took the preferred provider option against the advice of the ADA are now feeling the consequences and trying to find a way to exit contracts without losing a large portion of their patient base. But despite all of the above negatives all funds have a waiting list of new practices wanting to become preferred providers mainly as means of getting an initial patient base.
The preferred provider waiting list is partly due to the pressure on young dentists through difficulty in finding profitable employment in an established clinic and because of the heavy debt burden of University fess and set up costs. This waiting list empowers the Health Insurance Funds to continue to pressure and interfere in established preferred provider clinics as they can imply they can cancel contracts and replace with nearby options.
With all the above imposed changes on the profession by “profit driven pirates” seeking profit from a Health Profession that was historically focused on patient care most dentists, both associates and practice owners, are at loss as to how to cope and build a successful future.
The biggest problem is that they feel impotent – they are fragmented in a now structured marketplace and have no clear vision to go forward with. ADA membership is declining and under threat of losing its influence as younger dentists are advised by some corporates not to join the ADA.
What is the alternative? The Independent Dentist Network – designed as a business platform for practice owners to unite under and work together for common benefit by using their numbers to fund collective marketing of a common identity and image and creation of the same administration and services benefits that corporate entities have to achieve cost savings and efficiencies.
In simple terms be able to compete on equal terms and reclaim control of dentistry by dentists.
The Independent Dentist Network is steadily growing across Australia and is now starting to assist many preferred provider practices to begin a structured exit from their contracts that will minimise potential patient losses.
The future is not set – change can always happen – hope is always there for the brave.
Dentists have to see the “big picture” and maximise their trust in their peers to work together under the IDN banner and not let Health Insurance Funds and Corporate Entities dominate their profession. Through IDN dentists have a means of projecting a market image as health professionals that are focused on patient long-term quality care – Driven by Care – Not by Profit. IDN provides a single market voice and identity for private practice owners to be able to successfully compete against Health Fund and Corporate clinics.
Independent Dentist Network