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With student debt, more young adults live with their parents

After graduating from dental school, did you move back in with your parents?

dental student infographicAccording to a Wall Street Journal article, more young adults are living at home with their parents because of high student debt, along with joblessness and rising housing costs.

A $10,000 increase in student debt per graduate in a U.S. state is associated with an additional 2.9 percentage point rise in the rate of 25-year-olds living with parents, the article says, based on an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Adjusted for inflation, the average dental school debt for the class of 2000 was $118,515. For the class of 2014, the average debt was $247,227, according to the American Dental Education Association.

The WSJ article said the New York Fed study is the latest to show that young Americans are now much more likely to delay leaving home, or to “boomerang” back, as young people weighed down by student debt may try to save money by staying home.

To read the full WSJ article, click here.

Win a free registration for an ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management class

Want a chance to win a free class in the ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management? If you are an ADA member, click here to enter.

Clinical and Business

In an effort to provide the best in ongoing education for dentists, the American Dental Association’s Center for Professional Success  recruited dental management experts to introduce applications specific to running a dental practice, which are complemented by ADA-selected foundational business skills delivered by Notre Dame’s graduate-level faculty. The end result is a six course, dental practice management certificate program offered 100% online. The ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management takes on the tough practice management challenges today’s dentists must master. This includes reducing costs, enhancing marketing strategies, and practicing amid increased regulation.

These six online courses help dentists navigate the business side of dentistry:

  • Legal and ethical issues in dental practice.
  • Negotiation and conflict management.
  • Understanding leadership.
  • Business strategy and systems.
  • Dental team management.
  • Financial management.

For each course completed, verification of potential continuing education credits will be issued.

One winner will be named each month.

To enter the giveaway, click here.

Visit PMcertificate.Success.ADA.org or call 1.855.598.6559 to learn more about the program.

Remodeling your practice

Grand Rapids, Mich. — When Dr. Andrea Toth bought an existing practice in October, she knew she needed to remodel.

Dr. Toth

Dr. Toth

Soiled carpets. Furniture from the ’70s. Wallpaper falling apart. White walls no longer white. Bathroom floors appeared moldy.

“The equipment needed updating,” Dr. Toth said. “The dental X-rays and countertops were green. The chairs and upholstery were ripped. It all needed to be cleaned up and modernized.”

Three months later, she got her wish. New equipment. New dark wooden floors. Modern furniture. Clean new granite countertops.

“It’s given me a completely different feeling when I come in to work,” Dr. Toth said. “The best part is that my staff and my patients love it.”

Dr. Toth spoke with ADA New Dentist Now blog to share some advice and suggestions, based on her experience, for making a remodeling experience as smooth as possible.

With financing, be patient

The biggest obstacle Dr. Toth said she faced in the process was the issue of finance.

“I was trying to get a loan from a bank, but it was taking so long,” she said, adding that when she finally heard back regarding the loan, the bank wanted to hold the practice as collateral.

“My husband and I just decided to pay for it,” she said. Even then, with the holidays and the search for contractors, the construction and remodeling couldn’t start until Jan. 10 — finishing a week later.

For those who can’t afford it and need a loan, be patient.

“I would advise that you have a realistic idea of how long this this will take,” she said. “Give yourself enough time and plan ahead. Realize that you can’t have it all in an instant.”

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (After)

Lobby (After)

Find the right people

Another process that took time was the search for a contractor to be tasked with the construction — replacing the floors, painting the walls, removing the wall paper, etc.

The dentist that Dr. Toth had bought the practice from had been in the space for over 30 years. When she came to acquire it, she didn’t have the layout of the of the facility.

“I didn’t know what were in the walls,” she said. Contractors asked where and how the plumbing was set up; where the electrical wires were.

“My guess was just as good as theirs,” she said. “So some contractors didn’t want to work with me.”

In addition, some companies would send someone to visit the practice, then never submit a bid as promised. Then there were contractors who would submit bids that excluded costs on certain work — which made their bids appear low.

In the end, Dr. Toth found a local contractor, Copper Rock Construction from Grand Rapids.

“They were very upfront with me on the costs,” she said, adding that they were more affordable compared to the other bids. “They said that if they go over budget, it won’t be over 15 percent. They were sincere, with good prices and did good work.”

Dr. Toth also went with Dental Equipment and Repair, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, to remove and reinstall all dental-related items such as cabinets, dental chairs and dental equipment.

“I was very happy with the results,” she said.

Utilize the Internet and friends

When it came to decorating the space, Dr. Toth said, Dental Equipment offered to furnish the space.

However, after conducting simple Google searches, she found pieces that were much more affordable, including artwork, mirrors and furniture.

It was through looking at photos online of other dental practices that she was inspired and decided to get dark wooden floors.

“The rest sort of fell into place,” she said. “I met with neighbors and friends to give me some input on what they thought. And I considered what they said in my decisions.”

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (After)

Operatory (After)

Oversee the operation

Once you’ve hired the right people, don’t disappear.

Dr. Toth said she made sure she was available to coordinate schedules. For example, Copper Rock Construction couldn’t paint until Dental Equipment finished installing a certain equipment or cabinet.

“I would come over and make sure everything was going as planned,” she said.

In addition, her front desk staff worked during remodeling week to answer phone calls from patients.

“If anything needed my attention,” she said. “I instructed them to call me.”

For more information or tips on remodeling your practice, visit the ADA Center for Professional Success website here.

Dental spending growth slower

According to ADA News, government actuaries cited slower growth in dental spending than projected just three months earlier in a study revising the post-recession National Health Expenditures narrative from “low rates of growth” to “slowdown.”

Annual growth of dental servicesThe 3.6 percent increase in the 2013 rate of growth in the overall health economy is the lowest on record since NHE record keeping began in 1960, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary said.

CMS actuaries in a September 2014 report had projected that 2013 dental spending would total $113 billion at a 1.9 percent annual growth rate. The study published in December 2014 by the journal Health Affairs said actual dental spending increased by just 0.9 percent to $111 billion.

Dental services spendingDental spending and the annual growth rate had been inching upward since 2009 when it increased minimally from $102.4 billion to $102.5 billion or 0.1 percent over 2008. The 2013 growth rate is the lowest since then.

To read the full article, click here.

PBHS: 3 rules for a successful direct mail campaign

Here are three rules to follow to make your direct mail campaign a success, according to PBHS, the website and marketing services provider endorsed by ADA Business Resources:PBHS

  • Select your mailing list: Define your audience by selecting demographic constraints that are applicable to your target market. For example, age of targeted patients, household revenue and geography. Legally purchase your list from a reputable source. The more careful you are in analyzing your direct mail lists, the better your chance for success.
  • Deliver a clear message: A direct mail campaign should visually engage your audience and create an emotional response within a few seconds. State a clear message, incentivize your patient and promote a call to action which will drive the patient to contact you easily and quickly — offer, suggest, encourage and evoke a response.
  • Design is the key: Let a professional designer help you select images, fonts, colors and layouts that best reflect your practice brand in a consistent manner. Visually engaging campaigns create a feeling of trust and encourage the audience to take action. Support your campaign with online tools, such as analytics, call tracking and contact form to better understand your return on investment.

Have you ever done a direct mail campaign? How did it go?

Working with a marketing firm

After buying the practice where he had been an associate in a few years ago, Dr. Ash Vasanthan wanted to start from scratch when it came to rebuilding his brand.

“I had a client base and an active website, but I wanted to rebrand myself,” said Dr. Vasanthan, a periodontist who has been practicing for 5 years in Roseville, California.

Dr. Vasanthan  In January 2013, he started working with PBHS, the ADA Business Resources-endorsed website design and practice marketing firm.

Working with a graphic designer, one of his first decision was choosing colors, which led to the creation of his practice’s logo. Both colors and logo are used throughout his practice, from his website and stationary to letterheads and coffee mugs.

Meanwhile, PBHS also built Dr. Vasanthan’s website — which, for people searching for periodontists in his area, is now the top result online.

“Everything had to be very precise,” he said, when it came to working with PBHS. “Building my brand was a defining moment for me because I was a new business owner.”

Dr. Vasanthan spoke with ADA New Dentist News to share some suggestions and advice for making the most out of working a marketing firm.

Call around

“PBHS isn’t the only marketing firm around,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “But dentists need to do their research to find the best firm for their needs. I really wanted a company that would take me and say, ‘We can brand you, we can start from scratch.’

“I zeroed in on PBHS because I felt they would be able to provide me with what I was looking for. It’s also a good idea to just call around. I partly chose PBHS because their customer service was great. I never reached a machine.  Jay Levine, PBHS president, was always available and accessible to answer any questions despite being the very busy.”

When it came to building a website, which Dr. Vasanthan considers his top marketing tool, he compared the construction of a house.

“If you want a beautiful, sturdy house, you have to find the best builder in town for you,” he said. “I called a few places, visited several websites and asked friends for recommendations before I found the one.”

Consider your budget

“For new dentists starting a practice, you have to spend money on so many things on top of trying to repay student loans,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “For me, I didn’t go for PBHS’ top tier offerings. I went with somewhere in the middle. I would tell new dentists to really look at what you’re getting for what you’re paying. Sometimes, you don’t have to choose the most expensive package or service to be happy and to get the results you want.”

Get a website

Dr. Vasanthan said his main focus when he hired a marketing firm was to increase his Web presence.

“My website is my number one marketing tool. It’s my face on the Internet,” he said. “When starting a new practice, it’s important to have a website immediately. I would say it’s only second to having a phone number set up for the office. A potential patient can only reach you 8-5 on the phone. A website allows them to access you 24/7.”

Make things easier for patients

Just because a website or a successful marketing strategy help potential patients find you easier, it should also make things more convenient for them, Dr. Vasanthan said.

“The simplest thing a new dentist can do is to have a responsive Web design with a fill-able patient registration available online,” he said.

Dr. Vasanthan’s website allows potential patients to fill out and submit new patient registration forms when making an appointment. This way, the patient doesn’t have to fill it out at the office and it helps his practice track how many new patients are coming in due to his Web marketing.

Stay involved

When it came to the designing your brand, you have to be very involved, Dr. Vasanthan said. He worked exclusively with Alejandro Salazar, a PBHS graphic designer, who translated his vision into art and helped design his logo, business cards, letterheads, etc.  Dr. Vasanthan said he is extremely proud to hand out his business cards just because of the many times he gets complimented on the design and the quality.

“I put my logo on everything. I’m very proud to show it off. To me, being able to explicitly express what I wanted or looking for was very, very important,” Dr. Vasanthan said. “What you’re doing should reflect who you are.”

Log on to Success.ADA.org for valuable resources

The ADA Center for Professional Success, Success.ADA.org, is a unique web portal for dentists in every practice setting who want to succeed as dental practitioners.

Resources include frequently asked questions about dental codes; information on Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance issues; financial calculators for loan and overhead analysis; in-person and online educational opportunities; and guidance for new dentists on how to understand employment agreements before they sign on the dotted line.

The ultimate goal of the Center is to provide accurate answers to specific questions members have helping them balance their professional careers with their personal lives.

ADA launches new dental student Web portal

The ADA launched this month a new Web portal designed to provide a one-stop shop for dental students seeking information, ranging from financial resources to finding a job.

ADA for Dental StudentsThe portal ADA for Dental Students can be found at ADA.org/student or can be accessed via the Member Center on ADA.org.

The portal provides dental students easy access to a variety of ADA resources and benefits, including information on dental careers and finding a job, financial planning and student loan debt, dental licensure and examinations, professional ethics, and more!

The portal will be regularly updated with new and noteworthy information and resources. For more information, contact the ADA Office of Student Affairs at studentaffairs@ada.org.

Maintaining a positive online reputation

Do you know what your patients are saying about you? Your online reputation depends on whether and/or how you react to what people say about your services.

Today, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success, many patients investigate your office prior to an initial appointment using Google, Yelp, and many other review and research sources. Make sure you are doing everything you can to maintain a positive online reputation.

PBHSADA Business Resources and Protective Business and Health Systems (PBHS) recently hosted a webinar on managing your online reputation. A recording of the seminar along with the question and answer section is now available for ADA members.

In this webinar Jay Levine, president of PBHS, offered tips and best practices to monitor your public reputation and take a proactive approach to addressing online reviews. To view the webinar, accessible to ADA members, click here.

This information is provided courtesy of PBHS, the only marketing company endorsed by ADA Business Resources. Learn more about PBHS, click here or by calling 855.932.4232.

 

Determining the ideal size and space of your practice

Opening a dental office is a significant step in a dentist’s career. It is also quite taxing. According to the ADA Center for Professional Success, taking it one organized step at a time can help alleviate some of the stress.

One of the first major things you need to decide is the size and location of your ideal space.

The size and location are based on your 10-year plan. This plan is how you envision your business to be functioning in ten years, in terms of maximum production. Having a 10-year plan will enable you to determine the number of operatories required to achieve your goals. Some dentists simply want to be sole proprietors, with a full-time hygienist and possibly another part-time hygienist. Others may want to hire an associate down the road or even run a multi-provider clinic.

Dental Office DesignOnce you have determined the number of operatories necessary to support your 10-year plan, you can determine the square footage you will need for your new office.  Dental Office Design, published by the ADA, offers a formula that can be an excellent starting point to determine required square footage:

Number of Operatories
Multiplied by Square Footage of Operatories
Divided by .275

A full chapter excerpt from How to Open a New Dental Office or Relocate Your Current One on deciding how many operatories an office will need, how much square footage an office will require, and other preliminary decisions when choosing and constructing a dental space can be found here.

This excerpt is provided courtesy of Gordon F. Osterhaus Jr., DDS. Dr. Osterhaus is the author of How to Open a New Dental Office or Relocate Your Current One. The book is available online at www.valleydentalconsulting.com. Dr. Osterhaus is also a contributing author to The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design available through the ADA catalog.