What’s Trending in Dentistry for 2019?
Are you prepared for dental industry changes in 2019?
This post was originally published August 13, 2015, and updated December 20, 2018.
At Titan Web Agency, we work with some of the country’s leading dental professionals. We’ve seen trends come and go over the years and always enjoy a front-row seat to experience what is happening in the health care and dental industries because of the type of work we do.
In order for dentists to maximize their patient retention practices and onboard new patients, it’s important that new and relevant information drive decisions made in dental offices. Staying ahead of the competition is tough, but when you initiate changes based on what patients and consumers want, you are more likely to come out on top.
To help you get ahead of the curve, we’ve put together seven trends that are influencing the way dentists do business in 2019 and how these changing times will impact your dental office now and in the future.
1. Continuing to Play Catch Up for Many Patients in Dental Care
While the dental industry is still feeling the impact of the decisions made by Congress in late 2017 and early 2018, the amended extension of the CHIP program covering dental care for children until 2024 means there is still a great deal of opportunity to promote good oral health to children and their families.
Education will increase new patient registration efforts
it’s important that the dentist take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity to bring in new patients while the government is still willing to subsidize dental care for children. Promoting this valuable information to parents may help increase the chances of them bringing their children to see a dentist.
Why adults avoid going to the dentist
A new year means new opportunities to promote services and products to adults who have been avoiding making an appointment. It’s not uncommon for adults to postpone dental treatments due to an inability to pay or a belief that they don’t need treatment. Parents who could afford to pay for dental care for themselves when they had CHIP for their kids may also be in need of catch-up care in 2019.
Targeting former patients on social media who haven’t been in to see you for a while will help jog their memory about the importance of visiting the dental office in 2019. Social media, email marketing, and direct mail can all help you get in touch with those patients and encourage them to make an appointment with you ASAP.
2. The Continued Use of 3D Printing in Dentistry
Not only is 3D printing still on the rise in the dental industry, but it’s also up and coming in the technology sectors and business world alike.
Technology is revolutionizing the world of dentistry, and we expect that trend to develop substantially into 2019. One of the most persistent trends is the rise of 3D resin printing as a way of providing custom dental solutions to patients. 3D printing means that dentures, crowns and more can be made in minutes, not days or weeks.
While 3D printing has been around for years, we’re still just seeing the application possibilities come to light in the dental industry. What started out as a lab tool has blossomed into something that can be used in all aspects of general dentistry, implantology, prosthodontics, and even to create custom devices to help patients with sleep apnea.
When it comes to 3D printing, a resin is commonly used in dental practices because it:
If you don’t have a 3D printer in your practice, now may be the time to think about investing in one. Their use is likely to increase over the coming year, and buying now can help you stay on top of the trend.
3. Continuing to Try to Work Around Social Media Algorithms
Dentists are not the only professionals seeing a downturn in their social media marketing efforts. In 2017, changes were made to several social media platforms that caused businesses to suffer the consequences. With 2018 behind us and looking ahead, many dentists are still trying to recover from those changes. With Facebook, for example, focusing on family and friends instead of advertising and news, your business may not get the traffic it once did online.
Use Facebook the Right Way
The biggest change that continues to persist for dental professionals is that you’ll probably have to spend more money to get the same engagement on your content than you did in 2016, or even the beginning of 2017. You can still maximize your reach on Facebook by taking some time to analyze the performance of your past posts and figure out who your true target market really is. Choosing the right content to boost and pay for, and the right days and times to boost it, can help you make the most of your Facebook marketing budget going forward.
4. Online Review Management
Referrals and reviews are one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. You need to be utilizing your online review system to its maximum potential and ensuring that patients have the ability to give you an online review.
Let’s start with some statistics. Here’s what you need to know about what your patients think about online reviews:
Some dentists don’t bother monitoring online reviews because they think if a patient has a problem, they’ll hear about it, but in today’s business world, you need to be vigilant about how you treat your patients: they will just end up online complaining.
First, 94% of consumers say that a negative online review has convinced them not to visit a business or service provider. There are no statistics available just for dental practices, but it’s a safe bet that having negative online reviews could be driving patients to your competitors.
The same survey found that only one-third of businesses respond to negative reviews. That’s another factor that your patients are likely to notice. 80% of all consumers believe that business owners who take the time to respond to online reviews care more about their clients than those who don’t.
The takeaway here is that reviews matter and your engagement with those reviews into 2019 will impact the success of your dentistry business. More patients are leaving reviews of medical providers than ever before, and you can take advantage of that by monitoring your reviews.
Something else to consider is that many review sites are external to your website’s reviews and so you need to be taking the time to monitor them, including Facebook, which is still a major contributing factor to decision making in North America today.
You can even get ahead of the trend by getting in the habit of asking patients to review your practice when they come in for their appointment. Training your staff to ask can increase your positive reviews and help you improve patient satisfaction.
5. Focus on Group Practices is Trending in 2019
Individual practices are on the decline and group dental practices are on the rise (and have been for the last few years). Throughout 2019, we expect to see this trend continue because of the cost-sharing that can happen when multiple dentists assume control over an office. This is a big trend, and even though we’ve discussed it before, it bears repeating.
One of the biggest drivers of the growth of group practices is the high cost of attending dental school. In 2014, the average dental student graduated with between $150,000 and $200,000 of debt. Fast forward to 2016, and that number skyrocketed to an average of $261,149. That’s a lot of money, and dental graduates feel the pressure of repaying their loans. The price of school is only going up and doesn’t seem to be leveling off any time soon.
The benefits of joining a group practice are clear: shared expenses, staff, overhead. Plus, working with others is always more fun than working by yourself.
An existing group practice also offers an established patient base and reputation, something that can take years for a new graduate to build. And, group practices provide stability. It’s easier to take time off when you have other dentists who can potentially cover for you. Joining a group when you are fresh out of school does wonders for your own client list.
Another reason for the continuing increase in group dental practices is the changing healthcare landscape. PPOs and other third-party providers have a lot of influence when it comes to approving providers for insurance coverage, setting insurance payment rates, and so on.
Solo practitioners must navigate those waters alone. A group practice, on the other hand, allows all practitioner/members to share the work and the burdens associated with insurance. Some dentists resist this trend, but it shows no sign of slowing. Plus, it’s easy for a new dentist to learn the tools of the trade from established dentists and benefit from their established practices in the insurance industry as well.
6. Continued Use of Digital Resources
The health care industry in general, and in particular, the dental industry have taken far too long to catch up to the digitization of paperwork and files. Other industries have been much faster to adopt paperless business solutions and online storage. However, with so much concern around security, it’s no wonder the dental and health care industries have been slow on the uptake.
The most obvious reason for the delays is patient confidentiality under HIPAA. Data that are stored on site, and on paper, can easily be protected. You can keep it under lock and key. Of course, there are still risks, but many dentists and patients feel comfortable with paper records that are stored at the physical location of the practice.
However, more dental practices are embracing new technologies when it comes to creating an environmentally friendly, paperless work environment. You may already be using new technologies, like online scheduling and other paperless solutions. What other options are there? Cloud Storage is going to continue to be popular in the dental industry because of accessibility and cost.
The first reason that cloud storage has gained traction in the dental industry is because of the affordable solutions it provides. In the business world, companies are often asked to minimize their overhead as a way of maximizing profits to shareholders. The same pressures can apply in the dental industry, as partners seek ways to increase their profits.
More cloud storage companies are moving toward HIPAA compliance and as 2019 turns over, we’ll be seeing more availability of this type of storage for dentists across North America. They recognize the need for security and understand that dental providers (and their patients) demand solutions that are affordable and safe. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2019 and beyond.
7. Getting Creative with the Finances
While some dentists may still be playing catch-up because of the 6- month gap in the CHIP program in 2017, another financial trend is happening: education and ongoing care are becoming vital to the profitability of dental clinics.
As a dental provider, you know that neglecting oral health can have long-term consequences that go far beyond the appearance of a patient’s teeth. A majority of Americans (77%, according to the National Association of Dental Plans) have dental coverage through an employer, a public program, or a plan that they purchased themselves.
Of course, the flip side of that is that 23% of Americans have no dental coverage. The NADP says that people who have dental coverage are more likely to:
You may be working with companies to provide no-interest medical credit cards and in-house payment plans so that you can reach more patients and make dental care more affordable. It’s important to manage any in-house financing you do carefully. Practices who provide it will need to be prepared to talk to patients honestly about their finances and follow up on payments if the patient is late.
"23% of Americans have no dental coverage"
8. Focus on Patient Experience
Even though there is a need to fill dental health gaps in North America, dental competition is fierce in some places. Overcrowding and population issues mean that dentists in some areas have to see many patients a day. You already know that consumers are being picky about which health care providers they choose. Some dental practices are becoming hyper-focused on creating a special experience for their patients as a way of differentiating themselves from their competitors.
One small but growing trend is an increase in spa practices. These practices put a high premium on providing a personalized and luxurious experience to their patients. Their services are likely to include more time with the dentist, particularly time discussing their dental history and long-term treatment goals. You know that a quality customer service experience can go a long way with any customer, and the same is true in dentistry.
These practices may also provide patients with video content in waiting areas to educate them about new procedures. Staff members can talk to patients about their experience and make them feel important in a way that traditional dental care has not.
There’s also a trend toward including spa treatments, including upright massage and reflexology, in a practice’s suite of services. Offering fringe benefits like these can help attract affluent patients and not coincidentally, they can drive positive online reviews, too.
Is Your Dental Practice Ready for 2019?
Whether you want to get more first-time dental patients in the door, or you struggle to retain patients, it’s important that you are aware of the trends that shape the dental industry for the coming year. As an experienced marketer serving dentists, I see that the practices who are willing to change things up in terms of their marketing and in other areas are the ones who are most successful at attracting and retaining patients.
Ready to take your dental practice to the next level? Do you need help keeping your website and other dental marketing materials current to reflect and capitalize on industry trends? Click the button below for a free, no-pressure consultation to help you figure out how to modernize your dental marketing strategy and start expanding that patient base.