Dentaltown June 2019 - 12

howard speaks
column

No 'Hero'-dontists Here
Adding a specialty can be great for your mindset-if it's performed enough
to be profitable. Otherwise, first you've gotta improve the practice you have
We have dentists from 218 countries registered on
Dentaltown, and I think every one of them should read
Paul Starr's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Social
Transformation of Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign
Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry. I consider
it the defi nitive history of the American health care
system-including the roles that government, insurance
and other entities provided-and I see its principles
rolling out in major ways in countries such as Brazil,
China and India, which are going through dilemmas
today that the U.S. experienced over the past century.
But I don't want to talk about the rise of the sovereign
profession in this column-I want to talk about the rise
of specialty dentistry and what it means to your business.

Economics and specialization
In 1900, there was no such thing as a medical
specialist: Your one doctor delivered your babies,
amputated your infected feet, and fi xed your eyes, ear,
nose and throat. He did everything ... and the results
were not very good.
There's economic value in specialization, however-something Adam Smith, the "father of modern
economics," understood. If someone only grows wheat,
for example, they'll do it better, faster, easier and at
lower cost and higher quality than someone who's also
spending time working as a plumber or a carpenter.
Between 1900 and 2000, the medical profession
created 58 specialties, and dentistry created nine (and
this year we just added dental anesthesiology). Over
the same amount of time, health care
went from accounting for just 1% of
the U.S. gross domestic product to
14% (and coming up on 2020, it's
up to 17%).
Meanwhile, I see way too many
dentists talking about doing all of
their work and referring nothing.

by Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, publisher, Dentaltown magazine

12

JUNE 2019 // dentaltown.com

Stick to what you know-and can profit at
First of all, following that model means you think
the best idea is to go back to what they were doing 120
years ago, and that's usually never a good idea. There
are thousands of health care journals published each
month, and you don't have the time to read all those
and keep up to date on everything.
Also, let's talk about economics:
* The average net income for a general practitioner
dentist is $197,000, and is drifting downward,
while the average for a specialist is $320,000, and
not dropping.
* Dentists who own their practices average
$244,000 a year, while dentists who are employees average $147,000.
So just from a macroeconomic level, it's better to
be a specialist than a practitioner in the U.S., and it's
better to own your own practice than to be an employee.
That said, specialists are also doing repetitive tasks
from the ages of 25 to 65, and 40 years of doing the
same thing over and over again usually
doesn't end in a healthy result.
That's why pretty much every
practice management consultant
I've interviewed in my Dentistry
Uncensored podcasts recommends
that general dentists add a specialty
every five years.
There's a condition,
which I refer to as
"Howard's Rule of
52": If you don't
do t he procedure-sleep
apnea treatment,
placing implants,
Invisalign,
whatever-


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Dentaltown June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dentaltown June 2019

Dentaltown June 2019 - Intro
Dentaltown June 2019 - Cover1
Dentaltown June 2019 - Cover2
Dentaltown June 2019 - 1
Dentaltown June 2019 - 2
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Dentaltown June 2019 - Cover3
Dentaltown June 2019 - Cover4
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