keyboard with the whitepaper laying on it

With only 39% of Americans visiting the dentist in the course of a year, clinicians and their teams are faced with the challenge of connecting with patients who often fail to grasp the value of treatment.

Spear is providing clinicians with unique insight on the crucial industry issue in the “Perceptions of Dentistry in the Information Age” white paper, which details patients’ rising demand for total satisfaction with their dental experience.

The white paper combines key findings from the 2019 ADA Health Policy Institute “Annual Dentistry Industry Report” and from Spear’s own years of research – highlighting the impact of consumerism on the dental industry, the decline in private dental insurance reimbursement rates and how digital resources help more clinicians shape lasting bonds with often-skeptical patients.

“For years now, Spear has been engaged in ongoing research to understand patient behavior,” said Adam McWethy, vice president of content strategy, who oversaw development of the Patient Education multimedia platform available on Spear Online.

“This work has been integral not only in developing our suite of Patient Education tools but is helping to guide our overall teaching philosophy,” McWethy added. “The ‘Perceptions of Dentistry’ white paper overlays our findings with industry data, which provides clinicians with actionable insights they can use to combat some of dentistry’s biggest challenges.”

The white paper covers topics ranging from how to manage patients’ online reviews to the necessity of using tools like animated Patient Education videos to help patients visualize the importance of treatment.

Key points in “Perceptions of Dentistry” include:

Less than half of America visits the dentist annually

Can you imagine going a year without a dental appointment? That’s the reality for more than half of the American population.

Why aren’t people going? According to HPI's recent “Dentistry: A Profession in Transition” report, 33% of adults believe they don’t need to visit the dentist.

For some practices, this means not being able to add enough new patients to meet growth goals or losing patients to DSOs and corporate dentistry.

Patients demand value from their dentist

Millions of Americans have come to expect nothing but exceptional value from their dental appointments and procedures, with nearly two-thirds of adults under 35 indicating a preference for lower cost plans with less choice of dentists.

With values shifting, practitioners must evolve or risk losing out to competitors with a stronger digital presence, a more efficient scheduling processes or cozier waiting room – the little things patients require to consider their dental experience truly worthwhile.

How a clinician and their team interact is often a key issue for patients. In Spear’s research, preventable issues like long wait times and poor communication were cited in 63% of negative online reviews.

Reimbursement rates are plummeting

The HPI report found that reimbursement rates are declining, which makes out-of-pocket procedures essential to running a successful practice.

From a rate of 87.5 in 2015 to 84.6 in 2016, there was an overall decline of 3.3% in reimbursement, which is a clear point of frustration for patients who discover just how little some procedures are covered.

The white paper highlights measures that the independent dental practice can take to mitigate the impact of the industry sea change.

Patient Education makes communication effortless

As Spear has espoused since its inception, improving patient communication is essential to the long-term success of any dental practice.

The Patient Education platform – available to Spear Online members – includes animated videos, a drawing tool, customizable features and Spanish subtitles, which dentists can reference chairside via tablet app or stream to lobby monitors with Apple TV or Fire TV Stick.

In a survey of 500 patients who were shown a chairside Patient Education tablet video on gingival recession, 95% wanted to understand treatment options, 91% wanted payment options if treatment was not covered and 78% felt it would be helpful if their dentist offered Patient Education videos.


Commenter's Profile Image Moshe S.
July 22nd, 2019
I'd love to hear a follow up question, when the same patients hear that the cost of a crown is e.g. $1200. How many patients still say they will follow through with treatment after hearing the price. We have many patients who do follow through, but many who don't.
Commenter's Profile Image Edward R.
July 23rd, 2019
This article is well written and informative. With all of the trends forthcoming in the next few years I still believe that building trust with your patients is the key to overcoming obstacles to treatment. This trust is gained because of your dedication to gaining knowledge through continuing education. Spear’s vast array of educational opportunities can be a vehicle for you to achieve high levels of care with confidence..