Running the business side of a dental practice is a difficult balance of profits and patient-centered care.
by Dr. Lee Ann Brady
Consider this scenario: A patient comes in for a basic hygiene appointment and, lo and behold, you notice that a restoration you seated has an open margin. The cost of this issue falls onto your shoulders, because you have to explain that something you did fell short. You’ll have to take the loss and fix their restoration.
In this situation, business and healthcare seem more like a tug of war than two sides to the same coin of dentistry. You’re facing lost production and a sense of inadequacy fueled by your own disappointment and any frustration or upset felt by the patient who now must sit for more dentistry.
Years ago, my good friend Dr. Gary Dewood gave me some advice for how to rationalize the struggle between wanting to survive as a business and needing to provide the best quality healthcare possible. Since then, I’ve always gone back to it when a frustrating situation occurs:
49% Business, 51% Healthcare
In the percentages above, healthcare always wins. Regardless of whether or not you’re having a bad month financially (or even a great one) and the failed restoration will make things worse or ruin a streak of success, you still must always prioritize your patient.
Now, on the other side of that equation is the importance of business. If you can’t make money, you can’t practice dentistry in a way that serves your patients. The best solution to the times when healthcare must be privileged over business is to put money away for the inevitable rainy day. During productive months, set aside a “reserve” amount that can shore up the practice (and your emotional state) when a treatment doesn’t go as planned.