Success in dentistry — Big trends & opportunities for 2015

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Aspen Dental Management Chief Marketing Officer Mark Censoprano discuses the dental industry and where it's headed in the future.

Q: What do you think are the biggest trends shaping the dental industry?

Mark Censoprano: From a patient perspective, the biggest trend shaping the dental industry is the same as the trend that's shaping healthcare at large: Increasing consumerism. Patients today have the same expectations for their dental care that they have for other areas of their life – and as a result of the recession, they are more cautious with their hard-earned dollars, which unfortunately is leading to a decline in dental visits among adults. They've also become more vocal about what they want in their dental care experience. Fortunately, Aspen Dental is uniquely poised to meet that growing shift – the practice model was founded on the premise of putting the patient first.

On the dentist side, the fact that many new dentists have large amounts of debt coming out of school – estimates range between $200,000 - $300,000 in average debt for new graduates – has certainly been a factor in the growth of dental service organizations (DSOs) like Aspen Dental Management, Inc. Plus, while dentists are trained to have clinical expertise, they aren't necessarily learning how to run a successful business, so partnering with an organization like ours provides access to the support and mentorship they need to become successful and build a career.

Q: How do you think dental practice structure will change as a result of these trends?

MC: More dentists are now embracing DSOs to help them become more efficient, reduce costs and help keep up with demand. Through non-clinical support services – including scheduling, HR, IT, accounting, and other back-office support – DSOs offer dentists more time to focus on providing care to patients at affordable rates. It is an attractive dental practice structure that is solving both social and economic issues. That's why its rate of adoption has been outpacing a traditional practice model.

Q: Do you expect the market for dental practice management to grow over the next few years?

MC: At ADMI, we are seeing demand for our services grow consistently from dentists who are looking to maximize their professional potential yet still have a work/life balance. In that regard, we see this as a larger industry trend as dentists begin to move toward larger group practices that are DSO-supported. The ADA Health Policy Resources Center concluded in 2012 that in just two years, the number of large dental practices has risen 25 percent. Such rapid growth suggests that DSOs – while not the only practice model – will represent a more significant sector of dentists in future years.

Q: What are a few goals Aspen Dental has planned for 2015?

MC: In light of the way healthcare is moving, Aspen Dental practices continue to pursue patient-centric innovations. For example, in 2014 Aspen Dental practices introduced a Denture Money Back Guarantee, which means that if patients are dissatisfied with their dentures for any reason, the practice will refund the cost of the dentures. The practices also just introduced a Peace of Mind Promise, which includes things like a price guarantee and insurance estimate guarantee, because we know how difficult unexpected bills can be.

At ADMI, we're also continuing to pursue programs that help the dentists we support, such as our Doctor Development Program that ensure that new dentists have the support and mentorship they need from an experienced, successful practice owner dentist.

And we will continue to move into communities where access to care is needed – approximately 80 percent of the Aspen Dental practices are located in dental health professional shortage areas, and we're proud of the role we're playing in meeting an unmet need.

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