Trend forecasting in 2020 (for 2021) might seem a bit skewed given the COVID-19 pandemic shake-up. But there are 2021 trends in dentistry that are shaping the industry landscape.
We shared our own first-pass trend forecast recently via Track and Maximize the Trends in Dentistry for 2021 (and Beyond). Thought-leadership regarding those specific 2021 dental trends provides insight into…
- Patient engagement
- Supply-chain management and efficiency
- Dental insurance diversity
- Patient-facing convenience and care consistency
These touched on what could be considered a cross-section of what we (again) refer to as “patient-facing” trends.
But what about the dental industry in general?
What 2021 trends in dentistry are positioned to shape the overall industry landscape?
The patient-focused, clinical side of dentistry has it’s own trend-zone. And we’re prepared to cover that in more detail in the weeks ahead – helping you enter the New Year strong!
That said, there are some business-of-dentistry trends for 2021 that could have an impact on how you provide care now and in the future.
1. DSOs (Dental Service Organizations) aren’t going anywhere…but up!
As demographics shift for dentists (i.e. aging dentists retiring), new dentists face substantial education debt, and pandemic recovery requires time—DSO growth will accelerate.
The ADA (American Dental Association) projections confirm the rise of DSOs.
- 4 percent of dentists are currently affiliated with a DSO
- 3 percent of new dentists (ages 21 to 34) are part of a DSO
TheDSO trend-drivershave much to do with solo practice owners desiring to off-load business-ofdentistry challenges. A report predicts…
- Cost management advantages
- A decrease in expenses to run your practice
- Negotiation power with third-party vendors on technology, supplies, and more
- Associate relationships
- Robust staff benefit packages and a well-defined “exit” strategy for affiliated dentists
- Demographic appeal across all generations
- Debt assistance for new, start-up dentists
- Work-schedule enhancements for veteran (Boomer-aged) and retirement-track dentists
2. “We-got-your-back” financial support
Private equity firms have moved into the dental industry landscape. Their ability and willingness to purchase practices provides economic “air” for some dentists.
Agree or not, financial industry monitors report that the overall market for dental services is substantial…
And…private investment is projected to follow.
- The percentage of dentists linked with corporate-backed practices is low (10%)
- Anticipated consolidation
- Positive perception regarding the strength and growth of dental practices
- Small practice owners can benefit from a firm’s capital to build their practice
3. Opportunity remains for the solo dental practice
A solo dentist can count on trends being in their favor. This holds even though the previous trends mentioned show consolidation on the rise.
Your options as a solo provider might appear outside-the-box relative to traditional dental practice models.
- Independent dentists are experimenting with space-sharing with other dentists to save on technology and real-estate costs
- Specialty practices can serve patient needs with new treatment protocols and technology
- General dentists and specialists can collaborate as a team under the same roof
4. Insurance reimbursement margins are shrinking
Corporate pressure is forcing cost reductions on dental coverage. Insurance companies are clued-in and delivering less reimbursements.
The result: reduced profit margins for dental practices.
”According to the ADA, the average dentist participates in about six dental benefit plans. Today, 80 percent of the market is made up of preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and there’s an increased emphasis on directing plan beneficiaries to in-network dentists.”