We are proud to work in a privately owned dental clinic. Corporate health care and corporate dentistry is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the health care industry every year. It’s a trend that is projected to continue. While it is difficult for me to understand, there are many people out there that simply don’t care one way or another if the dental office they go to is owned by a dentist or owned by a group of investors and the dentist is an employee. Who cares, right? As long as they take my insurance, it doesn’t matter. I have a message for the people that think that way: it matters. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Turnover. Sugary drinks and cigarettes and not flossing are all bad for your teeth, but so is changing dentists all of the time. Every dentist has a slightly different philosophy of treatment, and patients and dentists seem to be happier when they both agree on the approach to a patient’s care. If you’re meeting a new dentist every year and establishing a whole new relationship and philosophy each time you step in to the office, it can be frustrating and inconsistent. Corporate offices not owned by the dentist tend to have dentists passing through, coming and going all of the time. That’s not good for patients looking for consistency and quality in their dental care.
2. Decision Making. When a dentist is an employee at a corporately owned shop, there’s usually a manager or two telling them what to do. This is a terrible situation. A dentist typically has 8 years of higher education and training to deliver quality care to human beings in an ethical manner. For a dentist, there’s really not much worse than being told by a middle manager to be more agressive with a patient’s dental care so that some corporate bonus can be met. It’s an incredible conflict of interest that not only negatively impacts patients care, but it also negatively impacts their attitude toward the profession as a whole. A dentist may be aware of a better way to handle a case or treat a patient, but in a corporate setting it might not be the decision of the doctor and patient. It might be someone else’s decision how care is delivered.
3. Quality materials. All businesses are in business to make money, but health care has traditionally been held to a higher standard than a convenience store or a fast food place. Only a dentist truly understands how important it is on every level to use quality materials for the restorations and prosthetics that go in a patient’s mouth. The materials and labs are expensive and represent a significant portion of the monthly bills in our San Antonio dental clinic. If you don’t work with these materials in your hands every day, you just don’t know. For a manager in a corporate chain trying to figure out ways to cut costs and make more money, the dental lab bill is no different than the toilet paper bill. It’s just another place to cut costs, and they do it. The dentist suffers by having to work with less than ideal resources, and patients suffer with compromised care for absolutely no reason.
When I tell people that I own a San Antonio dental clinic, they ask me when I’m going to open up my second location. The answer is I’m not. Our purpose is to deliver high quality dental care to a few thousand patients in the community we serve. The corporate chains can do what they want to do, but that doesn’t have any effect on our purpose and goals. We firmly believe that there are people out there that believe in quality care and a quality relationship with their health care provider, and that’s why we opened our doors.
It doesn’t seem like corporate health care and corporate dentistry is going anywhere. Our mission is to serve those that want a level of care beyond that, and that’s what motivates us every day. We’re not a corporate chain, and we’re proud of it.