5 Problems with Large Corporate Dentistry
Dental care has become big business for private equity firms in recent years, with large corporate dental centers run by these firms popping up all over the country. Our area has its fair share of these dental chains, with advertisements appearing everywhere offering free exams and consultations for patients who need dental work, especially dentures and dental implants in Indianapolis. While these chains are marketed as an alternative for affordable, quality care, those claims have come under scrutiny, with patient and employee complaints offering a different viewpoint on their services.
Dentistry as a Commodity
An aspect of these centers that has been the source of discomfort for many patients and practitioners is the profit-driven atmosphere that prevails in many of these centers, an issue that has, according to investigators, led to questionable business practices and care standards in some cases.
For example, in a June, 2012 report, The Center for Public Integrity and Frontline looked into Aspen Dental, which operates approximately 350 dental offices in 22 states, including a center for dental implants in Indianapolis. During their investigation, former employees spoke of profits taking priority over patient care, with employees trained in high-pressure sales techniques and pushed to meet daily production goals by selling patients on expensive and sometimes unnecessary treatments.
According to the report, corporate management scrutinizes production of dentists and staff daily, giving bonuses when key goals are met. Similar concerns have been raised in relation to other corporate practices, spurring investigations by the US Senate and six state governments into allegations of inferior treatment and over-treatment.
Assembly Line Treatment
Corporate dental offices and implant centers often advertise care at a deep discount as compared to private practices. To remain profitable at lower prices, they must follow the same sort of philosophy as big box stores – placing a premium on volume. That means moving as many patients through the system as possible each and every day, a goal that certainly doesn’t encourage the type of individualized care necessary for optimal patient outcomes.
Patients interested in dental implants in Indianapolis should be especially wary of this sort of treatment, since the success of implant-based restoration depends largely on careful surgical planning. Since no two patients are alike, this is a very individual process.
Factors like bone strength and density, general health, medications, lifestyle issues and many others must be taken into consideration for proper planning, a thorough examination must be done, patient goals and expectations must be discussed, and the potential risks and benefits of the procedure must be explained in detail. In short, thorough and productive consultations and surgical planning sessions take time.
Settling for a rushed consultation with a harried professional isn’t the way to go when your oral health and appearance are at stake, not to mention a substantial financial investment.
Related: Dental Abuse Related to Private Equity
The high-pressure environment of corporate dental practices and implant center results in a high staff turnover rate as compared to private practices, placing patient care in the hands of less experienced dental professionals and support staff.
Many corporate dental centers focus recruitment efforts on new dental school graduates, attracting them with promises of high salaries and bonuses to pay off student loan debt. While many young dental school graduates are very capable, they simply are not as experienced as the average dentist or oral surgeon in private practice, a difference that can affect patient outcomes substantially.
Limited Patient Choice
Corporate dental centers have a system built for efficiency. Patients typically have few choices in the process. All treatment is done by in-house professionals and support staff, which means that patients have very little choice in regards to who will handle their dental care.
Patients have little recourse but to settle for whoever is available, even if they are uncomfortable with a particular dentist or surgeon or unsatisfied with the level of care he or she provides.
Many patients and former employees describe a high pressure atmosphere for patients who venture in for those complimentary exams and consultations. Many report being presented with treatment plans calling for thousands of dollars worth of dental work, sometimes drawn up by a dental professional who hasn’t yet met them in person, giving them no opportunity to discuss treatment details or alternatives.
Often, they are herded into the office of a business manager and pressured to make a decision on the spot, sign a treatment contract, and produce a down payment against a total that typically must be paid in full before treatment begins.
The bottom line is that while many patients receive competent care at corporate dental practices and implant centers, it really is a gamble. When it comes to dental implants in Indianapolis, experience and professionalism are essential to beautiful, natural-looking and comfortable results. Don’t cut corners, see a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon for your procedure.
Read about the personalized, comfortable care you can expect with a visit to Falender Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center.