The inflation rate is high in India & with every passing year the price of basic necessities i.e. ROTI, KAPDA & MAKAN is increasing. Dentistry isn't the exception here. The basic overheads for running a dental clinic such as cost of dental equipments, materials, staff salaries, clinic rent etc. are increasing even then the dental treatments are getting cheaper & cheaper.
What is the root cause of this trend?
There are only a handful of dentists willing to start up in Rural India where dentists are actually required. Most Dentists have a natural affinity of setting clinic in Urban Areas which is already overcrowded & this is where the price war begins...
Most of the young practitioners, being new, have minimum liabilities and their only aim is to establish their practice by beating the competitors. They consider "Treatment Charges” as the main constraint to overcome the competition & lower their treatment charges to such an extent that there is hardly any profitability. They are of the firm opinion that this initial step will help them establish themselves and profitability can be brought in at a later stage. But this is where they go wrong. Any efforts to increase charges at a later stage are met with a lot of resistance.
The established dentists initially don't bother about these “freshers” but when the number of such young dentists increases; the experienced practitioners have to suffer because of their pricing policies and they also have to lower their consultation charges in order to attract clientele.
As the experienced doctors start charging low; fresher don't get the chance to raise their treatment charges & overall pricing of dental treatment goes down.
Who actually pays?
The shrinking profit margins not only affects the dentists but also the dental lab technicians & patients. When you are not paid well; you don't have choice than to look for ways to reduce your expenses. Dentists have to start using sub-standerd materials, equipment, dental labs, which ultimately results in compromising with the overall treatment.
You can't deny that there are some dentists who don't even follow the sterilization norms in order to reduce cost and ultimately the one who suffers is the patient.
How does this affect you?
When you sell yourself cheap, you can't invest in newer technology, machines, materials. You can't invest in learning new things which eventually makes your knowledge obsolete and affects your future practice.
Dentistry is a combination of art & science and our practice is not just about consultation like other healthcare professionals. Most of us can't practice after 60yrs of their age due to backache, vision and several other problems.
An average life span of a dental practice is 25-30 Years. So whatever dreams you have; you have got only 25-30 overs. Now it's up to you to bat like a 20:20, one day or like a test match.
What young practitioners need to understand?
The young dentists need to understand that "treatment charges" is not the only factor to overcome the competition, but there are several other things where you can focus like your specialty, best equipment, quality of materials, public relations, communication etc.
This way you don't downgrade your own dental practice as well as help dentistry to evolve.
What established practitioners need to understand?
The dentists who are already established should review and revise their treatment charges every year. Forget about progress but even to keep pace with the inflation rate; one has to increase treatment charges by at least 5 to 10 percent/year otherwise you will be at loss. overall status of dentistry can be improved.
This way you will give equal chances to the younger generation to prove themselves.
Cover Image courtesy: Google Images