Two realities are redefining the nature of today’s dental marketplace. First, the choices prospective patients face are increasing at an exponential rate – or they are totally disappearing, depending on where they live and their financial circumstances. And secondly, long-term truly helping relationships are being replaced with flashy, sales-oriented – and hence manipulative -interactions, where the central agenda of the business is the bottom line – always.
This shift has been largely driven by four forces:
1. Technology which now allows us to do more at a faster pace, and often with fewer people.
2. Cultural shifts where cynicism and personal experiences are tending to cause more and more people to view more and more aspects of their everyday lives as being transactional rather than relational.
3. “Insurance” reimbursement patterns and levels.
4. And a trend toward reductionistic thinking, which fits neatly in with the above three trends, and advances the myth that if we can reduce everything down to its most basic component parts, isolate the problem, fix it, and reassemble everything, all will be well.
But there is a problem with this approach. It views heathcare through an industrialized lens – a lens which is particularly focused on costs and profits. And people are not machines. And people are not always rational. And people often require principle-centered leadership to become healthier.
(Notice that I said “leadership” and not “more sophisticated treatment.)
Reductionism is seductive because it is often immediately more efficient, and there are certainly times when it is the right approach. But it can come with a price, and the price is often effectiveness over the long-term on an invidual level Consequently, a reductionistic philosophy is not the orientation a healthcare professional should be taking on exclusively, as their patient’s needs -in a holistic sense, short and long term -should always be considered before the business’s financial needs come into play.
This is because heath itself is a holistic concept. It REQUIRES patient involvement. It REQUIRES patient participation. And it therefore REQUIRES healing, which is an inside-out process – facilitated perhaps – but still emerging FROM the patient.
Bob Barkley reminded us that we can not give heath to anyone. Sure, we can apply a broad range of elaborate curing methods TO them and ON them, but without the “WITH THEM” part, we can only improve their appearance or the data about them for a short period of time.
We must confront the simple truth that heath can not be achieved or attained in dentistry without a collaborative relationship between mutually caring people with shared values and goals.
Its just a fact.
These conditions point to why today’s most forward looking dentists and practices are moving beyond just seeking attention as their primary marketing strategy. They’re acutely aware that it’s not enough to simply have people know about them and their products and services. They know that they need people to choose them, support them, work with them, and recommend them for reasons far deeper than “faster”, “cheaper”, and “it looks like a nice place”.
Are you you promoting health and healing, or is your philosophy focused around making money through primarily promoting reductionalism?
The future will certainly tell.
Paul A Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017
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