There are good profits and there are bad profits in any business. The business of Dentistry is no different.
Bad profits are those made in an unethical or unfair manner that ultimately lead to bad outcomes. From my years of experience I’ve seen dentists chase the quick buck and I’ve seen the damage it causes to reputations and the bottom line. In fact chasing the bad profits is one of the most costly mistakes any business can make.
People lose what I call the BLT.
- They no longer Believe you,
- They no longer Like you, and most importantly
- They no longer Trust you.
Good profits are when you make money and provide more value than what a customer or patient expects to get.
For example, the other day, an 80-something year old man came in his 80 year old wife. She needed some root canal treatment, the total cost was about $4,300. I looked them both in the eye and asked “Is it really necessary for you to make this investment? Don’t you think it would be much more cost-effective and perhaps better care and service to remove this infected tooth and avoid the trauma and expense?”
When I heard, “Dr. Coughlin, we can’t afford it.” I told them that my opinion they should consider saving the money and have the extraction. For me it wasn’t even a question of affordability, it was about making the right clinical and ethical decision. And in my opinion, although I make my income doing root canals and crowns, the less expensive extraction was the best option given the patient’s age and medical history.
When the procedure was completed, the patient hugged me and she said, “I don’t know if I’ve ever met a healthcare professional so honest.”
That made me think. Could I really be the exception? The dentists and physicians I know don’t roll out of bed each morning, look in the mirror and ask with an evil smile “how can I take advantage of my patients today?”
Instead I believe that the increasing monetization of health care adds to the pervasive narrative that it’s just a commodity. So procedures are not always performed based on patient need, but rather on what will help the balance sheet – even if there is a less expensive alternative.
As medical and dental professionals and for that matter all healthcare providers, it’s up to us to do what’s best for our patients. The best way to do that is not look at them like customers – but people. Find out what they need and deliver it based on the value to them rather than yourself.
What you’ll find is that with word of mouth marketing you get the best results with the most power return in investment than any advertisement is likely to bring.