– Dr Nupur Shrirao, Editorial for March 2022 issue (Volume 5, Issue 3)
Does competition affect the clinical decision-making of dentists? A geospatial analytical study done in Canada 1 found out that yes, it does! It was reported that dentists who perceived large competitive pressure from other dentists were relatively more aggressive in their treatment choices. This pressure was obviously seen in areas with high dentist density (i.e. more clinics within one km radius of the respondents’ clinic). This was expected.
But interestingly, dentists located in very low dentist density areas were also relatively more aggressive in their treatment choices.
What does this mean?
This means that, contrary to what we think, the high number of dentists around you, is not the reason for your treatment or practice choices, but it is the perceived pressure of ‘unhealthy’ competition, however small it is, which is the ultimate reason.
Competition exists in all fields, and dentistry is no exception. It is here to stay. To be honest, some level of competition is necessary to prevent stagnation and overconfidence. How to ensure that this competition is healthy, something which grooms the dentist to do better in his/her field and ultimately contribute to the betterment of the whole professsion as a whole?
Here are 3 ways (and 3 solutions) in which dental institutes, organisations and even dentists themselves can inculcate healthy competition in dentistry:
1. Introducing ‘MRP’ in dentistry – with a twist
We all buy products and instantly check the MRP before buying – the maximum retail price. As customers, the maximum retail price protects us from being looted. It is time we start MRP in dentistry too – but with a twist – the minimum retail price. As service providers, minimum retail price will protect us from the stooping down to unhealthy practices to stay in the market. Yes, treatment rate standardisation is the first step towards healthy competition. Some state branches of national dental bodies have attempted to prepare rate charts, but they have not been implemented properly. Dentists simply don't follow it.
How to implement MRP correctly? There are 3 possible solutions to this:
- Make it as local and geographically limited as possible
Urban rates will differ from rural rates, and rates within the cities will also differ according to the areas. Hence, making one state-wide list or one city-wide list will not work.
- Make it according to the level of specialisation.
It may seem controversial at first glance, but expecting the minimum rates of a BDS, MDS, Fellow and a foreign returned DDS to be the same is expecting too much. Additionally, fresher dentists with less than 2 years of experience after graduation, can form a separate column on paper with lower MRPs.
- Involve as many local dentists as possible.
Biggies sitting behind a table may not be well aware of the ground level situation. If your local body is inactive, get your neighbouring dentists together and make a list according to the majority.
2. Learning about ethical practices and legal marketing
Strict action against malpractices and unethical advertising are taken care of very well by local bodies. You can read here how DCI recently took strict action against at home dental services being offered, bypassing professional expertise of dentists.
But how can we prevent unethical practices and illegal marketing from happening in the first place? There are 3 possible solutions to this:
- Role of dental institutes and organizations.
Dental institutes must mandatorily introduce courses on ethical practices and legal marketing as a part of the curriculum. For passed out dentists, CDE courses on the same must be conducted. We live in a highly competitive world and this education is the need of the hour today.
- Delegating responsibility to an expert.
Unknowingly, we may sometimes make mistakes during our clinic promotional activity. Delegating your marketing and advertising to a professional dental marketing expert helps solve this problem, because they are well aware of the legalities and won't make such errors. They understand the meaning of healthy competition and cater to it most effectively.
- Self awareness and self study.
As a responsible dentist who must not act out of ignorance, regularly read up about what is legal and what is not in dental marketing, advertising and practices. We published an e-book called Dental Marketing the 101 guide, which was downloaded by 9k+ dentists and you can read it too, to be updated and upgraded. You can download your free e-book here.
At the same time, if you come across any company or corporate chain indulging in unethical practices, write letters and drop in emails to your national bodies. It costs nothing and it’s always worth a try.
3. Conducting/participating in exclusive dentist circles – at least digitally.
Healthy competition is possible only when you know who your competition is. Assuming the next door dentist as your ‘enemy’ may not always be the right approach, and sometimes you may also face pleasant surprises in the form of discussions and referrals. But socialising physically may be a luxury not every dentist can afford due to limitations of time, geography or pandemics.
How to conduct or participate in an exclusive dentist circle? There are 3 possible solutions to this:
- Closed online dentist forums
There are many online forums on Facebook and Instagram which are private groups for dentists. People regularly post their cases, doubts, material/instrument/equipment questions and get honest answers! This brings you together as brothers and sisters of the same field, and helps you understand what people are actually doing in their practices. www.dentalreach.today is one such gated community only for dentists where you can walk and talk dentistry. For starters, you can join our Facebook group, which is a closed group of 11k+ members, and make your own online social circle.
- Digital conferences
Webinars help you to upskill, but a string of webinars drawn into a conference, not only helps you know what's happening in the world of dentistry globally, but also connects you to like-minded individuals in the form of speakers or co-delegates – at your fingertips. You can read the success story of our last digital conference here.
- Online dental contests
Participating in digital dental competitions not only gives you the comfort of doing so in the comfort of your home, but keeps you on your toes! It lets you know where your level of work lies amidst the participants and helps you gauge your strengths and weaknesses as compared to your competitors.
At DentalReach, we regularly conduct such dental contests which are usually free to register but with exclusive prizes for winners. We recently concluded the DR Pronto Esthetic Challenge, in association with Pulpdent, USA, and are ready to launch the DR Surgical Strike Contest, an exodontia video contest under the mentorship of Dr Nishit Kumar Shah. For information and queries, please connect with Dr Zainab Kasid at email@example.com.
Special issues dedicated to the healthy competition we created recently!
When we conducted the DR Pronto Esthetic Challenge, we noticed a beautiful healthy competition amongst our participants, and decided to honour this brotherhood (and sisterhood) by dedicating two issues to their hard work. The first issue comprises of the following articles:
1. Dr Zainab Kasid- Contest organiser – about the DR Pronto Esthetic Challenge
The second special issue will be out next month. Happy competing the healthy way!
1. Ghoneim A, Yu B, Lawrence HP, Glogauer M, Shankardass K, Quiñonez C. Does competition affect the clinical decision-making of dentists? A geospatial analysis. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2020 Apr;48(2):152-162.
Did you read our February 2022 issue? The theme was: From Basics to Beyond!
You can read Our February 2022 special new year issue by clicking here.
>>> Up next: Stay tuned for the upcoming April issue! It will be an ‘Esthetic Special’ issue comprising of a case series by the DR Pronto Esthetic Challenge Challenge 2 winners!>>>
If you wish to contribute articles for our upcoming issues, get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.