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A survey of U.S. dental practices has provided insights into practices’ sentiments on the impact of 2020, the industry, hiring, technology and overall business outlook for 2021. (Image: BalanceFormCreative/Shutterstock)

Vyne Dental releases state of the dental industry report 2021

By Vyne Dental
February 01, 2021

ATLANTA, U.S.: Vyne Dental, a recognized market leader in health care information exchange and electronic communication management, has announced the results of the Vyne State of the Dental Industry Report 2021. This comprehensive survey of over 400 dental practices in the U.S. sought to understand how they have transformed in 2020 and their perspectives headed into the new year. It considered the impact of 2020, hiring and the economy, technology, industry and overall practice outlook.

Impact of 2020

Dental practices faced significant challenges in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The greatest impact was financial (42%). Patient volume followed at 32%, and nearly half of respondents (47%) had to shift their investment priorities in 2020. It was discovered that 72% of dental practices surveyed did not offer teledentistry in 2020. Twenty-three percent of practices were considering teledentistry for 2021, and 62% said that they would not offer the service in 2021.

In terms of patients’ views on the resumption of dental services, 30% of practice leaders said their patients were actively seeking treatment or services, 21% said that patients were ready to resume treatment or services, and 56% said that patients were willing to resume if safety protocols were in place. Eight percent said that patients would not resume treatment or services until a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was available.

As a result of the pandemic, 8% of practice leaders may consider selling in 2021. Four percent may consider affiliation with a dental service organization, and 3% may consider merging with another practice. Just under 1% said that they were considering affiliation with a local hospital or health system. The majority of practices (84%) were considering other changes in 2021. When asked to specify these, responses included dropping in-network status with all insurance providers, expanding their services portfolio and offering in-house patient payment plans.

Hiring and the economy

Based on current economic conditions and patient demand, 46% of practices said that they were not planning to hire additional staff in 2021. Practices were also not planning to adjust current staffers’ schedules. Eighty-seven percent said that, based on current conditions, they were not planning to make part-time staff full-time staff, or vice versa.

Regarding perspectives on whether recruitment may be challenging for practices in 2021, the responses were split. Forty-eight percent of respondents said that they felt it would be challenging and 51% that they did not think it would be challenging.

Technology

When asked whether their practices planned to invest in practice management technology in 2021, 17% said that they likely would, 65% said it was unlikely and 17% were unsure. Concerning software investment in 2021, 24% were planning to spend less than $299/month, 11% intended to spend less than $500/month and almost 40% were not sure what their practice planned to invest in technology. The top three motivators for seeking new software in 2021 were reduction of paperwork (16%), modernization of the office (14%) and lowering of costs of current software solutions (13%).

Industry

To navigate changes within their practices and the industry, 43% look to the American Dental Association for guidance, 29% to their local or state dental associations and 13% to industry publications.

Practices said that their preferred method of communication with patients in 2021 will be text message (53%). Email came in at 24%, and phone was the preferred communication channel of just 19% of practices.

Practice outlook

Patient volume was the top challenge practices anticipated for 2021 (44%). Hiring and staffing (19%) and industry updates and regulations (17%) were the second and third challenges identified. When asked what actions could make their practices more productive or profitable in 2021, 38% of respondents said marketing, 31% said fewer coding or industry changes and 26% said technology adoption. Eighty-six percent of practice leaders were confident (35%) or very confident (51%) in their practices’ future. Just 13% were somewhat confident or neutral about their practices’ outlook.

Steve Roberts, Vyne Dental president, said: “The Vyne State of the Dental Industry Report 2021 was designed to gain perspectives from the industry that tell a story about what practices have gone through in 2020, and how they are feeling going into 2021. These insights are not only valuable to Vyne Dental as we look to improve how we support practices in revenue cycle success, but also to the industry as we work to improve dental practices and facilitate better patient care.”

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