ARD Survey Results July 2020
Thanks to those of you who completed our recent COVID-19 survey! Please see below for a synopsis of your responses. One of our Board members offered this MIT link that gives insight into our individual risk based on a series of health, age, and behavior questions. Here is a direct link to the UK COVID-19 Survival Calculator.
We’re looking forward to comments about your experiences with this pandemic.
ARD Survey Results July 2020
Our most recent survey of members gave insight into how the Covid pandemic is affecting our members. We had 49 responses.
- 70% are concerned about their health.
- 80% of respondents are aged 65+
- Those who were already retired before Covid, (March 2020) reported a range from no affect on their retirement to the common feelings of isolation and inability to pursue dreams. (Conversationally I hear many expressions of gratefulness for having retired before the pandemic.)
- Virtually all practicing respondents reported a decrease in scheduling and monetary production from less than 10% to 70%. One reported a decrease in revenue of over 90%.
- 30% of respondents retired pre-Covid. 12% retired as a direct result of Covid with no strong evidence of age being a factor.
- Regarding staff, 25% of respondents had staff leave permanently. It would have been interesting to know why.
- Two dentists were advised for health reasons to stop practicing.
- Almost 50% have made capital expense changes in their offices to deal with new guidelines. One expressed frustration that regulations are likely to change because of disparate regulatory agencies and rapidly changing science.
- All dentists report adequate space to allow for social distancing
- Scheduling reductions vary widely from less than 10% to 70%, with one reporting an over 90% reduction in scheduling.
- Production revenue is similarly reduced, although it is concentrated (56%) between a 31% -70% reduction.
- Surprisingly, 43% have not, or don’t plan to increase fees. 36% have or plan to raise fees less than 10%. This is in spite of a broadly recognized 31%-70% reduction in production. It is likely that it is too early to know the full financial impact of increased costs and reduced production. Adjustments to fees at this time may not compensate for long term net decreases in the bottom line.
- Hygiene procedures are taking 10-40% longer.
- We were surprised to find that there was an equal split between those wanting to retire earlier and those wanting to retire later than planned, although 80% felt they had adequate funds to retire now.
- Another interesting finding is that 77% are being less selective about finding a buyer for their practices, and 60% are planning to sell and walk away, not staying for a transition period.
- 73% feel their practice value has declined.
- Regarding PPE, only half felt that they had an adequate supply and 58% found the new equipment uncomfortable.
Although dentists are generally resilient when it comes to managing changes in dentistry, such as the AIDS epidemic decades ago, responses clearly revealed challenges and stress. Here are two comments:
“The entire practice of dentistry has changed, no longer being fun nor personable. It is difficult to build relationships without seeing people's faces. Statistics show that I, as a 75 year-old, am more at risk than younger dentists. Operations are costly and much less efficient. It is not worth the effort for me to continue.”
“Not enjoying practice with all the PPE requirements, precautions, patient screening, office changes etc. due to this COVID-19 pandemic.”
The large percentage of dentists willing to walk away, combined with being less selective about a buyer and a perception that practice values have decreased seems to point to a formula for DSO’s, and DMO’s to buy up practices quickly and inexpensively. Sadly, this may be another blow to private practice.
The new fuzzy regulations are time-consuming, difficult to decipher, and likely to change. Small group practices will be in the best position to navigate these turbulent waters. The personal attention and trust developed in this environment can lead to long lasting relationships.
Neil S. Hiltunen, D.M.D., F.A.G.D. President
Association of Retiring Dentists
July 10, 2020