Henry Ford was the industrial giant whose mighty assembly line created a new Model T every three minutes. The first car built with interchangeable parts, it was everyman’s vehicle, an affordable taste of luxury previously available only to the wealthy. In its day the Model T owned America’s roads, with millions of them instantly recognizable thanks to Henry’s firm policy on color: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants,” Ford said, “so long as it is black.” It goes without saying that there’s vast utility in assembly line thinking, uniform procedures and cost-cutting measures that streamline processes and make them more economical for everyone. But it’s also worth mentioning that there might be some things - dentistry, for one example - that might not lend themselves to the ruthless task-oriented focus of the assembly line.
Online Dental Auctions: How Should We Feel About Them?
Welcome to the 21st century. On one hand it’s impossible to argue with it - patients like me want that pricing transparency, and I like getting a chance to set dentists up one beside the other so I can compare. But that’s the problem - I can’t compare them except on the dollar cost. I’m not a dentist, so I’m not competent to diagnose myself, nor to understand the differences between one dentist’s quality, training and skill and those of any other dentist. Some procedures might sound simple - a “Fluoride Treatment” seems innocuous enough, and I might safely guess that it’s more or less the same from practice to practice. But a “Bone Graft?” “TMJ Services?” Am I, or is any average patient, competent to assume in the first place that I understand these things, in the second that they’re all alike, and finally that I can choose a provider based only on the dollar cost?
Does “One Size Dentistry” Fit All?
Tempting as it might be to bargain-hunt, patients need to keep in mind that price must be one of the least reliable indicators for quality dental care. And this presents a dilemma for both dentists and patients. This trend isn’t going away, especially in an economy more attentive than ever to squeezing dollars for every penny of value. Dentists have to find ways to communicate what real value means, and patients have to find the time to learn more as vigilant, responsible consumers.
We’re looking at the future here, and we all need to adapt to it because it’s not going away. Caution is called for from both sides. Dentists don’t want to be mechanics; patients don’t want to be machines. When you look at these Web sites, you can’t help but feel as though you’re looking at a massive thoroughfare jammed with Model Ts. They’re all the same color, all the same under the hood. But the drivers at the wheel aren’t machinery. Some of them drive like experts, and others not quite so well. In which of these cars would you want to be the passenger?
On behalf of McKenzie Management, David Clow consults with dental professionals on practice culture, case acceptance, and patient expectations.
David Clow is a writer/consultant for Fortune 100 companies. His book, A Few Words from the Chair, is the first book written by a patient for dental professionals and students and is available here.
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