To kick off the new year, Kevin and I sit down and discuss the top worries for dental practices heading into 2024, including team retention, insurance challenges, and concerns about the economy. Kevin emphasizes the importance of proper onboarding for new team members and the need for ongoing training and development. We also highlight the role of technology, particularly AI, in improving practice efficiency and profitability.
- Proper onboarding and ongoing training are essential for retaining team members and ensuring their success in the dental practice.
- Dental practices should carefully evaluate their participation in insurance plans and consider the impact on their business and patients.
- The economy and the upcoming election year are factors that may influence dental practices’ financial decisions and spending.
- AI and technology, such as CAD/CAM and lasers, are expected to be major trends in the dental industry in 2024, improving practice efficiency and patient care.
00:00 Introduction and Welcome
01:12 Kevin’s Influence in the Dental Industry
02:28 Top Worries for Dental Practices in 2024
06:23 Importance of Proper Onboarding for New Team Members
09:08 Building and Retaining a Strong Dental Team
12:33 Challenges with Insurance and Business Models
16:45 Concerns about the Economy and Election Year
23:25 The Buzz around AI and Technology in 2024
28:06 Conclusion and Future Plans
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Hey, welcome my friends to 2024. This is our first podcast of 2024. And what better way for me to kick off the year than one of the most influential people in the dental industry and also love of my life, my husband, life partner, and sweetheart who is actually downstairs in his office. I’m upstairs in my office.
The one and only Kevin Henry, welcome.
Kevin Henry (00:35.222)
Why, thank you. I rung in New Year’s Eve with you and now I get to do your first podcast of 2024. It’s just, you know, a lot of firsts already this year.
I know, I know. Well, thank you for ringing in the New Year with our audience. I appreciate it very much because we are going to dive into, you know, a very important topic, but a great way to kick off the New Year is, you know, what kind of trends are we going to see in 2024? And of course, you know, one of the most important reasons I wanted to bring you on is because
You are one of the most important people in my life. However, you also, well, I should say, and you also are so influential in the dental industry. Being editor in chief of Dr. By Cuspid, you’re very involved with the Dental Trade Alliance, DTA, and you have your ear to the ground with all of the dentistry’s latest juicy gossip and trends and…
you know, numbers and all of those things that make our dental practices go round. And, uh, so it was, it was, you know, an easy choice to have you kick off the this year’s podcast. So thank you.
Kevin Henry (01:53.078)
I appreciate it. Yeah, I’m ready to dive in and kind of, let’s talk about some of the things that your listeners and viewers need to know in 2024.
Well, I know that before we came online, you were talking to me about a recent survey that Dr. Bicuspid did. And so why don’t you kind of just start off by talking about maybe just the top three things. You did a survey about what dental practices are kind of worried about, or what are they maybe kind of a little bit hesitant with about what’s coming into 2024.
Like tell us maybe just the top three things that came out of that survey that you recently did.
Kevin Henry (02:34.314)
You know, you always joke with me that I’m the optimist of the family, right? Uh, you know, you’re the optimist. You’re the realist, but for this doctor by cuspid survey, yeah, it was, it was important for us to try to, uh, pick our readers minds about what they’re worried about heading into the next year. So we didn’t ask what they were hopeful about. We asked what they were worried about and the three big choices that came back in the survey and we’re going to have this article on drbicuspid.com. So certainly encourage you to read that.
Kevin Henry (03:02.958)
Number one, and this probably won’t surprise anybody, is a team. You know, how do you keep your team together? Hiring issues, you know, all the things that really worried us in 2023. Well, guess what? They’re worrying us again in 2024 as well. So that was overwhelmingly the number one answer that is top of mind for dentists right now is trying to keep the team together. And if they lose a team member, where does a new one come from? The second one, which maybe was a little bit of a surprise to me, was insurance.
and what will insurance do for their businesses and their patients, obviously, but how will insurance impact their businesses in 2024? You know, you and I both heard so much about, oh, people going insurance free and leaving PPOs, you know, and that was a big thing in 2023. And I think 2024, a lot of people are going to be examining their business models to see what insurance really is doing for them, for their patients, and is it worth still
participating in those plans. And then the third thing, which is a little esoteric maybe, but it’s also something that is a little further down the road. I was surprised that our readers told us that the economy was a worrisome factor for them. And they’re a little worried that we are heading into an election year. There’s obviously going to be a lot of talk about what.
Kevin Henry (04:26.798)
could happen with the election, what may happen with the election. And a lot of people, I’m hearing from both the General Trade Alliance side of things, as well as through our survey, that a lot of people may be holding back a little bit on their spending just to see what the economy will do in 2024. And is there going to be a need to kind of hold some of that money back? So those are the three things that we’re gonna be talking about in our current article. And maybe these are things that you’re.
subscribers and listeners and customers are hearing as well.
I think you’re 100% spot on. And I will definitely link to that article in our show notes so people have easy access to it. So let’s take those three things and just kind of, maybe deep dive just a little bit on each one, touch a little bit on each one, because I think the team, bringing the team together is really important. And we see that a lot in our members. We have a membership in…
And I see that a lot in our members. You know, we are always seeing new team members coming on board, you know, diving into our courses and, you know, how do we onboard new team members? And, you know, that’s where Bonnie and I really get into the weeds with our teams is helping them make sure that their teams are educated, onboarded properly.
Because sometimes I see a lot where dental practices, they’re so anxious and they’re so almost wanting to hire somebody so quickly that they forget that they need to onboard this person the proper way and not just throw them out to the sharks. Cause then they feel like they’re swimming without a life jacket on and they don’t know where to start and they don’t know what their role is and they don’t know.
what their tasks are and what they’re accountable for. And I feel like you bring on a new team member and you kind of just, here’s what you need to do every day. And they’re like, okay, well, I’ll do the best I can. So what do you think about that? Do you feel like team members are kind of, they’re brought in into a new practice, but they’re not really on boarded?
Kevin Henry (06:48.254)
Well, and to me, it’s not even just a new practice. This is a new career for a lot of people. This is changing over from banking or waiting tables to becoming a part of the dental industry. And so the learning curve is steep right now. And you know.
Kevin Henry (07:05.914)
You know, I work with dental assistants all over the country. That’s one of my passions. And I remember a few years ago, the whole debate was, well, is a dental assistant on the job trained or did he or she go to school? And then that kind of gave you a base level as far as what they needed to learn in your practice. Well, now that has switched completely. It’s has this person worked in the dental industry before or not.
Kevin Henry (07:28.078)
And that’s the big question. And so I think you’re absolutely right. Training is a big thing, but it’s also you have to have the right training in place and really think about, you know, you and I always talk about writing things in crayon because it has to be simple and you have to gear people up very quickly. And as you said, you can’t just throw them to the sharks because a lot of times some of the lingo that we use daily in the dental industry, they have no idea what you’re talking about, none.
I’m going to go to bed.
Yeah, agreed. You know, and I’ve been doing some research for my upcoming, for an upcoming presentation that I have and, and the cost of replacing an employee is just astronomical to the business, you know, it’s so expensive to bring on a new employee with, you know, with training and, and if we just did like a consistent training program.
with our employees, keep them up to speed on new technology, give them new skills. That’s what our younger generation really wants is they want those new skills. They wanna be kept, they want their mind to keep moving, keep moving forward. They want advancement. They wanna feel like they’re part of something bigger. And I feel like a lot of times our dental practices kind of go back to
Well, this is how we’ve always done it. Or, you know, we’re just going to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing. But if we keep advancing their skills and keep their mind growing, you know, we will retain team members longer in the long run if we do that.
Kevin Henry (09:08.254)
Yeah, you’re, you’re bridging right now between hiring and keeping, which is a really important bridge to do. But it’s also something that, you know, and you and I both heard about all these offices that have these team building activities and they go out and they, they go to conferences together. You know, they do all these things to build the team. But what you said, I’m going to go is really important. Building the team happens every day. It is about making sure everybody’s on the same page with technology. It’s about everybody feeling like that they’re moving forward in their career road and stuck in a rut.
Kevin Henry (09:38.238)
And so I think when a dental practice is thinking about keeping your team together, it’s about making sure that all of you are moving down the same path at the same time and that nobody’s left behind. And so team wide technology, you know, you and I both see when there’s times that the dentist will say, well, just the hygienists and I need to learn this or just the front office needs to know this now, you know, actually everybody needs to know this. And I think that it’s really important today more than ever that
Kevin Henry (10:06.978)
people don’t feel like they’re excluded from a certain part of your practice.
I love that you just said that because I, you know, I’m a trainer by trade. I mean, it’s what I do every single day. And, and, you know, when I let the doctors know, you know, when, when I come in to work with your office, the full team has to be there. And, you know, and the, and the doctor’s like, wow, you know, that’s, that’s a big investment. I’m like, it is, but you will see amazing results when you have your whole team there.
learning at the same time, answering questions at the same time, you know, communicating together, learning the same verbal skills. I mean the investment, yes, but you will see amazing ROI when you involve your entire team with the training process and all of that. I just see amazing results when we do it that way.
Kevin Henry (11:00.33)
And I think the verbal skills goes into the second and third point as well, the insurance and the, the economy side of things. You know, we have to be able to arm our team members with the knowledge and the verbiage and the confidence to talk about money right now and not be afraid to tackle the subject, but actually talk to patients and be knowledgeable and kind of be their Sherpa for lack of a better term, leading them down the path of
Here’s what your insurance does for you. Here’s why this is out of pocket. And yes, here’s options for spending out of pocket. We have care credit, we have patient financing. We have things that you don’t have to pay everything upfront if that’s a worry for you. It can be a monthly installment. And today’s generation, our daughter’s age is…
Kevin Henry (11:49.538)
they know monthly installments and they are okay with paying things off in monthly installments rather than all at once. It’s almost second nature to this next generation that is really coming in as the key consumers in our industry and the economy.
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree. So let’s segue into number two was insurance on your worries for next year. And like you said, I have a lot of doctors that I’m working with that are bowing out of PPOs this year. They did it last year, they’re doing it more this year. And because they are strapped, you know, they their overhead is skyrocketing.
because the salaries are outweighing what they’re paying their team. The salaries are outweighing what they’re getting paid by these PPO plans. And so the doctors are really having to make some tough choices with insurance and are they gonna stay in? Are they gonna go out?
Kevin Henry (12:54.838)
But they can’t make those choices based on their gut. You know, you always say numbers tell a story and it’s about the data. And, you know, I know, you know, you and I have talked about numerous instances that we’ve both heard about, both work with, where people thought they knew the numbers and then when they were presented with the data, they didn’t. So any kind of decision like that, it can’t be, well, they’re doing it down the street, so it must be the right thing to do. No, it’s gotta be the right thing for your practice and the numbers have to back that up.
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, I have a doctor that I’m working with and he has a hygienist, he’s rehiring, he’s hiring a couple of new hygienists. And I’m like, okay, what is your hygiene goal? All right, let’s figure out what your hygiene production goals are. So when we hire a hygienist, if she wants 60 bucks an hour, then we have to justify that with, okay.
I’m willing to pay you this salary, and this is what I expect from you. And so there has to be this negotiation with the hygienist being hired and not just being able to do hour long pro fees for $75. A pro fee, we have to set some production goals in place so that our overhead numbers also stay in place.
so that we can justify those salaries if we are in network with insurance plans.
Kevin Henry (14:26.302)
And honestly, these three goals or these three worries, I should say, that we were talking about, they’re all kind of intertwined and they all have two things that they’re based. Number one is communication. And number two is the actual data, the numbers. And, and, you know, a lot of times when you look at the data, it gives you the answers and some of these worries that we’re talking about, especially the monetary ones, it can help alleviate some of those worries because you know how your business is doing. You know, as you said, if you can afford that hygienist salary,
Kevin Henry (14:56.216)
or that raise for the assistant or the office manager who’s asking for it. And I think one thing that is really important is you can’t just cave into demands for raises to keep your team together.
Kevin Henry (15:11.646)
you have to know is it something that you can actually afford. And when you and I both know doctors are going home without a paycheck, you and I both know that there are practices that are running on some pretty tight margins. You can’t just give in because you’re worried about losing a team member. It has to be what’s best for everybody involved not just one person.
Exactly, exactly. Numbers do tell a story and so many of our doctors make these subjective decisions and when they really should be looking at things very objectively with good data and also, you know, bringing the team into the mix when they are sharing numbers. But that’s like a whole
I agree. I mean, the economy is always top of mind for everyone. And you know how much you spend on groceries and gasoline is different all across the country. You know, as recently in Seattle for Christmas, spending a few days with my daughter and, you know, I paid like 489 or 529 or something for gas. And and, you know, I haven’t seen gasoline that high anywhere.
Washington state’s gas prices are that high. So how much you pay for things is different all across the country. And so, you know, our dental practices also are having that burden as well, you know, all across the country. It’s different.
Kevin Henry (16:45.45)
It is, and it’s a little different than the $259 I spent to fill up in Tulsa. You know, yeah, there’s a little bit of difference for sure. But, but again, you know, the economy is something that there’s, there’s something I talked about on my last dental assistant nation podcast, where I talked about the things you can control and versus the things you can’t and how you react to both.
Kevin Henry (17:07.974)
And the economy is honestly not something that you, me, any of your listeners are going to be able to control. It’s about how you react to it and how you prepare for it. And I really do think you know what the worries of your patients are, because if it’s worrying you, it’s probably worrying your customers too. And so what are some talking points that you can have for your team and you, whenever you walk into that operatory and Mrs. Jones needs that crown, but Mrs. Jones doesn’t want to pay for that crown.
Kevin Henry (17:37.834)
What are some talking points that you can have?
That’s a really great point. I love that you brought that up because that would be a really great beginning of the year, team meeting, because if that’s the number three worry, you’re right, it’s worrying our patients and our team. So we need to come up with some verbal skills to offset that worry with our patients. And you and I both,
love what Care Credit offers. You know, we both work really closely with Care Credit when it comes to their offerings for financing for patients. And you know, what I love is the integration with Care Credit in the Dendrix ledger. So it makes it really easy for my teams to use the Care Credit, you know, application or the processing.
it right directly in the patient ledger. So I think that would be a really great beginning of the year team meeting is to talk about, what can we offer our patients as far as maybe financing or are we gonna tweak our in office payment plans at all? What are we going, what are our talking points when we’re talking to patients about treatment?
Kevin Henry (18:57.834)
And I think so many practices out there don’t like to talk about money, don’t like to talk about patient financing. They put the care credit brochures way over in the corner. That way, you know, they’re out, but they’re not really noticeable. And I think that, you know, if there’s a new year’s resolution and I’m not a, I’m not a resolution guy, but if there’s resolutions that I think everybody in the practice should have, it’s to be that money is a more comfortable subject in 2024 and not just with your patients.
but also your team members. I think all the way around, I think, in my lectures, I always talk about how I think the team needs to know the numbers. I think they need to know how the business is doing just as much as the doctor does because it changes the mindset whenever you know, that doctor’s not taking home $500,000 and sailing on his or her yacht every weekend. You’re all in this together to make sure that business grows so you all can enjoy the benefits of it.
Kevin Henry (19:56.734)
And so I do think those verbal skills that you talked about, they can be put into place every day, just in those morning huddles talking about, hey, here’s our goal today, here’s where we fell short yesterday, here’s how we can do better today. Not in a blaming way, but in a, let’s do what’s rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s work together on this and make sure that we’re all hitting the goal today.
I agree. And I think it’s also important that, you know, you and I were talking before we came on today about how the younger generation, they are very comfortable with making payments. You know, that they’re very comfortable with paying online, using their mobile phone to make their payments. And, you know, going back to the care credit conversation is, you know, care credit makes it very easy for our patients to make payments. And…
You know, probably the biggest pushback I get about care credit or any patient financing is, oh my gosh, their merchant fees are so high. I’m not gonna use them because I’m losing money. And I’m like, no, time out here. You need to look at what your accounts receivable looks like right now. Because if you have money sitting on the books, that’s more than 90 days past due, you’ve already lost.
45% of the value of that money. So if you would have just taken care credit from the very beginning and paid the, I don’t know, six to 9% that they charge, I’m not sure exactly what it is right now, but if you would have just paid the care credit percentage from the beginning and had that money on the day of service, then you would actually be ahead. And so I really…
I love trying to change that mindset about patient financing because it can be a good thing for practices.
Kevin Henry (21:46.186)
Well, that goes back to doing things with your gut versus doing things with your head and knowing the numbers and knowing, knowing exactly how much your patient financing costs versus that 90 day number, you know, things like that. Those are the business decisions that, you know, a lot of dentists don’t like to do because it’s not dentistry and it’s not what they went to school to do. And you know, I don’t, you know, personally, I’m not a numbers guy at all, but that’s where I rely on experts. I know. Hard to believe. I know.
Yes, I agree.
Kevin Henry (22:15.362)
But that’s where I rely on experts to tell me, you know, what’s going on, what I need to be doing to be better at taxes and everything else. And I think that’s what we’ve all got to be doing is not just guessing with numbers, but actually knowing them and going to bed at night, knowing that, yeah, what I think is actually reality.
Yeah, so find somebody that is good at helping you go through numbers. So if you’re listening, you know, it’s important to know your numbers. Okay. So we talked about your top three that came out of your Dr. By Cuspid survey. Now, of course I’m a technology girl. You know, I love new technology. I love diving into new things. I’m a software trainer, so I’m always about software and technology.
Kevin Henry (22:55.886)
Just give it to me, I love it. So, since you have your ear to the ground, I know that you heard a few things like, recently we’re at Greater New York Dental Meeting, and tell us a little bit about what the buzz is right now and what we’re gonna see a lot more of in 2024 when it comes to technology.
Kevin Henry (23:25.578)
I think the buzz is AI. I really do. I think that certainly CAD cam lasers, you know, a lot of the technology that has been in the industry for a long time is still going to keep developing, still going to be a big part of what happens in 2024 with the whole digital workflow.
Kevin Henry (23:41.206)
but AI is going to be the hot topic. And it’s going to be, how does it practice in the middle of Manhattan, New York, and in Manhattan, Kansas? How do they both use that AI to actually help their practice be more profitable and to help their patients have better oral health? And there’s a lot of companies right now that are out there who are talking about AI, how it’s going to work into your software.
Kevin Henry (24:06.838)
You know, you probably know that very well, but I think that that’s something that, one thing I heard at New York, I overheard, and I’m curious to see when this happens is that AI will have its chat GBT moment at some point in 2024. And what was meant by that was that, you know,
In 2023, chat, GPT and those AI platforms really burst on the scenes and all of us started trying to figure out how can we use AI to boost our business? Can it help us write this? Can it help give us ideas for marketing? You know, and so we were using AI that way. Now, what if all of a sudden in middle of 2024, we all start going, Oh wait, AI could help us with this in the practice. AI could help us with this in the practice.
Yeah, I agree. Yeah.
Kevin Henry (24:49.918)
And so I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for this year is when AI really takes that next step and is embraced by the, by the majority of the dental industry.
Yeah, and I really think that when AI can help with, you know, the number two thing on your survey with insurance challenges, you know, how can AI help, help get our claim paid because we have the right x-ray and we have the right narrative, and we have the right, you know, diagnosis code attached, you know, when I think when I think AI can help us write better.
clinical notes for, you know, write those soap notes really good so that there’s no question, you know, that we are, you know, doctors know I’m always going to do the best thing for my patient. But when it’s, but when it has to be documented in a way so that it gets through an insurance, you know, auditor or something, when we have to have the right x-ray, you know, attached, all of that, I think.
I think that’s really where I’d like to see AI help our dental teams to get the right documentation on the claim so that there’s no question that this claim gets paid and that claims are getting paid on the first go around. I’d really like to see that happen.
Kevin Henry (26:13.962)
And how much stress would that eliminate from the team? How much would that help work the cashflow? You know, all these different things. AI is not going to take anybody’s job. AI is only going to take away some of the things that are, I think, holding back people in their jobs. I really do think that it’s going to be something that is going to help boost productivity in 2024.
I agree with you 100%. I’m excited to see what happens with AI. Cause right now I’ve really like for me, I’ve seen it with, you know, detect AI with Dendrix imaging center. And you know, that’s where I’m seeing it definitely with detecting carries and detecting fractures that maybe the naked eye can’t see, which is great. And I think it’s been helping with case acceptance and patients really seeing the wow factor when it comes to looking at their imaging.
But I think the game changer is going to be when it helps the admin team or the dental team to really help them write better clinical notes, identify the right imaging or the right x-ray to go on the claim, and help that claim through adjudication is really where it’s going to be a game changer.
Kevin Henry (27:31.254)
Yeah, there’s so many different little touches that I think AI is going to have in 2024. So for all the worries that we talked about at the start, you know, there is that positive, I think, about how technology is going to make our lives a lot better in 2024 and how it’s going to make, I hope, dental proxies more efficient, more profitable. And at the end of the day, doing things, taking, let me say it this way, taking away the things that some of your dental team members don’t exactly love to do.
We want them to fall in love with their job more, stay in this industry, stay a part of your practice. And so hopefully AI works hand in hand with that. Yes, absolutely.
Well, cheers to that. I’m looking forward, I am looking forward to 2024. And thank you so much, Kev, for being my first guest of 2024. You were just, you’re invaluable information. And I will put a link to that article that we talked about and a link to if they wanna reach out to you. So if anyone wanted to reach out to you direct,
what’s the best way to contact you.
Kevin Henry (28:36.694)
Uh, probably Kevin@Kevinspeaksdental.com. That’s a lot shorter than my doctor by Dr. Bicuspid email address. So we’ll just say that, but Kevin and Kevin speaks. No.com for sure. And just so you know, I’m actually going to link this podcast into a doctor by cuspid article as well, because I know this podcast is going to be doing some great things with doctor by cuspid in 2024, and I’m very excited about that.
Okay, sounds good.
I’m, oh, I know. So just so everybody knows, we’re going to be part of the, um, the Hank podcast network, uh, that’s going to be just exploding in 2024. We have some of the best podcasters in the dental industry as part of our network. So you’re going to see and hear a lot more from, um, a lot more dental industry experts as guests on my podcast. I’m going to be guests on other people’s podcasts. So.
We’re going to be doing a lot of cross podcasting with lots of industry experts in 2024. So I’m excited.
Kevin Henry (29:34.378)
Yep, it’s gonna be awesome for sure. Now, thanks for having me on and I will look forward to 2024 with you as it turns out. So there. Yep.
All right, thank you, baby. All right, thank you, my friends. Thank you for spending a little bit of your precious time with me today. And I look forward to watching your journey in 2024 of becoming a Dentrix super user and a high performing dental team.