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The Sharing Economy Is Coming To Dentistry

Now that we’re well into the life of Web 2.0 and all that it entails, we can look back over the past decade and see some distinct trends. Social networking paved the way for new functionality in the web. At the same time, economic recession and recovery gave rise to a new breed of independent worker. As the new economy and new technology shaped each other, the sharing economy gained ground.

There are many opinions about what the sharing economy includes, but a common theme among them is access. Whether it’s about loaning tools to neighbors, sharing a taxi to the airport, or renting a room for a weekend, today’s sharing economy allows us a new type of access to goods and services.

It’s been a wild ride in recent years. We’ve seen new businesses, like Airbnb and Uber, rise with the new economy and new technology. We’ve seen classic businesses change. And we’ve seen stagnant businesses get left behind (remember Blockbuster?). A report by Brookings shows that “the platform economy for rides and rooms is now sizable and growing rapidly in many larger metro areas.” There’s definite possibility in the new social/tech/economic landscape. Yet for some reason, we haven’t seen dental practices rise to the occasion.

Dentistry Hasn't Kept Up

There are many possible reasons that dentistry hasn’t established a niche in the sharing economy. An overarching theme is that healthcare businesses are slow to innovate. Working with traditional dental temp agencies comes with many disadvantages, such as inflexible long-term contracts and high markup fees.

If you’re a dentist, it’s likely that the clinical aspects of dentistry are what originally drew you in. Many dentists are clinicians first and business owners second. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it means they must be extra diligent in growing their businesses. Unfortunately, dental school does little to prepare dentists for practice ownership. A survey reported in the Journal of Dental Education shows that at graduation, many dentists feel ill prepared to manage a dental practice.

Another possibility is that dentistry, like other healthcare niches, has been held back by its traditional business practices. It can be hard to see a need for innovation in an industry that has always provided the same essential services to its consumers. That doesn’t mean that innovation isn’t necessary. It just means that healthcare providers can be slow to recognize the need for it.

Finally, it’s possible that the dental industry just isn’t first in the minds of today’s tech innovators. And who could blame them? With all the turmoil in U.S. health care, developing ideas and technology to support dental businesses may seem like an impossible task. However, not all developers are avoiding the industry. New technology is available for dental practices and dental professionals who are ready to take full advantage of sharing.

It'sTime 

Whatever the reason, dentistry is slow to adapt and take advantage of current climates. However, when there’s a need for change, change occurs. The modern view of employment has evolved. In every sector, people are turning to “gig” work in increasing numbers. The dental industry has every reason to adapt to these changes in the economy and the workforce.

Dental practices are finding it beneficial to hire temporary staff on an as-needed basis. At the same time, many dental professionals prefer to think of themselves as small businesses. They manage their own brands, serving multiple dental practices as their clients. This is where the sharing economy model makes perfect sense.

With high-tech online services, dental practices and dental professionals are empowered to come together and make their own connections. Cloud Dentistry is one of the cloud based services that has emerged in recent years. A dental practice that needs help for a few hours can easily connect with a dental professional with skills to share and schedule openings to fill. The sharing economy is about access, and today’s innovative tools put those who need help in touch with those who have time and talent.

It’s time for dental practices to become much more flexible and innovative. By efficiently filling openings, staffing to meet the needs of their patients, and insourcing specialty procedures, dental practices see increased growth and performance. All of this is facilitated by hiring platforms built on the sharing economy. The dental practice has the office space and the customer base. The dental professional has the skills and the time.

Changes Is A Sure Thing 

The changing economy means that dental practices must be flexible. The changing nature of work makes that flexibility easier. Although healthcare is lagging when it comes to the sharing economy, change will happen because it must. Practices and professionals are already taking advantage of new cloud-based hiring platforms, and they’re seeing the benefits. 

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Comment by Allen Gotora on March 25, 2017 at 3:55am

Dentistry has been doing every bit to rise from its current state & give a touch of good life to oral heath. Though from the society support should also come to take dentistry as a part of better life. 

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