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Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey

Published on : 5/8/2015

Individual dental practices are reporting a decline in the number of patients seen but are confident that things will improve over the coming quarter. These are the key findings of the quarterly Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey which was published for the first time this month.

Key Issues For The Dental Industry

The Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey is designed to provide market intelligence on current business conditions within dental practices across Australia on a quarterly basis. It provides guidance on current patient number trends, expectations for the coming quarter as well as sales of dental products to dental practices. Published by the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA), the first edition has been released which provides an assessment of business conditions within dental practices for the last quarter of FY2014-15 and expectations for the first quarter of FY2015-16. The survey will be undertaken and published on a quarterly basis.

The current edition of the report can be downloaded free of charge from the link below:

Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey Report

Survey participants are asked questions on a number of key metrics within dental practices which are placed into a model that produces guidance on upwards or downwards pressure as measured on an index of 0 to 100. An index reading of 0 means that the pressure is entirely downwards and an index reading of 100 means that the pressure is entirely upwards, while an index reading of 50 indicates stable conditions, with there being neither downwards nor upwards pressure.

For the last quarter of FY2014-15, the key indices for current business conditions within dental practices were as follows:

Current Business Conditions (FY2014-15 Quarter 4)  

Number of patients seen                             Index: 39.4

Number of new patients seen                     Index: 44.6

Patients funded by government programs  Index: 40.5

Vacant appointment time                            Index: 65.5

Dental product purchases                           Index: 37.5

The survey also seeks guidance on expectations for the coming quarter and the overall sentiment was positive with respondents expecting stable to improving business conditions in dental practices.

For the first quarter of FY2015-16, the key indices for expected business conditions within dental practices were as follows:

Expected Business Conditions (FY2015-16 Quarter 1)  

Expected number of patients                                                       Index: 55.0

Expected number of new patients                                               Index: 52.5

Expected number of patients funded by government programs  Index: 42.2

Expected vacant appointment time                                              Index: 47.8

Expected dental product purchases                                             Index: 43.6

The figures quoted above are those collated at a national level and the report also provides a breakdown across geographic regions.

In addition to providing sentiment on current and future business conditions via the index reading for the key metrics, further guidance is also provided in the report as survey respondents can volunteer information on the factors that are influencing business conditions within their practices. The report for the current edition of the Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey provides a snapshot of these which includes:

Recurring Themes In Survey Respondents’ Comments     

  • Established practices were experiencing weakening business conditions as a result of new       practices opening in their area;
  • The lack of consumer confidence is causing patients to put off treatment; and
  • Practices reporting an increase in patient numbers attributed this to marketing programs and / or the implementation of electronic patient management systems.

It is important to note that the Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey provides guidance on the sentiment of current and future business expectations within individual practices but does not necessarily provide guidance across the entire sector. For example, although the survey suggests that there was a weakening in patient demand for services due to the opening of a new practice in their immediate vicinity thus the existing practice lost patients to the new practice, in such circumstances it is possible that patient demand across the entire dental and oral healthcare system increased.

This survey was undertaken over 7-19 July 2015 by 203 respondents from different practices, with the next survey to be undertaken in early October 2015.

Source: Australian Dental Industry Association

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