Survey Shows Dental Practices Optimistic For Coming Quarter

Published on : 1/12/2015

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 second edition of the quarterly Australian Dental Practice Business Conditions Survey which has just been released.

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 most recent edition has been released which provides an assessment of business conditions within dental practices for the first quarter of FY2015-16 and expectations for the second quarter of FY2015-16. 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 to 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 neither being downwards or upwards pressure.

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

 Current Business Conditions (FY2015-16 Quarter 1)  — 
    Number of patients seen Index: 38.4
    Number of new patients seen Index: 47.7
    Patients funded by government programs Index: 41.3
    Vacant appointment time Index: 61.6
    Dental product purchases Index: 35.5

 

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

Expected Business Conditions (FY2015-16 Quarter 2) —
   Number of patients expected Index: 68.9
   Number of new patients expected Index: 61.6
   Expected patients funded by government programs Index: 45.7
   Expected vacant appointment time Index: 36.6
   Expected dental product purchases Index: 54.3

 

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

Dental practices were experiencing changes in their businesses according to whether or not they had aligned themselves with particular health funds. Those practices that had been bought out noticed increased patient numbers, while those that did not have any particular allegiance were feeling the pinch of declined patient numbers;

Expectations of practices being busy for the coming quarter were optimistic as patients headed into the holiday period and had more time for individual and family dental care; and Economic circumstances continued to play a role for those practices reporting a declining number of people seeking dental and oral healthcare in certain geographic areas across the country.

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 job losses in an area, in such circumstances it is possible that patient demand across the entire dental and oral healthcare system increased.

This survey was undertaken over 7-16 October 2015 by eighty-five respondents from different practices across Australia, with the next survey to be undertaken in mid January 2016.

Source: Australian Dental Industry Association

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