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Dental practices step up as financial pressures threaten patient visits: CommBank Research

As dental practices across Australia grapple with the potential decline in patient visits amid ongoing financial concerns, many are taking proactive measures to ensure their services remain accessible and efficient.

According to the Dental Insights Report by CommBank Health and the Australian Dental Association, 78% of dental practices are worried about the economic factors that might discourage patients from scheduling dental appointments in the next 12 months.

Despite these cost-of-living pressures, some in the dental sector are cautiously optimistic. With 83% of dentists expecting further increases in operating costs in 2024, there is still a strong sentiment that conditions will improve. This is reflected in the 41% of dentists who anticipate a revenue increase.

The sentiment across practices is generally positive, with 60% confident about the current state of their business. This confidence is even more pronounced in regional areas compared to their metropolitan counterparts.

To address ongoing sector challenges, such as healthcare affordability, dental practices are taking a proactive approach to enhance performance. CommBank Health CEO, Albert Naffah, notes the encouraging signs of dental practices planning active steps to drive growth in the coming months.

The research highlights growth strategies that dental practices plan to implement. These include dedicating funds to marketing activities (81%), investing in, or upgrading clinical technologies (38%), and extending practice hours to offer evening appointments after 5pm (64%). Additionally, adapting systems and processes to improve efficiency and productivity is a top priority, sparking interest in data analytics applications for external benchmarking (47%), patient feedback (38%), and practice operations (37%).

While the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still emerging in dental practices, there is a significant interest in its future applications. Currently, the most common use of AI is in appointment scheduling (12%), but looking ahead, 70% of practices would like to use AI for patient education, 67% for data analysis and intelligence, and 63% for diagnostic assistance and inventory management.

The 2024 Dental Insights Report is based on a survey of 414 dental practices across Australia, conducted between October 27 and November 17, 2023. The survey aimed to examine operational and financial performance, strategic priorities, and outlook to inform benchmarking and planning among practice decision-makers.

As a supporting partner of the Australian Dental Association SA Branch, Hood Sweeney assists dental practices in navigating their financial needs in changing economic conditions. To find out how our Health team can work with your dental practice, contact Lisa Hickey -

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