Be Careful What You Wish For

  • by Andy Alas, DDS, DDS
  • Apr 7, 2017, 15:13 PM
You’ve heard dentists say, “I want to be busier.”

But have you noticed how much busier you are these days? Yes, dental practice owners are busier than ever. Perhaps they’re not always treating patients, but they’re definitely busier.

Each of us probably has an extra, unpaid part-time job. Like most things in life, being busier came about slowly. This dawned on me when I began to spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen long after my family had gone to sleep.

Here is the premise: Why would a corporation pay someone to accomplish several tasks when it could, instead, have a highly educated doctor do it for free? We, as dentists, are now doing jobs once held by others.

I first noticed this trend several years ago with concert tickets. Some of you may be old enough to remember standing in line to purchase tickets to see your favorite artist. Then the internet came along. Now, you don’t have to physically stand in line. However, you do print the ticket using your own computer and ink. Now, you pay a “service charge” for the privilege of doing this. You are now doing a job once held by someone else. Of course, the ticket companies said this would lead to cost savings that would be passed on to you, the fan. I don’t think it has quite worked out this way.

As far as being a dentist, it used to be that my office business insurance policies were audited once every few years. My turn would come around after several years because it was too expensive for the insurance companies to audit everyone each year. They would have to hire someone to contact me, receive whatever information I had to supply, analyze it, etc. This, of course, cost them money. Not anymore. They can now have a person holding a doctorate degree do this for free each and every year. They require me to log in each year and input all of the numbers for them. It requires no effort on their part, no real expense. We, as dentists, have become their unpaid data-entry professionals.

Remember the days when you would call payroll? Someone would take your data and process your payroll. Now, either you do it on your computer, or your staff does it on the web. You either have become the payroll specialist, or you pay for one on your staff. Again, you are doing the job once held by someone else.

Even companies that you pay to help you keep up with government regulations have joined the game. They used to send you the printed updates for you to include in your office handbooks. Now they just send you a letter with the links for you to locate and print them. Yes, you do the work of printing and collating all of this documentation. You perform a job once held by someone else.

Recently, I had the State Department of Radiological Safety contact me for an audit. The state wanted to make sure our X-ray machines were up to par. No problem. I asked, “When do you want to come in to inspect our X-ray machines?” No, instead, I was sent all the materials so that I can expose the special film myself and mail it back. Again, the state either has a highly educated doctor do the job for free or has this same doctor cover the salary of the person doing the job that was once held by someone else.

Lastly, we’ve all had the same experience while traveling by airplane. It used to be that a travel agent would acquire your flight ticket. Once at the airport, someone would check in your luggage by placing that destination sticker around your luggage handle, then print your boarding pass.

These days, why pay all of those people when the airport can have you do it for free? Now, you purchase your tickets online, you print them, you print your own boarding pass and, once you’re at the airport, you tag your own luggage. As I’ve often said to my wife, “Pretty soon, they’ll have me flying the 747 myself.” Here I am preparing for that day:

Flight Simulator

(The gentleman on the right is a 20-year airline pilot. I’m the guy on the left. Sure, it’s a flight simulator, but I’m getting ready nonetheless.)

You’ve often heard dentists complain about not being busy enough. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it!”
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