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10 Ways to Get out of Network

May 20, 2013

Filed under: Article,Business of Dentistry,Happiness — Tags: , , — Barry @ 9:40 AM

images-1In previous posts I have promoted the idea of autonomy.  I am big on autonomy for may reasons.  Firstly, I believe most people go into dentistry to be the masters of their own destiny.  I know I did, but that was a long time ago.  I don’t know what motivates people these days.  One thing I do know is that if a dentist wants to be the very best he can be then having autonomy and the ability to make his own decisions is important.

Being in a network takes some of that independence away.  I know dentistry is heading in a direction that will change the way most of us practice, but I do believe there will always be room at the top.

Years ago getting out of network and building an insurance free practice was a lot easier, there was less traffic on the road less traveled.  And more patients looking for a ride.  These days getting out of network will require a bigger commitment.  Here is my list of things you can do to build a career of freedom and autonomy.  You may not get wealthier, but you will be happier.

  1. Become lean and mean.  In other words build the policies and systems in your practice that keep your expenses down.  By not being sub-servant to large monthly expenses, you can get to do the dentistry of your choice.  Don’t be lured into more expense by manufacturers looking to sell you the latest equipment if your practice doesn’t warrant the expense.  Your patients come to you for your care, skills and judgement.  Being hi-tech is only one factor that people judge your service by…dependability, reliability, competence and empathy come way before the expensive toys.  You would be amazed at how many staff members it takes to produce significant dentistry, especially when time management systems and financial policies are in place.

  2. Take more time with your patients.  Once again, building systems for re-care, new patients, treatment planning and scheduling will make you lean and mean.  All of these systems require the dentists to develop and build his communication and leadership skills.  Putting a system in place without being able to carry it out won’t work.  Think about football teams with great schemes.  Without the players executing, nothing matters.

  3. Become an expert in examination, diagnosis, planning and communication.  Take courses in these areas.  Get coached.  Don’t concentrate on the technical…step back and take leadership courses.

  4. Be a doctor not a businessman.  Okay, dentistry is a business, but your patients want you to be a doctor first.  A healer first.  Doctor is from the latin, docere which means teacher.  When you are a businessperson first, people know…they can smell self-interest a mile away.  Define your vision and create that model.

  5. Your practice is not about you.  And it’s not about the patient either.  It’s about the relationships you create.  You and your patient do not exist in a vacuum.  You are connected, and the relationship is sacred—built on trust—not self-interest.  Of course this means you can’t treat everyone.  You will mourn your lost patients…I know I did.  At the end of the day—those that leave because you are no longer in network, were never really patients.

  6. Create missionaries.  People who will never leave your practice and spread the word about how great you are because you…(whatever you did that they thought was not possible, changed their life in some way).  In order to do this you must learn to appreciate every little thing you do for people, and let them know in every way.  Don’t take what we do for granted.  Stay optimistic always.  Pessimism can kill practices because dentists stop trying because they think people just won’t change.

  7. Do more procedures.  Learn the newer procedures.  Learn more surgical procedures and implants.  As we go into the future, your patients will expect more from you.

  8. Align yourself with a friendly and competent professional network.  Make sure your referring network practices just like you.  Make sure they understand your philosophy of practice.  Go to meetings—hang with the best.  Take the best of continuing education.  You’ll be amazed at what gets discussed after the lectures.

  9. Remember the key is trust, bonding and attachment.  After all is said and done, your tribe is based on trust.  The trust you build is the currency of your practice…not some list or some insurance form.

  10. Ooch your way to your destination.  If you are already associated with many plans, ooch your way out.  Ooching is a term used by Dan and Chip Heath in their new book, Decisive.  It means to slowly get where you want to be.  In other words don’t pull the plug all at once.  Using the 80/20 Rule, get rid of the 80% of plans that are only responsible for 20% of your production.  You won’t miss them.  You won’t mourn the losses.  Give people in those plans a chance to stay with you…if not…as Herb Kellerher from Southwest Airlines says, “We will miss you.”


It’s getting tougher and tougher to distinguish ourselves with beautiful dentistry alone.  We must become more for our patients.  They want more from us.  They want us to become trusted advisors as well as competent dentists.  Have you looked at Facebook lately—there are some rfeally good dentists out there.  They do some really great work.  How are you going to separate yourself from them in this era of social media?

That’s why I started this blog and my newsletter—to give dentists a different look than is given by all the consultants out there.

My favorite author is Paul Auster.  He graduated Columbia University with a degree in literature.  He only wanted to write literary novels.  When he graduated there was no work for him in the U.S. so he lived in Europe for a while.  He wrote romance novels and westerns in order to make a living.

In his memoir, Hand to Mouth he offered one piece of advice which I used in my dental career, and I think it applies to all young dentists:  “Never, never, never, sell out.”





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