Monday, March 10, 2014

Who is John Galt? - Disruptors in Dentisty

Disruptors are innovators.  They are businesses that shift a mindset of how consumers think, purchase, etc.  thereby challenging established businesses.

Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says that a disruptor displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is both destructive and creative.

Some examples of disruptors are companies like Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and Uber

I identify Apple - not for the computers that it builds, but another niche that it took over – music and listening device sales.  iPods, iPhones and iTunes has changed how we buy and listen to music.  There are hardly any CD stores anymore other than those that sell used ones.  When I grew up, I would buy records.  The cover art would attract me to give new bands a listen.  I judged the band by entire albums that it recorded.  Today, we buy songs, not albums. They are instantly downloaded onto our computers.  No waiting in lines, no browsing through tedious shelves of records/cd’s.

 We create playlists with the drag of the mouse.  We use auto shuffle and the “genius” feature to create our own personal radio stations.  They connect to our cars, our phones, our tablets and all are stored on our computers.  CD players are becoming a thing of the past.  Music is stored on hard drives, jump drives, iPods, etc;

Netflix took how we rent movies to a new level.  For a low monthly fee we can have unlimited movies shipped to our house  - hassle free; or immediately available to  view on our computer or smart TV’s through an internet connection.  Blockbuster used to charge late fees, “you didn’t rewind the VHS” fees, etc.  I dreaded having to to pay this fine.  The buying experience was a hassle and expensive.  Netflix is easy, customized to my preferences and instant. Are there even any Blockbuster stores left?

Amazon capitalized on the fact that a book is still readable after it had been read, music is still listenable after it had been listened to, and anything should be able to be purchased on the internet easily!  They created a personalized buying experience based on your browsing and buying habits.  It greatly affected the big chain bookstores like Border’s or Barnes&Noble.  It also helps you find the lowest price for a boxed item and they deliver it right to your door.  If it wasn’t exactly what you were looking for, ship it back.  Hassle-free!

Lastly  -Uber is putting a huge dent in the taxi business.  With Uber, you can press a button on your phone app and a nice clean car will be at your location within 15 minutes. Yellow Cab gets to you when it gets to you and the entire cab experience pretty much stinks!

All of these disruptors have innovated, streamlined and penetrated market share, challenged, and even ruined wildly successful businesses while reinventing the delivery of these services.  They have changed the consumer’s mindset and changed the paradigm on how these services should be purchased, used and consumed.  The consumer experience is exactly the way the consumer prefers.  We (the consumers) wouldn’t have it any other way.

Another commonality of these disruptors is that they didn’t just enter the marketplace and were welcomed with opened arms.  The status quo or “established” business model was not happy and tried to stop them. 
In reality, the status quo was asleep at the wheel.  They were lazy, and arrogant.   They felt they were too big to fail. Those established business models that survived disruption evolved their business models to better serve their consumers.

The question “Who is John Galt?” comes to mind from Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged! John Galt represents creativeness and innovation.  The status quo must constantly channel it's inner John Galt if it wishes to remain relevant to the people it serves.

There are disruptors popping up in every niche and dentistry is definitely not immune.  They are here and they are aggressively working to innovate and change the status quo. 

Disruptor #1 - Large Group Practices are delivering dental services cheaper, quicker and more efficient than the typical private practice.  They are aggressively growing around the country.  They are aggressively hiring up new dentists.  They are aggressively advertising their services.  They have created a niche for themselves and continue to attract patients.  They haven’t perfected the consistent customer experience yet, but at some point that they will figure it out. 

There are some really lousy dentists that practice in this setting.  There are also really good dentists in this arena too.  To be fair - There are also some really lousy dentists in private practice settings.   There are also some really good dentists in this arena too.

The unfortunate reality with the large group practices is that they are being judged by the lowest common denominator.  For every bad patient experience, the entire organization’s reputation takes a hit. If these companies are going to take their disruption to the next level, they need to shore up some of the bad players in their organizations.  They need to do this from within.

A dental organization in the Pacific Northwest is self-regulating through a peer review process similar to the one used in organized dentistry.  I commend them for taking the initiative to self-regulate and get rid of the bad apples from their branches.   

Disruptor #2 – Dental Insurance has been a driving factor in changing consumer perception with respect to the dentist.  There is a mindset that if one doesn’t have insurance they can’t go to the dentist. 

Dentistry is equal parts art and science.  The product that we deliver is a unique service and experience every single time.  The dental insurance industry has been really good at “commoditizing” these services. They view all fillings, crowns, and other procedures as commodities.  They don't take into account level of the level of difficulty it took to achieve a positive result.  Dentists must impart the value of their services to their patients and that dental insurance is a nice benefit but it the cure all to their dental health.

On the flip side - Dental insurance does help with the basic preventative services - cleanings, check ups, xrays etc.  And many people go to the dentist because of the benefits that they receive.  

Disruptor #3 – New Technology is continually changing how we practice.  Film based x-rays are as antique as the horseless carriage.  CAD/CAM, digital impressions, articulations, etc are going to make dentistry more efficient and even more predictable.

Disruptor #4 – This past year, Metropolitan Denver Dental Society (MDDS) built the first and only dental learning center operated and run by and component of organized dentistry.  The new facility has 4 fully operating dental operatories that are being used for hands on learning opportunities.  They have functioning lab benches, auditorium and video streaming from the operatories into the various remote video-viewing stations.

The Metropolitan Denver Dental Society is dedicated to supporting its members, promoting the highest ethical practice of dentistry; providing continuing professional education, including a premier annual dental convention; and oral health education to the public.  This learning center, The Mountain West Dental Institute, will help them fulfill their mission.  Many dental associations around the country are very interested to see how this works.  Some people say they took a big risk....that is what disruptors do.

The Colorado Dental Association recently hosted a presentation in which approximately 100 dentists showed up in person and an equal number viewed the presentation remotely via live streaming technology.  This new use of technology will allow dentists from around the state/country meet, learn, network and communicate.

America is the land of opportunity.  Anything is possible with creativity, hard work, perseverance and a little bit of luck.  Every business must constantly raise the bar if it is to remain relevant and vital.  The business models must evolve to stave off the disruptors and to keep the consumers interested in their product or service.

Evolution is the survival of the fittest.  Those that can adapt and create change will evolve into the new paradigm and address the needs and desires of its consumers.

The status quo does not exist indefinitely.  It will constantly be challenged. 

“Who is John Galt?”

Disclaimer –I am not passing judgment on these disruptors.  I am just sharing my observation and thoughts.  I may or may not subscribe philosophically with various paradigm shifts.  Each serves a niche that is attractive to various people.  That is why they are growing/gaining the market share and shifting the perceptions of the consumers.

If you like this blog post, I would love to hear about it.  Please comment or share it on Google+, Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, etc.  If you are looking for a dentist in the Denver area, we are always looking for new patients.  Please visit our website or like our facebook page,  Or you can do it the old fashion way - call us at 303-321-4445.

Thanks for reading!  BK