So over the last week or two we have had some fun in the Ortho101. I created a series of polls to compare and contrast some items that are rarely considered together and the results were interesting to say the least. Here’s the first one:

poll 1

The results are terribly predictable and the overwhelming majority of respondents agree so the chosen answer must be correct, right? Not even close. Democracy has no dominion over truth. Just because most of us agree, that doesn’t mean we are right! Bowing to “The Consensus of the Uninformed” is popular in our profession but look where that’s gotten us. The results here are based on our belief possession, a reflection of our investments of time and money in our degrees and they have no basis in reality. We orthodontists have an ortho certificate and we worked hard to get that so we are loath to discount the value therein. That doesn’t mean the public or your pool of potential patients places any value whatsoever in our orthodontic certificates. In my opinion and the opinion of those with proven results and a progressive mindset, being an Invisalign top 1% doctor is far more valuable when it comes to running a practice and a business because it brings in new patients! Being an orthodontist doesn’t do that nearly as well if at all. I could rant about the inefficacy of our member organization or comment about the ability of a vendor of hardware to deem one licensed practitioner superior to another but I won’t. If you haven’t gotten that message by now (and apparently at least 232 of you have not) then I won’t waste my breath. Long story short, the dental landscape and the new reality are far different than our myopic view and antiquated beliefs. Like it or not, it is what it is. You can choose only to deny or embrace the new landscape.

Now let’s look at the next survey:

poll 2

Again, the results are predictable and the overwhelming majority agree. But are they right? Maybe. If you have a huge practice already and if you track your numbers accurately and if you don’t count family members of current patients and if you are getting a significant number of patient to patient referrals then, yeah, I can see that being the “right answer”. However, I doubt many of these stipulations apply to most of the doctors who voted for option 1. So why did so many people choose option 1? Simple, just like in the first survey, it’s all about ego. It’s not just that we are all told that patient referrals are the most important it is also what we think patient referrals mean. We orthodontists believe that patients refer others to see us, personally. As in the doctor is so cool and so awesome that people want to see them. But this is rarely the case. If you are Anil Idilculla then, yeah, you are that cool and patients love to see YOU but when it comes to the rest of us, patients come to our practices for a myriad of reasons – and most don’t have a thing to do with the doctor. So what is the right answer in this poll? There’s not one, but the first option here would rank well down the list if they were ranked in realistic order as assessed by an outsider instead of orthodontists.

And now for the last poll. This one shocked me and I will readily admit didn’t go as I expected:

poll 3

I fully expected that “Doctor with excellent clinical skills” would be the top vote getter in this poll based on the results of the first two polls and what I know of orthodontists. I also thought that “likable doctor” would do very well. For a while, I couldn’t figure out why the results were so different from my prediction. There are two possible reasons that I can come up with for my failed forecast: 1) I was wrong and I don’t understand orthodontists 2) The members of the group figured out what I was getting at and voted to get the “right answer” as they would in a dental school or ortho residency class. Maybe it’s MY ego but I’m going with #2. No way that many orthodontists DON’T think it’s all about them… But then again if through participating in these polls orthodontists begin to consider that there might be another way of thinking about what we do and how we do it, isn’t that progress? We can only make choices that we are aware of and helping orthodontists become aware of the new reality and their options is my primary goal. The world has changed. We must change with it. You know the old saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to get your A$$ KICKED”.

PS The entire point of the polls and this post is to get you to consider a few things. 1) Just because a bunch of orthodontists agree, doesn’t mean they are right 2) There isn’t always a right answer 3) In this new dental landscape, you might want to open your mind to new possibities and new realities even if they are contrary to what you were taught and what you believe.

2 thoughts on “Democracy & Truth

  1. The was great!!
    Love the shout out to Anil!!

  2. I’ll go one step further. If you’re getting the results you want from your practice/business and you are fully prepared to survive and thrive with the ever increasing competition and ever decreasing referrals from PCDs then whatever answers you chose are “right”. However, if you’re not extremely happy with your results of you still operate a business that is heavily reliant on traditional referral sources, you may want to consider what I’m saying here instead of justifying and defending your chosen answers.

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