When dentists were asked the following survey question, conducted by the ADA’s Health Policy Institute (published Nov. 2, 2020), “Assuming your patient volume remains the same through the end of the year, would you consider any of the following additional measures?” 31% of dentists surveyed said they may reduce staff hours, 18.6% said they may downsize the dental team and 13.1% said they may reduce employee wages.
Dental practice schedules and production have certainly been a rollercoaster in 2020. Most practices experienced low production in the spring to then realize record-high production through the summer. As we near the end of the year, many practices are reporting a slight decline in patient volume compared to the third quarter. According to the Nov. 2 ADA HPI COVID-19 survey data, patient volume nationally still hovers around 80% of pre-COVID numbers.
With a 20% patient volume shortage over 2019, dental practice owners may need to look at reducing payroll overhead costs going into 2021.
Because employee wages and benefits represent 25-30% of practice collections, it is not surprising for dentists to look first at reducing payroll costs. While CDA Practice Support recommends monitoring other costs before reducing employee wages and hours, the following are considerations should you be faced with this difficult decision:
Before making any employment reduction, seek legal counsel to evaluate the decision and rationale. Each employee situation is unique and should be carefully considered.