Social Media and Legal Considerations for Dentistry



A Costco cup of coffee costs $0.50. Down the street at Starbucks you’ll pay six times that much.

Have you ever heard people walk into Starbucks and ask them to sell their cup of coffee for the same price as Costco’s? Probably not. Starbuck’s customers consider that cup of coffee a “ritual comfort” with much higher perceived value.Social Media Helps Move Your Practice Away From Commodity Dentistry

It’s Marketing 101.

The Corporate/Commodity Dentistry Tsunami

I recently read a great post by Brett Kessler about “commodity dentistry”. Here are a couple of snippets from that post:

“Most third party entities (insurance companies, government agencies, etc.) have been masterful at creating a ‘dentistry is a commodity’ mindset to consumers…”

“Dentistry is an imperfect blend of art and science. It is not mass produced on a conveyer belt in a factory. It is provided uniquely and personally to our patients. A mentor and master of dentistry, L.D. Pankey once said, ‘I’ve never had a tooth walk into my office. It was always attached to someone. Get to know that person, and I may get the opportunity to treat that person’s teeth.’ Words which I live by in my practice philosophy. We treat people holistically—mind, body, spirit.”

Dr. Kessler references insurance companies and government agencies. I include corporate dentistry in that same group with clinics in shopping centers and next to fast-food restaurants, with posters in windows shouting “Free Exams” and no appointments necessary. All three of these entities contribute to moving what dentists do to a commodity model.

So, how do you combat this wave? What can you do today—using little time and money—to help bolster the same perceived value about your dental services that Starbucks enjoys with its coffee? How do you help divert the focus away from things like fee comparisons in this complex equation?

Social Media Marketing Is Among Your Most Effective Strategies

Social media’s “trust cultures” are the new branding. Whether you’ve thought much about it or not, your dental practice likely has a trust culture you’ve nurtured over the years—but you need an easy way to communicate and share it. Social media drip methods are great ways to share that trust culture—a culture that moves you away from commodity dentistry.

Subconscious transference also takes place in prospective new patients’ minds when your practice is technologically leading edge, as demonstrated through social media. The perception is that you’re leading edge in everything you do—including your dental services. That same feeling doesn’t exist in corporate dentistry and it can differentiate your practice.

Social media not only helps current and prospective patients catch glimpses into your culture, but they also pick up on a powerful message—that you care well beyond the derrières-in-chairs corporate mindset, that you’re open/honest, and that you treat people, not teeth. Social media storytelling reinforces through text and visuals that what you’re doing matters… And that what you do is different.

You become a trusted, lifelong health partner instead of just a service provider… Never as fast as you’d like, but much faster than you can imagine.

Are you struggling in your fight against commodity dentistry? Please share your questions, struggles, and successes below so others can chime in and benefit.

7 comments on “Social Media Helps Move Your Practice Away From Commodity Dentistry

  1. At our practice, we’d like to be more involved with social media. However, we’ve also been advised by our attorneys that interacting with patients on social media, specifically responding to complaints on Google reviews, twitter or Facebook, constitutes a violation of HIPPA because by replying we acknowledge that person was treated in our office. What resources can you point us to in order to learn more about how we can use social media and interact with patients without violating HIPPA?

  2. Thanks for reading and thanks for your question. We are in the process of developing more extensive resources to help answer your question, but in the meantime, here are some things that will help.
    Our friend and colleague, Rita Zamora, has a useful video interview about this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTci1B6x6SA&list=UU18HlGOINzIMEZEjrs6AoqQ
    And, here is a post we did a few years ago with some helpful information: http://mysocialpractice.com/2011/04/social-networking-for-dentists-and-hippa-compliance/
    Hope that helps… And I will post the new things we are working on here, as soon as they are available. If you have more questions, please ask.

  3. Thanks Jack for referencing me. You are spot on with this post.

    Marketing is a comprehensive process. We get about 2/3’s of our new patients from our existing patients. When a patient is referred, the first thing that they do is check on us online.

    The social media messaging that we have must accurately portray us in the same spirit as the referral and in person when that patient enters our practice.

    Consistency builds trust. An authentic social media presence contributes significantly.

  4. Pingback: Social Media Helps Move Your Practice Away From Commodity Dentistry - Dental Health Care

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