Transparency as a Business Model – Dental Edition

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Transparency has been in the midst of a movement in recent years, from farm to table cuisine to e-commerce across all industries. It only makes sense that some of these newer business practices are coming to the forefront in other areas that extend beyond Instagram-friendly restaurants and boutiques targeting a growing audience of the socially conscious.

But what does transparency look like in the realm of healthcare, particularly in the dental space? Well, for starters, it’s a different approach than simply touting a waste-free work place or sustainably sourced fillings.

We spoke with Vivek Kinra, office manager and owner of Chicago’s VIP Dental Lounge, and he told us a bit about their approach to dentistry, a model that puts transparency at the center of all they do – from the billing process down to each tooth that gets filled.

VIP Dental Lounge

Why Dentistry Should Become More Transparent

We all know going to the dentist can be a lesson in anticipating hidden fees and procedures, which as patients, can sometimes lead to a lack of trust. If you’ve ever tried to find the price of a crown, root canal or other costly dental procedure, your experience likely ends in a frustrated bout of failure. As a dentist, there are so many factors that go into pricing, and it’s hard to give patients a straight answer. Factors like how much insurance the patient has used during the year, the dental plan itself, the reimbursements from providers, and so on, all come heavily into play.

Costs, Copays and Changing Procedures – Transparency Builds Patient Trust

At VIP Dental Lounge, co-pays are collected before each service rendered, and patients are informed of the steps involved with their upcoming procedure. Having a sense of upfront costs in this case, allows patients to relax and focus on getting the best care possible, rather than waiting in anticipation for the bill to go up as the service progresses, or worse, having no idea what goes into an extraction, root canal or even a routine filling,

While Vivek says they can’t account for every single incidental, patients are kept abreast of the goings on and are informed if anything unexpected comes up. It’s not perfect, to be sure, but Vivek mentions that VIP’s system of pre-estimates, coupled with preauthorization and plenty of updates along the way — whether patients are there for a cleaning or something a little more involvement has helped them keep patients happy and informed.

The office makes use of plenty of tools, like iPads for every patient, which sure, helps pass the time while they sit in the waiting room, but also is a valuable tool for showing the results of x-rays, explaining what needs to be done.

People Using iPad for Dental Service

While dental transparency industry wide may not be exactly where it needs to be from a patient’s point of view, places like VIP are making major inroads toward keeping patients informed of their care. It’s the details that count, and the effort put forth by practitioners is something we can expect to become ever more important in time.


Here are the rest of our articles in this series. 

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